Good Grief…No, Really

Once I asked a girl from church why she never wanted to date me. Her response was, “You know that line in Top Gun where Kelly McGillis tells Tom Cruise that he’ll never be happy unless he’s going mach 2 with his hair on fire, and she can’t handle that?”

“Yes.”

“Cane, that’s you.”

Which I thought was ludicrous, but I’ve since discovered that she knew better than me. As strange as that was: Before today no woman has attempted to judge my attractiveness on a scale that slides from Batman to Anakin Skywalker, as happened in this thread.* That lead to an epiphany: The link between the Manosphere, the Orthosphere, the Gamesphere, and all these other little corporations of the Internet is that most of the folks within them can get along and foster relationships because they each suffer from gruesome and potentially terminal cases of nerd-itis; male and female alike.

r u srs?

Even more bizarre: Some dudes got envious about it.

y u jelly bro?

By the nature of the conversation, and the nature of nerds, this has to sound awfully rude. I’d say about as rude as those cool-kid text-speak phrases above sound dumb, to me. I don’t mean it to be, but as we repeat: No one is a special snowflake. The cool kids accepted these things about themselves a long time ago, and then they set out to crush the bits within themselves that offended the cool. Nerds want to be celebrated for not doing so. That makes nerds profoundly stupid, and snowflakish. If you don’t want to be a nerd: Stop it. You don’t have to sell your collections, but stop showing the nerdilicious goods to the uninitiated.

My old friend–who was not a nerd in high school–strikes me as more Beta everyday. His most frequent correspondences to me are links to goofy Star Wars tee shirts, and Dungeons and Dragons-based puns…which I ignore, that my modesty might spare us both the shame. He never gets the hint, and it weighs on me because I’d really like to enjoy my friend’s jokes, but it seems cruel to laugh as he makes himself a vestigial member of his family.

“Pardon me,” Cane said, “if I don’t chortle as you sink into sexual obsolescence before your wife’s very eyes.”

In summary: It would have been a lot easier for me to have a six-month conversation about cool kids vs. nerds than alphas vs. betas. I see why people like Dalrock have not let me off the hook. He’s a smart dude. I don’t know if I’m the guy to explain this, though.

*Funny, but with some very strange twists in it.

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100 thoughts on “Good Grief…No, Really

  1. When I called you incorrigible, I was joking, LOL.

    But yes, it was a strange (if very funny) thread. It does make one wonder if the perception we get of one another online is anything like the real person.

    It’s one of the reasons I get a kick out of meeting my blogging girlfriends. So far, the ones I’ve met seem exactly like their Internet selves.

  2. I should address the substance of your post, huh?

    You’re right that we tend to skew nerd, which shone through loud and clear on the thread. My husband incidentally would agree with you. When he was a kid, he was a nerd in his home. His brothers called him “the professor” and it wasn’t a compliment. He was fortunate(?) to be sufficiently schooled on the ways of the world by those who loved him.

    His father…well let’s just say he sufficiently planted seeds that made my man a terror when he stepped outside the house. No trace of nerd to be found, and not much was required to get his stomping the heck out of someone who crossed him the wrong way. His one redeeming grace was that he was a defender of the weak.

    All that to say, you have a point. But we can indulge our inner nerd online with kindred spirits, no?

  3. I have a friend that was a total geek when we were kids. He role-played every fantasy RPG that came out in the 80’s, and lived in a world I could never relate to. While I do brotherly-love my friend, I am so glad I am not his wife because he hasn’t changed all that much. My husband role-played Star Wars, too, and he still has his games, but never plays; his priorities have completely altered. He is the perfect balance between hidden geek and manly man.

  4. We need to organize a nerd walk. Sometimes you’ve just got to let it all hang out and commune with your nerdy friends. My husband’s very nerdy underneath, which is why he ended up married to me despite his best intentions; he immediately recognized a kindred spirit.

    All that said, I think the rightosphere shows that there is a concrete benefit to being a nerd: You’re less naturally inclined to just do whatever everyone else is doing, like a mindless lemming. I think it’s important for nerds to learn how to get along in wider society, but I also think that wider society should maybe try learning from us for a change. We’re not wrong about everything.

