[thechat] Why Nerds Are Unpopular

Ben Dyer ben_dyer at imaginuity.com
Tue Feb 18 17:01:00 CST 2003

Great article found on Slashdot: Why Nerds are Unpopular.  Spot on.  Kinda
U.S.-centric, but still pretty accurate.


A few choice quotes:

>A lot of people seem to think it's good for smart kids to be thrown
>together with "normal" kids at this stage of their lives. Perhaps. But in
>at least some cases the reason the nerds don't fit in actually is that
>everyone else is crazy. I remember sitting in the audience at a "pep
>rally" at my high school, watching as the cheerleaders threw an effigy of
>an opposing player into the audience to be torn to pieces. I felt like an
>explorer witnessing some bizarre tribal ritual.

>What bothers me is not that the kids are kept in prisons, but that (a)
>they aren't told about it, and (b) the prisons are run mostly by the
>inmates. Kids are sent off to spend six years memorizing meaningless facts
>in a world ruled by a caste of giants who run after an oblong brown ball,
>as if this were the most natural thing in the world. And if they balk at
>this surreal cocktail, they're called misfits.

>We have a phrase to describe what happens when rankings have to be created
>without any meaningful criteria. We say that the situation degenerates
>into a popularity contest. And that's exactly what happens in most
>American schools. Since the group has no real purpose, there is no natural
>measure of performance for status to depend on. Instead of depending on
>some real test, one's rank ends up depending mostly on one's ability to
>increase one's rank. It's like the court of Louis XIV. There is no
>external opponent, so the kids become one another's opponents in an
>inexorable zero-sum competition.


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