Nerdiness Could Save Our Lives
I’m a nerd. A nerd that played college sports, loves trap music, and typically doesn’t have a problem finding a nice woman to accompany me on dates, but a glorified nerd, nonetheless. I didn’t really know what a “nerd” was when I was younger. At first, I thought all the intelligent people were nerds. The caste system of public high school quickly rectified that misjudgment, though. You could be smart and cool. You couldn’t always act smart if you were cool, but you could still get by without becoming a second-class high school citizen. As ’ve become older and nerdier though, I can loosely define a nerd as someone with a passionate craving for intellectual stimulation; someone that might prefer, even, for their mind to be stimulated in lieu of their body in some cases. Better still, their body is stimulated, they become excited, by their mind being stimulated.
This concept of nerdiness has become increasingly interesting to me as, from my perspective, the ways of the world have become more and more divisive. From a national media circus that values click-through-rate above solid fact sources, to a Commander-in-Chief that has lied time and time again, routinely confusing and misleading the very people he has been elected to serve. Nerdiness in the world today is one of our strongest defenses against the seemingly infinite forces that seek to further elevate the elevated and marginalize the marginalized.
One of the most important things I’ve learned about learning is...
Your mind and your heart must always remain open to evaluating new, different, and opposing ideas.
I know that concept isn’t novel, and I’m not telling you anything you haven’t heard before. With that said, why aren’t you keeping your mind and heart open, always, to evaluating new, different, and opposing ideas? We get so confident and prideful about what we believe in, that sometimes we have a viscerally combative reaction to ideas and concepts that seem foreign.
That. Is. A. Weakness.
It’s been super fun to learn about things in which I’m interested, things that concern me, things that excite me. It has been super helpful to learn about the antithesis of those things. Last week alone, I read two articles on Medium that unsettled me, but I was only even able to be unsettled because I was exploring the portion of the website where people write blogs about stuff that I (thought I) didn’t care about.
The first article was written by a man who claims that he’s a part of a team of anthropologists that are doing federal research on culture. The purpose of this research is to collect and preserve information and artifacts about culture in the world as it stands today, because the government is already aware that the world will end (relatively) soon due to climate change and a lack of natural resources. I could probably write an article about this in and of itself, but there were two main questions I had: why is this not a priority communication that is being delivered to people in power so that they can make executive decisions, AND when you say “preserving culture,” what do you mean? Are the cultures of the marginalized being accounted for? Will there be any effort made in this “preservation” to enlighten future generations about the turmoil that powerful, oppressive systems have wreacked havoc on the Earth?
Gah. So many questions. Anyway, the second article was by a man in San Francisco who claimed that marginalized people, black people in particular, wanted all white people to vacate their privilege in order to “flip the script,” and enact violence and oppression against them. I was appalled by the viewpoint, especially with the prevalence of Black Panthers and other activists in the Bay Area during a critical time in activist history. First, it sounds like he has a guilty conscience. Second, he has a complete misunderstanding of the fight for equal rights and what it means to co-habitate here as people. The scariest thing about his article is that there were tens of comments, mostly from other white males, agreeing enthusiastically with his viewpoint and analysis. These are the people we’re up against. Those that oppose freedom and equality.
In Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s, “We Should All Be Feminists,” she talks about her belief that “traditional” gender roles are impractical because of human evolution. There was a time where physical strength was the most important attribute to have, because it was needed to survive. Naturally, men would partake in more leadership roles because they had the qualities necessary to sustain and propagate life for the good of the group. Well, Chimamanda and I agree that that’s not the case anymore. Intellectual prowess; the ability to think critically and enact solutions against the problems that face us, is the single most important skill that we need today. Balance will always be critical. The physical and the mental. But the mind guides the hands. We need to have a plan.
One of my favorite quotes of all time is by my favorite novelist of all time, Zora Neale Hurston. If you are silent about your pain, they will kill you and say you enjoyed it. As we speak out against injustices and try to make life here better for us and future generations, we have to be aware of what we’re up against. It’s not always about winning an argument or telling somebody that they’re wrong. Sometimes, it’s simply being aware of the devices that oppressors want to use against you, that way, you can better prepare yourself to protect yourself. Read something this week. Or watch something. Or listen to something. Something that yesterday you would have thought you had no business reading or watching or listening to. Maybe you’ll insert yourself into an intellectual debate. Maybe you’ll learn something you need to protect yourself. At best, you’ll teach somebody something, elevate their minds. At worst, you’ll learn something new.