    The opposite of nerd isn’t alpha, as some nerds are alphas. The opposite is sheeple.

  5. We basically voted on the nerd aristocracy. The reasons they were elected is because they manage to express their nerdom from a manly frame.

  6. You know where you find a lot of nerds and nerdettes? Homeschooling. Overrun with nerds, as we’ve finally found a place to park our children where their LEGO robots don’t get trampled by popular kids. We bond by trading stories of how dorky we were in high school.

  7. We’re not actually “nerds”, you know. That’s the word our naysayers invented to shame us for not following their leadership.

    We’re Counter-Cultural Intelligentsia.

    Yup. And our men are the hottest, so there!

  8. Another nerd hangout: The Latin Mass or any orthodox church service. Full of unrepentant and openly defiant nerds.

    Will we never fit in? *sigh* It’s hopeless.

  9. If you don’t want to be a nerd: Stop it. You don’t have to sell your collections, but stop showing the nerdilicious goods to the uninitiated.

    lol, I was having this conversation with my kids just the other day. You have to make it work for you, owning it is okay, but you don’t have to – you know – publicly wallow in it. Fellow nerds can spot each other a mile off, so it’s not like you’re missing a social opportunity (assuming you’re IN leaves you capable of managing one) or anything. I can’t decide what part is hereditary and what part is conditioning, but it definitely runs in families.

    Good post, Lando.

  10. The opposite of nerd isn’t alpha, as some nerds are alphas. The opposite is sheeple.

    What a good observation!

    I don’t feel like a nerd, though. I’m sure I don’t look like one. How can I be sure?

  11. The balance of power shifts with age as well. Some cool kids grow up. Others hang on to that last touchdown pass and the prom queen. The nerdy kids find gainful employment and then learn to dress, converse, etc., and become cool, assuming they aren’t mired in the traits you described in the post.

  12. I’ve recently been informed by a reliable source that if you homeschool and have a whole passel of kids, you’re nerdy.

  13. LOL, Vanessa.

    I just sat in a Christian Classical home school co-op class this morning for a group we’re thinking of enrolling our girls in next year. The women were yes nerdy, if by nerdy you mean smart. But here was the kicker: they were so feminine. Dressed (not jeans and sweatshirts), makeup, real shoes (not flip flops or sneakers).

    I thought, “Finally, some place where I don’t feel over dressed!” It was very nice. Nerdy Christian women are the cream of the crop.

    Besides, nerdy teen girls who are at least a little bit cute have never had it as bad as nerdy teenage boys, have they? My high school years were fairly mundane. I fit in alright most of the time, except for the fact that I was locked in my tower every weekend.

  14. Elspeth, you never struck me as particularly nerdy. Maybe I don’t understand what a nerd is either. But, there is the homeschool and passel of kids bit.

  15. I’m not particularly nerdy. Of course, the fact that I like Star Wars, Star Trek, and Super Hero comics must mean that on some level, I must be nerdy despite my keen fashion sense, LOL.

    My husband is a closet nerd who somehow managed to navigate well and be popular in spite of it. Still does. Well not “somehow”, I know why he managed it.

  16. Actually Jo, I didn’t get into any of that stuff and had only a rudimentary, peripheral knowledge of them before I met SAM. I hadn’t even see Star Wars in the 70’s. I don’t think I saw the entire movie until we were already married.

    Huh.

  17. My dad was a nerd; he took us all to see Return of the Jedi in the theater. And he built a radio station from nothing. He’s so cool. My choice of husband very much reflects my dad.

  18. I hadn’t even see Star Wars in the 70′s. I don’t think I saw the entire movie until we were already married.

    That’s so sad, I will pray for you.

  19. Won me massive husband points, which are never a waste of time. Trust me, LOL.

    But judging from your wink, I gather that you totally get that.

  20. My choice of husband very much reflects my dad.

    Same here. I’m used to men spending hours every evening on the computer and tinkering with electronics all weekend.

  21. My father is determined to introduce my son into the joys of sci-fi. Everytime they babysit the kids, he’s pulling out the old Star Wars and Star Trek videos (Next Generation primarily, which explains why I had a teenage crush on Jean-Luc Picard). Family traditions live on!

    With my husband, it’s model trains, robot programming, and strategy board games. Thank goodness we have a son, as our daughter has been spared the worst of it.

