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Nerd or Geek

The popular term these days is Geek.
But the sound of that word sets my teeth on edge.
To me it elicits visions
Of poorly dressed teenagers lacking social skills
Bumbling their way through life
Never quite succeeding
Never mastering anything.
Sadly, those connotations are tied to the word Nerd.
A word with a dignified sound to it.
When I was in college, we had "Nerd Pride" pocket protectors.
My thesis advisor gave them out.
"The Recursive Order of Lambda Calculus" they said in red letters
In a clever graphic, repeated smaller and smaller within itself.
Back then, "Hacker" meant someone obsessed with mastering computer esoterica,
Not violator of protected spaces.
Try as we might, our preferred word, "Cracker" never caught on.
So those of us who are obsessed
With mastery of technology,
Or of the challenges of dress and social grace
Cannot call ourselves Hacker or Nerd in public,
Lest we be misunderstood.
Popular usage calls me a geek.
Would that I could call myself hacker
And employ that refined, pleasant sounding word.
With quiet pride I feel in my heart.
I use MY word.
I'm a Nerd!

19 July 2010

by Bill Cattey