Since “Nerd” is defined in the dictionary as “a foolish or contemptible person who lacks social skills or is boringly studious,” people would wonder why there is a club using that word in pride.
In previous decades, nerd pride was mostly non-existent, with nerds being ostracized by the mainstream crowd. Niche interests are gradually growing in popularity and prevalence. A rising reliance on the internet is giving nerds a large playground of sorts to express themselves and relay their interests to others.
“Nerd Club started in 2008, with a couple of students from my sci-fi class, and it started as a joke,” said club advisor, Ms. Kate Meo. “It’s sort of a very inclusive group, it always has been open to lots and lots of interests and feeling like everybody brings something to the table.” Interests such as steampunk, horror, and even My Little Pony are welcomed, according to Ms. Meo.
On Monday afternoons, one can see students gathering together under this term to plan events such as parties, movie screenings, or gatherings that pertain to their niche interests. From Japanese animation, to Doctor Who, to comics, there is no shortage of peculiar interests being shared and discussed.
Other activities that Nerd Club engages in, include Murder Mystery Parties, trips to King Richard’s Faire, Book Swaps, and similar events.
Usually, students will converse for a while before having their attention called by their president. They will then discuss events to organize in the coming weeks, then continue to have discourses with each other until it is time to leave. It doesn’t seem too out of the ordinary, but the variance in interests makes it a very colorful gathering, and potentially confusing for non-members.
Aiden Delaney, a student at HHS who does not identify as a nerd, when asked about his opinions on Nerd Club and Nerd Culture, said that he believes that nerds, in some ways, want to diversify themselves through their interests, as a way of voluntarily breaking from the norm. He also was interested at the prospect of Nerd Club, though he was not sure of how it works.
“I just feel like now it’s just what you’re kind of into and what your interests are, but I don’t see it as an insult, at all,” said Delaney. Even amongst those not involved in nerd culture, the definition is nowhere near as malevolent as in previous generations.
Despite this, Rhys Mades, president of the Nerd Club, is a bit more concerned about how non-nerds view nerd culture. She said that nerds are, in many ways, still seen as “weird.” She feels that most non-nerds are indifferent to the idea of Nerd Club, and also said that she had occasionally been picked on because of her interests.
Ms. Meo agrees with the idea that a nerd is defined as someone with a large interest in certain unusual facets of pop culture. However, she feels that it is being treated with respect.
“I think maybe people equate ‘nerd’ with successful, smart, interesting, and innovative. So I think there’s a more positive feeling,” said Ms. Meo.
However, Ms. Meo also states that although many freshmen have joined the club, the advertising of the club could be handled better. Mades also expressed a desire to improve the club.
“I plan for us to become the large, happy family type club we used to be. I hope we have events at least once a week and have participating members and everyone has a lot of fun. For some of us it’s the only safe space for us to talk about the things we enjoy and have friends, and I love to be able to provide that,” said Mades.
The club supervisor and president seems quite hopeful for the club’s future. Ms. Meo was glad for the recent rise in membership, while Mades is optimistic about how the club can improve. It goes to show how a term previously labeled as a social death sentence can be turned so drastically around to better not only those under it, but those who look from the other side.