As I have noted in the past, Ferdinand Bardimu, of www.inmalafide.com, has a serious beef with nerds-
And as I have noted, while his perspective is hostile to actually malicious, has points that need to be considered. I have been meaning to go over his original post but have just never gotten around to it. My return is prompted by his post about some guy who has gone apeshit over comments on his site-
This guy seems to be what I would call a functional nerd, that is, he has his place and is not eager to change or improve it. He has a nerd job, a nerd girlfriend, I imagine some nerd friends, and is not under any real outside pressure. He doesn’t seem happy or well-adjusted- functional nerds can be and often are happy and well-adjusted- but he doesn’t seem like he would take advice or constructive criticism from Bardimu, me or anybody else, so the whole thing is kind of pointless.
But why not? Is this guy an omega? I would say not. He is not motivated to improve his status, power or security. I would say he is a solid beta. He is a functional nerd, so while he may seem low-status, he actually has a secure place. I don’t really know any of these people; my brother and particularly my sister do, as they were friends with these people in the gifted program.
Objectively, this guy is annoying. I can’t defend his behavior. Bardimu notes his extreme defensiveness, and notes this is a nerd characteristic. Bardimu doesn’t make the distinction between valid criticism and criticism for the purpose of ranking. If you have experienced a lot of the latter, you will tend to be irritated by any kind of criticism, valid or not. In general, follow the simple rule of “Is it true?” If it’s not true, it is best just ignored. If it is true, and you can change it, and it will help you, heed it, but only if all three things are true. If not, just ignore it.
In an unrelated post, he talks about nerds on a simple kick-the-dog principle-
So even if you have not engaged in any behavior that normal people find annoying, you can be attacked for simply being a convenient target in the wrong place at the wrong time. Schools and prisons work on the simple concept of the strong inmates ruling the weak inmates, with the wardens refusing to get involved. The unnamed red-haired victim’s mistake was to think there was some rational reason for the attack, and try to reason with his attacker, rather than just patiently endure what could not be avoided, which is the fate of the weak everywhere. Remember, if you are the dog being kicked, you can’t bite back.
Bardimu’s belief is harsh treatment will extinguish nerd behavior. But like I have said, an excess of negative feedback is actually counterproductive. On the slim chance you work with a person like this, and want to try to change his behavior, you should calmly and patiently explain why it is annoying- “Hey if people say shit to you, just leave it. If they have a point, admit it, if not just leave it, no point in arguing, it just gets people more upset. Just chill.” But again this guy isn’t motivated to take advice from anybody.
Once you are out of high school, you no longer have to deal with quite the same situation. College is not a closed environment, and so provides no motivation for ranking. Your job is not high school, but neither is it a bastion of enlightenment and tolerance. Another situation is getting shit from people. There are two kinds of shit- giving shit to your friends, which is a way of bonding and passing the time, and giving shit to people lower than you, which is a way of asserting social superiority.
Years ago I worked in Florida, but on occasion would be sent up north for short periods. Living in Florida I had little need for outerwear, but I had an overcoat for travel in the winter. In this particular situation, it was the fall, not cold enough for an overcoat, so I was wearing a hooded sweatshirt for warmth. Strictly speaking, the appropriate item would have been a jacket with the company logo on it, but I wasn’t going to spend $200 for something I would hardly ever use.
For about three days in a row, this one guy made comments about my sweatshirt. “Nice sweatshirt” he said. Was this friendly shit, or dick shit? He wasn’t really a bad guy, but he was one of those guys who obviously likes to think of himself as a wiseass. I think it teetered on the edge between the two. People who give bad shit, when called on it, always say they were “just joking” and you “shouldn’t be so sensitive about it.” They want bad shit to be classified as good shit. There is an interesting story in “Will”, by G. Gordon Liddy, like this. He is sitting on a prison bus, and they are all handcuffed. A guy in the next row grabs his glasses. He stands up, turns to the guy next to him, and says. “I’m going to kill him by kicking him in the neck. If you listen you’ll be able to hear the bones break.” He cocks his leg and aims it at the guy’s neck, and the guy quickly relents and gives him his glasses back. “I was just joking”, he said, in defense of his actions.
No, he was not “just joking”, he was looking to fuck with somebody to show or improve his status. Obviously this isn’t the way to go, unless you are actually in prison, or the part-time prison called K-12 education. But if the person involved is not actually your friend, the shit is not friendly.
So what did I do? I wanted to tell the guy to shut the fuck up about my sweatshirt, but instead I just said “Thanks” to his various sarcastic compliments. I think I was there for a week, and after three days he gave up on rather tired wiseassery. I was respected there, so I didn’t really care anyway. The advice to “just ignore them” is tired because it doesn’t really work in a closed environment such as a school, but is at least somewhat effective with adults.