I’m always caught off guard when Cracked articles make me feel things.
But, yeah, this: 5 Things Modern Kids Don’t Understand About Being a “Nerd.” Today, my husband and I were in Target, looking at all of the “vintage,” “ironic” T-shirts which are neither particularly vintage or ironic, and he commented, “I can’t believe how easy it is to be a nerd these days.” Before the Internet, before mainstream sci-fi, before comics were cool, being a nerd was really fucking difficult. I went to a Star Trek con in 1991, and when I got home, guess who I showed my awesome new Starfleet Academy sweatshirt to, or who I told that I was devastated that Wil Wheaton wasn’t there [shut up; I was a pre-teen and pickings were slim], but so psyched that Marina Sirtis signed a picture and used my name, or how I wanted to wear an Uhura costume for Halloween that year? No one. Because I would have gotten stuffed in a locker. (That stuff really happened. Big lockers. Small kids.)
I used to read comics. A lot. I lived close to a college campus that had a good comic store. And I’d save up all my money for the newest X-Men or Superman (I wasn’t picky about universes), but I was so relentlessly mocked that I’d have to get an Archie, too, so I could hide my real purchase underneath. Because I was a girl, and I was a kid, and people were cruel.
I’m not saying kids (and I use that term pretty broadly, but let’s say 25 and younger) can’t be “real” nerds, and I’m not denying how much easier the Internet has made being a nerd, but I don’t think younger people really understand what it was like to be a nerd kid in the ’80s and early ’90s. How “bullying” wasn’t a thing that anyone cared about stopping until my generation was already out of college. And how I would have loved to come of age in a time when being a nerd was no big deal, and wouldn’t get you ostracized, bullied, beaten, and mocked. How someone would rip your comic book out of your hand and right in half and you were the wrong one for even having it in the first place. And I’m glad that kids today are growing up when they can freely and enthusiastically show their love for various “nerdy” things, and if you’re being mocked, well, hey, there’s the Internet, and a thousand like-minded folks just a few keystrokes away.
And this is why all of the associated crap that goes along with being a girl who’s a nerd is so infuriating to me. Why my ComicCon experiences were more frustrating than the usual dismissive glances and commonplace street harassment. Because I’ve already proven my nerd cred. I did it when I was 10 and 14 and 18, and I did it even when it prevented me from making friends or from being accepted or when it got me bullied to the point that getting on the school bus felt like a game of Russian roulette. So to go to a con that’s mainstream and popular and a big deal, and to have people doubt I have any idea what I’m talking about because I’m a girl is infuriating. I lived this already, and I did it when I didn’t have a screenname to hide behind. It was just me: a nerd in the real world.