A few weeks ago, I went to go see Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” I was, to put it in the simplest terms, excited beyond belief. I had waited since freshman year for the moment when I would once again sit in a theater and watch the amazing and ridiculously hot group of heroes unite on screen to take down some kind of inhuman army. I felt like I was about to burst from excitement before the movie even began thanks to trailers for my other idolized movie franchises like Jurassic Park, Fantastic Four, and of course, Star Wars. Despite “Age of Ultron’s” occasional missteps, the movie’s sheer amount of epic battles and explosions left me a starry-eyed emotional wreck as I left the theater. Yet, when I returned to school on Monday, eager to discuss the film, I was quickly brought back down to reality. There were very few people I could actually talk to about the film, and from the many I couldn’t I received more than a few judgmental looks.
Even though we are arguably living in the age where “nerds” practically rule the world (thanks to the likes of Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates), nerd culture is still something that may receive judgment from the rest of society depending on how you choose to define it. You spent hours building a supercomputer capable of solving a Rubik’s Cube puzzle in under a minute? Amazing! You spent hours watching the entirety of Netflix’s Doctor Who collection, only getting up for the occasional food or bathroom break? Not so amazing.
These days, the kind of geek culture we deem culturally acceptable is the kind that results in companies like Facebook and Apple. And understandably so. It’s certainly a more impressive feat to build a global network of users than it is to binge watch a sci-fi show, and it’s wonderful that we hold the former in such high esteem. But does that mean we should still leave the nerds who would rather obsess over movies than microscopes in the dust? Society lets people obsess over plenty of other things while still being considered within the realm of normal. I don’t go a single day without seeing one of the Kardashians pop up on one of my various feeds – if people are allowed to obsess over them, why should I not be allowed to obsess over the Avengers cast?
The elitist attitude held over geeks and nerds is a shallow one. Much of the time, it’s impossible to tell at first glance whether someone is a part of nerd culture at all. Even looking at me, for example, I know that a lot of people probably wouldn’t expect a small disgruntled-looking blonde girl to know the Konami code and be well-versed in Star Wars trivia. But that’s the great thing about being a nerd–as much as John Hughes movies would tell you otherwise, you don’t have to wear thick rimmed glasses or a pocket protector to fit the label. Geekiness something that can be deeply rooted in everyone–whether it’s the quiet kid who reads all through class, the loud football player who makes jokes all the time, or the flawless sorority sister in training who sits across the room from you.
Personally, 2015 has been the year where I’ve finally stopped worrying about my inner fangirl. I don’t know if it was the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer that jumpstarted my descent into full-on geek mode, or simply just a second semester senior mindset of not caring about what my peers will think of me. I’m not as ashamed to discuss “nerdy” topics in class with my friends, or to express my excitement over an upcoming movie or game. And this has been a tremendously freeing journey. I’ve made several unexpected new friends in the past few months, uniting together under the common bond of being huge fandom-loving dorks, like our own private team of really lame superheroes – common students by day, Internet warriors and Netflix connoisseurs by night.
It may take a while for the rest of society to start realizing how fun being a nerd actually is, and how liking comic books or video games is really no different than avidly following celebrity gossip or obsessing over a sports league (seriously, is there really that much of a difference in the mechanics of Dungeons and Dragons vs. Fantasy Football?). Until then, I’d encourage anyone who is leading a double life to strip away those fake glasses and secret identity and start embracing the truly awesome side of being unashamedly nerdy. You’ll be surprised at how much better life can be.