Monday, 14 April 2014

An Open Letter to Nerdfighteria on Haters

Dear Nerdfighters,
I was about 16 when I first discovered the VlogBrothers. I have read the books, met John and Hank and it has been important to me for many years. Being almost 21 now, I have seen the community ebb and flow in popularity, by this I mean, mostly the same people loved it while the outsiders went between general uncaring and annoyance by its presence all over nerd-culture. While on the Irish Nerdfighter page a while ago, I came across a post about a Nerdfighter-hate Tumblr blog and there was quite an up-roar about it and this has imspired me to write about my feelings on the subject.

The community that is the Nerdfighters is not defined by this opinion. No matter what you do, people will get annoyed about it. Modern culture has decided, of late, to take nerd culture and try to make it mainstream. thinking that nerds are all Sheldon Cooper and should be laughed at for being passionate about something. We are the people who know that being a nerd is not wearing big glasses and a bow-tie (they do not understand fully why bow-ties are cool). These are people who can't understand how you can retain a child-like passion for something. It does not mean that we are immature, only that we can separate that part of ourselves that must be grown-up with that which doesn't want to be. I personally have perfected the art of being an "adult" when I need to be and letting go of that completely when I am around people who understand me. It is not a case of hiding myself, I am not afraid to tell people about my hobbies if they ask, but in a situation where you have to act a certain way, you can't avoid it. It is a harsh truth but it is still important. I fins that the best thing to do is to try and reduce the amount of situations in which you have to act that way but that can only go so far.

But that is not the only thing which needs to be said. Guys, everything starts from somewhere and these hate post do have a small amount of truth. I have found in my years, not only as a nerd but also as an advocate for things like feminism (many people cringe at the word), that there will always be a few that will ruin it for the many. It is usually the extremists that people remember (which is why people seem to think that I am a man-hating feminazi when I say I am a feminist) because there are a small amount of extremists who hold that view and that is what people remember. What you guys need to remember is that although the roots of Nerdfighteria is in Nerdom, it does not give you an elevated status when it comes to the lakes of fandom or even things like Tumblr. In the same way that you don't want someone discriminating against you because you are a nerd, you shouldn't work against someone just because they don't belong to the same group or have no desire to join that group.

Sites like Tumblr are supposed to give a creative outlet to people and help them connect with others of the same mindset but that can be difficult and sometimes annoying for people when, instead of talking to a person, you get someone hides themselves behind the wall of comfort that is Nerdfighteria. Writing DFTBA at the end of a conversation is awesome within the community but when it is said (or written) to someone who doesn't know what it means it can come off as jarring. The community does not define you. It is an awesome way to meet people when you maybe have problems with it or when you move somewhere new or start in a new school but it shouldn't become a crutch to the point where you loose yourself.

 But even within the threads of Nerdfighter conversations there is some discrimination and this goes for all, not just Nerdfighteria, however it is important here. When someone wants to enter a fandom or learn more about something, it should be a really fun time and there should be a community ready to help them get involved. Nerdfighteria should be that community and most of the time it is. HOWEVER there are a small group who are so passionate about their fandoms that they alienate those who have lesser knowledge and seem to take some joy from building themselves up by breaking others down. Don't let yourself become this. It is much better to feel as though you helped someone discover something new than feeling as though you know everything and have proved it to a group of people who were only trying to have fun.

To finish, I know that the vast majority of you are awesome but please remember: take a moment before you post to see how your comment could be received by someone else and PLEASE be yourself. Use your love of John and Hank and all things Nerdfighter as another passion, not as what defines you. You will learn more about yourself that way and everything can only get better from there.