t a recent convention, child actor and well-credentialed nerd ambassador Will Wheaton sat on a panel attended by conventioneers. During the question-and-answer period one convention-goer (with a video camera) told Mr. Wheaton about her recently born daughter and asked him to describe for her daughter what was awesome about being a nerd.
The answer Mr. Wheaton gave was profound. In my opinion it was dead-on and touched the very zeitgeist of the feeling I try to get across in this blog. No matter what it is you love: Dr. Who, classical composers, Star Wars, architecture, animation, parenting… it’s all about loving those things as much as you can, and finding other people who love those same things as much as you do.
The convention-goer put the video up on YouTube and it is currently making the viral-rounds in nerd-circles (which I thoroughly travel). Of course you can just watch the video below if you like. But I think some things are so profound, so important, they are worth writing down.
Here are Will Wheaton’s words on why it’s awesome to be a nerd:
“So there’s going to be a thing in your life that you love… The way you love that thing and the way that you find other people who love it the way you do is what makes being a nerd awesome.”
Hi, Violet. My name is Will Wheaton. It’s 2013 and you’ve just recently joined us on planet Earth, so welcome.
I’m an actor and I’m a writer and I’m a dad and your mother asked me to tell you why it’s awesome to be a nerd and that’s an easy thing for me to do because that’s who I am. I don’t know what the world’s going to be like by the time you understand this. I don’t know what it’s going to mean to be a nerd when you are a young woman. For me, when I was growing up being a nerd meant that I liked things that were a little weird, that took a lot of effort to appreciate and understand. It meant that I loved science and I loved playing board games and reading books and really understanding what went on in the world instead of just riding the planet through space.
When I was a little boy people really teased us about that and made us feel like there was something wrong with us for loving those things. Now that I’m an adult I’m kind of a professional nerd and the world has changed a lot and I think a lot of us have realized that being a nerd, or being a “geek” is another word you’ll hear and I sort of use the terms interchangeably, it’s not about what you love. It’s about how you love it.
So there’s going to be a thing in your life that you love and I don’t know what it’s going to be. It might be sports. It might be science. It might be reading. It might be fashion design, it might be building things. It might be telling stories or taking pictures. It doesn’t matter what it is. The way you love that and the way that you find other people who love it the way you do is what makes being a nerd awesome.
The defining characteristic of us, the people in this room – and I’m going to ask your mom to turn this camera around in a minute. Go there, go mom. **camera pans around to show a convention hall chalk-full of enthusiastic nerds** The defining characteristic that ties us all together is that we love things. Some of us love Firefly, and some of us love Game of Thrones, and some of us love – these are things you’ll be able to go see. They’re in your nerd history book. Some of us love Star Trek or Star Wars or anime or games or fantasy or science fiction. Some of us love completely different things, but we all love those things so much that we travel thousands of miles – which is probably easy for you but we’re still on fossil fuels. I don’t know what you’re going to be on, but it’s difficult. We come from all over, in some cases all over the world, so that we can be around people who love the things that we love the way that we love them. And that’s why being a nerd is awesome.
Don’t ever let anybody tell you that that thing that you love is a thing that you can’t love. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t love that, that’s for boys. You have to love this because you’re a girl. You find the things that you love and you love them the most that you can. And listen, this is really important, I want you to be honest, honorable, kind. I want you to work hard because everything worth doing is hard. And I want you to be awesome. And I’m going to do my very best to leave you a planet that you can still live on. Have a great life.
Below is the YouTube video if you’d like to watch it for yourself. The lesson here is that whatever kind of nerd you are, celebrate it. It’s all about love. In the comments below share with us what kind of nerd you are.