We live a persecuted life, we geeks. People constantly get us confused with other, lesser social classes. This isn’t their fault. It’s a problem born of ignorance of past generations, or a lack of proper education. “Saved by the Bell” probably didn’t help much either. Most people use a very broad definition. Geeks are tiring of this, and want an image change.
Being a geek isn’t a bad thing at all. Most times when people react badly to being called a geek they think they are being referred to as either a nerd, dork, or dweeb. Most don’t register the subtle distinction.
A dork is a person of weak intellect, social skills, and hygiene. The nearest fictional equivalent is Napoleon Dynamite. Dorks generally hang out in small groups of 2-3 other dorks. They don’t excel in school but can play hours playing role-playing games with their closest friends. A dork generally evolves into one of the two higher classes.
Dweebs are people of standard intelligence but with low social skills. They tend to keep to themselves, but are really quite interesting. With dedication dweebs can become a full-fledged geek. Dweebs are easily confused with nerds, but Dweebs are more likely to start up a conversation. Think Anthony Michael Hall in The Breakfast Club, not Sixteen Candles. The character was definitely a nerd.
Nerds have an exceptional mind, passable hygiene, but no social skills whatsoever. Nerds do hang out with non-nerds, but it is generally a subservient relationship in which the nerd performs some academic or intellectual tasks in exchange for protection or status. Nerd characters often appear in the background of movies and TV shows, usually in groups. Steve Urkel was a popular fictional nerd in the early nineties.
The highest of all the classes is the fabled and fashionable geek. A geek is a man of exceptional intellect, broad and developed interests and hobbies, great personal hygiene, and amazing social skills. Geeks can often be confused with “norms” until their true geekitude breaks through in a game of Trivial Pursuit. Geeks are the only class with a strong shot at landing a girlfriend. Generally shunned in High School Geeks are hot commodities among women in their mid and late twenties.
Many celebrities are geeks. Jack Black is an example of a dork who converted to geekdom. Zach Braff, Jason Schwartzman, and Topher Grace are all natural-born geeks. Tarintino upgraded from nerd to geek.
While it’s understandable that there would be some confusion in these common terms, that does not excuse continued ignorance. The sooner people understand the difference between these classes the sooner geeks will stop being marginalized.