Opinion — My dark descent into nerd status


Harry Stine/NW

READING – Me, hooked on a chapter of “Game of Thrones.” George R.R. Martin has quickly become one of my favorite authors over the past few months.

Harry Stine

It was the first Sunday of last November. I was sitting on my couch with my laptop on a Zoom call, eating a turkey burger with waffle fries from Vango’s. Three of my friends were on the call, all of us from different parts of the state or even the country, and we were banded together for something new: a game of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D).

I guess I have always been a bit of a nerd, but for music, so in a cool way. Almost all of my shirts have some dumb band on them, I can tell you all about 90s ambient techno and I even know which foot Slayer’s Dave Lombardo starts to hit his kick drums with.

But that is different. At least I thought so. It started with D&D. I told myself I could like D&D. That’s fine. Nothing wrong there, plenty of people do that.

Then it got worse. The next weekend, I came down with a cold and decided to start a TV show to kill time. Four months later, I not only have had enough of “Game of Thrones” (I finished Season 7 and got mad), but I have read all of George R.R. Martin’s “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” and “Fire and Blood” as well. Oops.

It didn’t stop there. Hours pumped into Elden Ring. Reading “Berserk.” Constantly listening to black metal and dark ambient music. Even practicing throat singing. Looking at it all stacked up, I couldn’t deny it any longer: I had become a nerd. 

So, what to do? For starters, I told myself I would never geek. Everybody’s a nerd about something, but a geek is different. A geek is the person who corners people at parties and bars and dumps knowledge about Tolkien or anime or some hellish nerd junk like Warhammer on them. My newfound passions definitely didn’t erode my knowledge of social norms, so I would never be the guy talking about Westeros lore at social gatherings. I would only openly be a nerd around other, similar nerds.

For the most part, I stayed true to this. Being a production assistant in local news can sometimes offer plenty of downtime, which I have easily filled by receiving Elden Ring tips from coworkers. Despite one trivia night at Blackrocks where a stout took hold of me, compelling me to give my complete and annotated thoughts on “House of the Dragon” to a friend of mine, I kept it together well.

The second thing I told myself was that I would enjoy my interests, but I would never embrace nerd culture. I hate nerd culture. I hate Star Wars and Marvel fans dressing up for conventions and movie premieres, waving a lightsaber or other nerd memorabilia to cheer on the different announcements for plastic-wrapped properties built by a committee.

That was easy. I’m not perpetually 14, and I have bills and rent to pay, so I don’t think I’m at risk of regressing anytime soon. Every day that I wake up without the urge to listen to any podcast with the words “nerd” or “geek” in the title is a day I wake up happy.

But my main takeaway was that I would learn something from this stuff. I don’t want to simply fill my brain with all of this made-up knowledge. I’d rather find the real knowledge that went into making it. What do I like about the characters and world of “Game of Thrones” so much? What are the character arcs and themes that make “Berserk” so effective? Why do I like the flat-out weirdness of Elden Ring, even in the wake of so many controllers thrown in fits of rage? What’s the good writing in this stuff, and how can I adopt (sorry, take inspiration) from them? 

Basically, don’t be a geek. It’s lame. Be cool when you’re around others. Talk about your major you’ve lost faith in, then lie and say you need to “recharge your social battery” when you leave to spend the evening at home playing Elden Ring and listening to George R.R. Martin interviews. But try and pay attention to why you keep coming back to that stuff, and how you can apply that to your own writing. It might even make you enjoy the process more.

Editor’s Note: The North Wind is committed to offering a free and open public forum of ideas, publishing a wide range of viewpoints to accurately represent the NMU student body. This is a staff column, written by an employee of the North Wind. As such, it expresses the personal opinions of the individual writer, and does not necessarily reflect the position of the North Wind Editorial Board.