    I’m not nerdy at all, of course. I have cool hobbies, like blogging debates about canon law and writing homeschooling manuals. Not everyone can be that awesome.

  22. Elspeth, when the cool kids are all dressed androgynously, then dressing feminine is nerdy. They’re not dressed that way in spite of being nerdy, they dress that way because they are nerdy. They’re fashion geeks. Still fashion misfits, after all these years.

  23. May I be serious a moment?

    The mass hallucination that comprises the counter culture merit badge is functionally the most compliant and conformist group in the mix. Hilariously, every generation since the 50’s has spawned a counter culture movement (or two). Hence for example the poor girl who, at my friends 50th b-day party in a Detroit suburb dressed me down for eating some snack food from a can, with her full counter culture regalia, bandana tied back hair, some 60’s musician on her shirt (she was about 23) whatever…specifics don’t matter, and the proud feelings blasting through that she was not like me and the conformists with our khakis and oxford cotton shirts and stuff, hers was a new way (yawn).

    The fact that it is so enthusiastically embraced, almost boasted, is FOLLOWER behavior, not breaking with anything other than holding up a carefully chosen sample of what is perceived to be conformist, and doing/professing something different. Ever wonder who spends more time worrying/thinking about this stuff?

    Who are the sheeple, therefore?

    I think this gets more and more clear as one gains years.

    Seriously…..be yourself. That is really something and nothing simultaneously, in good ways.

    Here is something to add to the statement about nerd not being opposite of alpha:

    Being NOT conformist is not the same as being yourself

    See….I keep repeating this theme, so I must not be a nerd.

    (side note, gosh there is a lot of information in the genesis of this blog post, really a lot)

  24. Besides, nerdy teen girls who are at least a little bit cute have never had it as bad as nerdy teenage boys, have they?

    I don’t know, but high school was a place I was glad to escape alive. All schools are places I’m glad to escape alive, for that matter. In my experience, being cute made it worse because the incongruence with my personality drove everyone bonkers. I should have been cool, you see.

    The benefit nerdy girls have over the guys is that the nerdy sex ration skews strongly in our favor. Of course, nerdy guys are so frustratingly anti-social that you might still never get a date, but you theoretically could get a date. LOL

  25. Being NOT conformist is not the same as being yourself
    See….I keep repeating this theme, so I must not be a nerd.

    LOL

    Nerds aren’t really non-conformists though, are we? We’re just another subculture. As a reactionary, I would argue that there’s nothing particularly noble in “being yourself”. Myself didn’t really want to mop the floors and clean the toilets this morning, but luckily myself is a conformist.

  26. @Elspeth

    Besides, nerdy teen girls who are at least a little bit cute have never had it as bad as nerdy teenage boys, have they? My high school years were fairly mundane.

    Depends on what we’re calling bad. Some things are worse.

    You’re not a nerd, Elspeth. Neither are SV or Joanna, as far as I can tell. Morticia and Vanessa are nerds; though of different sorts from each other.

  27. The best thing about not “being yourself”, is that if you “lose yourself”, you don’t have to traipse off to “find yourself”. Having a self can be very inconvenient that way. Always getting misplaced.

    So, I would argue: Conformism is the new nonconformism. Doing your duty is the new radicalism. Following the rules is revolutionary. Getting married and making babies is the new alternative lifestyle.

  28. @Vanessa

    It’s getting interesting now.

    Bingo.

    It says nothing to call yourself a nerd, or cool. It’s nonsensical. It’s only when others do it that those words are imbued with power.

    Thus, “reclaiming” words is useless. We literally can’t name ourselves. It’s the futility of the slut walk–they could circumnavigate the globe, and when I say “slut”, they’ll still burn.

  29. @Empath

    Seriously…..be yourself. That is really something and nothing simultaneously, in good ways.

    Except we don’t know who in blazes we are. The self is a flame guttered by talking about wind.*

    *For Elspeth. Your poetry, madame.

  30. So, Morty and I are nerds. The Cane has rendered expert verdict. But we belong to different subclasses of nerds, separated by the criteria of whether or not you like us. Am I the dweeb and she the geek? There’s a whole nomenclature, you know.

