My brother, Moon, seems to think that I might be a bit of a nerd. Now, the question is, is he right? Should I be depressed and insulted by this, or should I just take it as a bit of a backhanded compliment?
I decided that I needed a good definition of the term before I could make my decision. So, here we have two:
Nerd: (slang, derogatory) A person who, although having good technical or scientific skills, is introspective and generally introverted.
Nerd is a term often bearing a derogatory connotation or stereotype, that refers to a person who passionately pursues intellectual activities, esoteric knowledge, or other obscure interests that are age-inappropriate rather than engaging in more social or popular activities. Therefore, a nerd is often excluded from physical activity and considered a loner by peers, or will tend to associate with like-minded people.
Straightaway, one sees that the term is a derogatory (insulting, disparaging, offensive, belittling ..... you get the point ....) one. So, I should be offended. But, wait, what about the rest of the definition? Now we get to the point where I could start to take it as a compliment. It would mean that I have good technical or scientific skills, which, I suppose we can all agree on. I must have some skill in that area given the amount of time that I have spent with my nose in a book, in dusty libraries photocopying endless scientific journal articles and sitting around in a lab, looking like I was doing something technical and looking vaguely scientific since I was wearing a white lab coat. (OK, so much of my time might have been spent chatting with friends, playing Doom and surfing real estate sites looking for million dollar houses that I could never, ever possibly afford).
So, what actually bought on this nerdy accusation by brother Moon? Well, I made the mistake of taking him bird watching and it seems that he thinks bird watching is a typically nerdy thing to do. To be fair, we were not just bird watching, we were actually catching birds in mist nets, identifying them, taking measurements and banding them before releasing them. This allows bird populations and migrations to be monitored and studied. Now bird watching is not something that I have done much of, and I certainly do not fit the nerd description given above for this. But, I figured it makes a change from insects, and once in a while, I actually stand a chance of identifying a bird down to species level. So far, this had not happened very often. Here we can see the typical conversation between me and Derek, the Masterbander (oh read it more carefully, I said masterBANDER!), as we disentangle a bird from one of the nets:
Derek, MB: “So, what do you think it is?”
Me: “A bird?”
Derek, MB: “Well, obviously, but do you know what kind of bird?”
Me: “A little brown bird?”
Derek, MB, sighing: “I guess we need a little more work on our ID skills then?”
Me: “Hmmmm, yes - can I come back next week then?”
Derek, MB: “Can you bring coffee and muffins?”
Me: “What about doughnuts?”
Derek, MB: “OK then.”
So, I am thinking, not terribly nerdy at this point. Perhaps after a bit more time!?! Derek, the masterbander, started birding when he was 6, so I have a lot of catching up to do. There were several other people there, all rather better with their bird ID than me and I did catch my brother muttering away “Nerd Alert.....Nerd Alert....” on several occasions. He might have a point where they are concerned, but they were all very nice people, so who really cares?
Anyhoo, I am off to do a bit of bird watching now. Later, I shall continue my species summary on Swainson’s thrush (it is a bird, not a disease!) and we shall see, perhaps one day I shall attain nerd status. And when I do, I shall be proud of it!
Tuesday, 5 January 2010