The idea of a nerd has dramatically morphed in today’s society from the quintessential odd, extremely intelligent, socially awkward to the centre of modern technology and has even undertaken the transformation of becoming cool. I am pleased to publicly announce (or at least to those of you who are reading this) that yes I am a nerd/geek/dork/weirdo/unapologetic enthusiast (although apparently nowadays that’s the norm.)
Convergent media practices have helped to transform the stereotypical image of a geek, allowing greater accessibility and impact to audiences who have never truly been passive. The desire to be social and create sub communities along with the freedom and non exclusivity of the internet, nerds around the globe have united to form Clubs and societies including the infamous “Nerd Fighters”.
The fusing of subculture and big business has generated mixed views among geeks themselves with some feeling that their area of interest has been tainted by mainstream industry, while others feel they are being catered to on a much larger, more prominent scale. The ideas of “coolness and nerd” are no longer mutually exclusive and now share a symbiotic relationship due to personal interpretation and choice. The entertainment industry has created a platform whereby nerds can gain visibility and reclaim the nerd labels. Producers (including Steven Spielberg and Josh Lucas,) actors (Scarlett Johansson and Justin Timberlake,) television presenters, and authors have all contributed in changing the representations of nerds in society by identifying themselves as nerds.
To aid in bridging the gap between nerds and coolness individuals must adhere to conditions of plausibility regarding coolness in the form of irony and self-reflexivity. Through this process nerds become less threatening and a comfortable distance between the ‘self’ and ‘nerd’ is created to evoke a sense of protection for the audience. The notion of unself-conscieness is another contributing factor towards the interlocking of nerd and coolness using ironical enthusiasm to create a paradox that generates a sense of authenticity to an individual consolidating credibility, legitimacy and a senesce of place.
Convergent media practices no longer rely on geographical location or cost to create sub cultures and communities but instead uses friendships across the globe, the creation of fan fiction to create a wider audience, collaboration of individuals to produce the convoluted notion of fans becoming fans of fans, and collective intelligence and activism to support charities including World Vision and Protect for Awesome.