Geek or Nerd?

There’s a couple of questions out there that bring up this topic.  And life has certainly gotten better for both categories, because it was not all that long ago that either were considered social outcasts.  Now, they are the darlings of the day.  Everybody has either embraced their inner geek or nerd, or at least started to act like one to fit in.

(Long time geeks or nerds might find this ironic, actually.)

But this is not merely an academic question I pose today: this is more a musing thought…  Which would you say you are?

There are those who posit that the determination can be boiled down to the question: are you a Star Wars fan or a Star Trek fan?  

Yes, I’m serious.  The results are kind of interesting.  I’ve been told (still looking for the internet proof) that if you are a fan of Star Trek, you are a nerd.  This is because you understand science, have a basis in logic, and know instinctively that “because A leads to B, which leads to C.”  (Or, as Spock once said when the transporters were failing, “switching to B,” referring to a backup network for the systems.  Meaning when one plan fails, you’ve already thought of the consequences, and logically programmed a back-up plan in.)

The geeks tend to fall into the Star Wars camp, then.  Not that there isn’t logic, but the passionate defense of an artistic universe where a magic-like capability (“the Force”) exists that only a select few have, understand, or control.  The Star Wars realm is vividly populated with dreams and reality, art, and creativity.  There is no method, some madness, and a lot of stimulating images and sounds with only barely-plausible or tenuous connections to reality.

Now, I’m not knocking either series.  Each has their highlights and draws.  Each has failures and flaws.  I happen to like each series.  Long before I discovered Star Trek, I was a Star Wars fan.  (And I’ve found a product or two to share my love of either franchise over the years.)  Yet there are still people out there who have not watched either series, either on TV or in the movies.  (Because you cannot say that one has stayed in one realm while the other kept to its corner… each have spread through multiple media methods – something that is needed in the time of mobile.)

Nor can you argue one series is better than the other based solely on imagined technology that science is trying to find a way to create.  The cell phone, the iPad, even the Scout can trace roots to Star Trek items created for the show.  Reports continue that Case Western Reserve University is working on a functional transporter, but as of the time of writing this, the only proof I can find is a group from Australia researching the possibility.

And while there is a book on Star Trek science-fact, there is also a book on Star Wars science-fact.  In fact, through random happy accidents (isn’t that what brought about everything in the first place?) researchers have created that ultimate of science fiction weaponry (or coveted tool… still not certain): the lightsaber.  Say what you will about the Star Wars universe not following the laws of physics, the terms “droid,” “Jedi,” and “the Force” have all become immutable vocabulary and social concepts.  The Jedi concept has become a religion, George Lucas turned a sci-fi shortcut for “android” into a marketable phrase and trademarked term – and eventually the name of an operating system/style – that is in virtually everybody’s mind now, and “the Force” is something that every VW fan holds dear (as well as most kids).

There’s also that other corollary question to help define the question: is force mass times acceleration, or the energy field created by all living things that surround us and bind us together?

 You are the only one that can answer that question for yourself.

So, to wrap up this long (and link heavy, sorry about that) comment, I have to ask you: are you a geek, or are you a nerd?  If you were wondering about my own preferences, well, I think my account over at Galactic Water Cooler’s forum says it best: “one month a year, I’m a scruffy-looking nerf herder, the other eleven, I keep my Academy points in line.”  (Normal language, I’m both.  Just more nerd than geek.)


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