Ban “Nerd” and “Geek” Says Professor

Did you run across the New York Times article published on Sunday about “geeks” and “nerds?” Titled “New Programs Aim to Lure Young Into Digital Jobs,” the article talks about how we have to change our views of people who are into technology. While this is already happening, the article delves deeper and looks at education as a key factor.

I actually found the article to be very informative and funny at the same time. A professor from Bennington College takes on a slightly different view, though. David Anderegg, a professor of psychology says that instead of trying to reinvent “geek” into “cool geek,” we should just stop using the term altogether. He likened the terms to racial slurs that are more damaging than one might think.

Damon Darlin wrote a blog post on this, as he got in touch with the professor. I like what he said about the labels changing meaning depending on the context. That’s exactly how language is anyway – it evolves over time! His example:

I noted that in Manhattan’s elite high schools being called a “cool nerd” is a compliment these days — denoting someone with intellectual and academic chops, unself-consciously so, and other interests as well.

I don’t even need to go far for more examples. At the office, people tend to call techies “geeks” in a fond manner. And no one is offended! I am sure that you have similar examples in mind right now. I don’t really see the problem in “cool-ifying” these terms, do you?

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