  31. Sorry, I interpolated. You said We’re Counter-Cultural Intelligentsia.…not exactly non-conformists, so, line through one, replace with other….same point.

    That’s a redirect. I did not mean “be yourself” in such a pedestrian way, though it is very conforming to frame it that way and maximize the nonconformity of the response.
    The reference to there being nothing particularly noble about being yourself is a peek at motive. All I mean is that you are considering appearances far more than those who you hold up as overly concerned with appearances (appearances, not meaning literally physical appearance) I would agree, there is nothing noble or ignoble about being yourself. We can redirect further and say no, we cannot be ourselves and be Christians, etc etc….base desires, so forth, but that’s more misdirection. The problem is far simpler.

  32. I really need to know what kind of nerd I am. I have a feeling it is going to hurt my delicate ego but that is rarely a bad thing.

  33. @Vanessa

    I meant, of course, that you only use the word “nerd” for women you don’t particularly like.

    You are so wrong. More later. You’re just going to have to trust me.

  34. I’m more of a masochist than Vanessa..so while I am expecting my nerd diagnosis to be a rebuke I do trust it will be one of those types where you try to pad it with a few compliments and a “this hurts me more than it hurts you” speech.

  35. I agree with Cane that by the standards of this sphere, I’m not much of a nerd. But a girl from the hood with her nose always in a book was a different story. It’s a relative scale.

    My husband I went to the same high school. I knew who he was. He had no idea who I was until we were graduated and young adults and he decided he wanted me.

  36. Is that where this is headed? More remote psychoanalysis and personal scolding?

    OK, I get it. See y’all elsewhere.

  37. Why you guys take Cane’s critiques to heart is beyond me. He’s hard on women if you hadn’t noticed. It’s how he rolls.

  38. I take Cane’s critiques as a way of seeing how I come across to others. If Cane thinks X then odds are that he isn’t the only one, and if he isn’t the only one then I have to consider whether whatever I am projecting is something I should try not to project.

    I might not always decide that I need to worry..but it is always interesting to me to know whether the I am projecting the image I *think* I am projecting.

    I’ve learned a lot by half the sphere thinking I am a troll. I learned I need to fix my communication style. I didn’t start living under a bridge or anything. Its intel..not a condemnation.

  39. Besides..I think Cane likes me just fine (but not like that). On the internet I serve as a kind of archetype of a certain kind of woman..and I often get the impression it is the archetype that is most representative of the searching-but-coming-up-way-short type. Which isn’t entirely unlikable but is good reference for getting men to understand women.

    I’m kind of ok with being a horrible warning rather than a good example. Kind of..I can’t pretend my ego isn’t occasionally assaulted but because it is much bigger than it ought to be I’ll take it like a man. haha.

  40. As for being one’s self: I’m not sure what that means exactly. I never thought of myself as a submissive wife until people from every direction would repeatedly say, “Wow, How do you do that?”

    I never thought of myself as attractive until this very attractive guy who had dated women more attractive than me said I was.

    People said I was smart and I believed them, until I did some really stupid things.

    Labels are good for the purpose of communication, but I don’t find them nearly as instructive as others seem to.

  41. I’m fairly certain that I am perceived as a silly beta nerd girl that soaks likes attention because I didn’t get enough of it in high school. I’m the beta who wants to be an alpha but gave up and accepted her fate. The female David Alexander.

    Vanessa is the alpha with the heart of a beta..and feels slightly insulted when anyone calls her alpha nerd princess because she thinks they are accusing her of being a try-hard temptress. She gets upset because that is the very last thing she wants to be seen as.

    Meanwhile..I am sitting here wondering what it would be like to be an involuntary alpha princess..it is hard to relate to V because I am not built like Jessica Rabbit with a Golden Ratio face and a 140+ IQ. I can’t lament that I am just drawn bad and am actually quite good. I’m so awful I wish I were drawn bad! lol.

    Indeed..we are opposite ends of the nerd spectrum. And I am dying to know if CC’s analysis is the same as mine.

  42. The female DA? Um, no. I like DA and all that, but you’re nothing like him, Mort. You’re far bolder. Boldness counts for a lot.

    I’ll leave the rest alone because I find it rather preposterous the way you perceive yourself.

  43. Yes, DA is perfectly like-able. I think I am like-able too. I’m just NOT tempting in any way imaginable. I’m silly and friendly (usually). LIke I said..I have accepted my betaness, while V is embarrassed by her alphaness.

  44. I’m just NOT tempting in any way imaginable. I’m silly and friendly (usually). LIke I said..I have accepted my betaness, while V is embarrassed by her alphaness.

    You are so funny Mort. I’m not tempting either but some guy tried to pick me up in the grocery store last week, LOL. I’m feminine and elegant. Insanely in love and I look satisfied. (someone else told me that Cane for the record).That, I assume is its own allure.

    You are pretty and have an open spirit. And you’re in great shape by any standard, but especially after having 6 babies. Embrace it.

  45. My personality kills any attraction my insanely hot body might provoke. They are like “Heeey…” and then I open my mouth and are like “oh, nevermind”. Nerd girl problems.

  46. You ladies are so strange. I’m flattered by any attention I receive, as any woman would be, but as I am off the market, I don’t lament the absence of it either.

    A man complimented me in church one Sunday by telling my husband how lucky he was, That was far more satisfying to me. I was complimented, and my husband was honored and respected.

    It kind of bugs me when men approach me even though I’m wearing a ring. It disrespects my husband.

  47. Its funny that in CC’s abence this thread devolves into accolades and self-depreciation between the ladies. lol. We are so typical.

  48. We are typical, but I have given up trying to convince anyone that I am anything other than the flawed human being that I am. The perfect people can take me or leave me as they wish.

    Whatever my faults, I support my friends.

  49. This is why it is good to have friends. We give each other the benefit of the doubt, and even when that benefit is given in error we are all better because of our friends high expectations of our potential.

    Cane said he was going to be a friend and I believe he is a man of his word so I don’t think V has anything to worry about. Cane knows that she is particularly sensitive about certain types of accusations. Cane also knows that I am only sensitive about being misunderstood..so he may take more liberties in rebuking me.

    And now this thread has become the Morticia Show. Oops.

  50. I’m too dull to be a nerd and I lack the trademark fixated hyper focus necessary to fulfill the role. I’m a nerds wife and a mother and daughter of nerds and all but one of my friends are nerds Nerd affiliated is what I am

  51. It was taken in good faith by me that the negative remarks about my character were meant as good-natured taunts and teases to coax a response from me on Morticia’s blog. A little of the same consideration wouldn’t go amiss; particularly as I haven’t said anything that hasn’t been exuberantly proclaimed by others.

  52. You are right, it is only fair that you should be able to tease back.

    Its just that whenever someone calls Vanessa certain things we have to talk her off the cliff. For her being called a temptress is a sensitive area. Its kind of like how I feel when someone comes along and says that I am a liar. I go kind of super crazy. Seriously, someone did that to me at McDonalds a few weeks ago and the expletives flew. Gosh…now I am angry just thinking about it. &#@*#

  53. @Morticia

    Its just that whenever someone calls Vanessa certain things we have to talk her off the cliff. For her being called a temptress is a sensitive area.

    I’ll keep that in mind. I must say it is a refreshing change of pace to know that–since I neither said nor implied anything of the kind–I’m not the troublemaker in this case.

    Now, are you going to tell me what kind of nerd I am so I can quite hitting refresh? lol

    That I was going to do that was a conclusion leapt to by several others, but to answer your question: You’re the sort of nerds who prefer to use comicbook and sci-fi characters to categorize others. Myself, I’m more partial to movie characters from various genres, but including sci-fi.

    What I am going to write will have to wait until I’m thoroughly done for the day, instead of during smoke-breaks.

  54. What I am going to write will have to wait until I’m thoroughly done for the day, instead of during smoke-breaks.

    Sometimes I feel like you just don’t have your priorities straight. :p

  55. This is what I thought when I first read the article.

    When I was a nerd I talked like a nerd, thought like a nerd, and reasoned like a nerd. Then I became a cool kid and put away nerdy things.

  56. Mort: step away from the DSM-IV NOW. This discussion is for you and your husband.

    Cane, enjoy the flattery. Nerd flattery, but flattery.

    Besides, you are not a geek until you have installed either Arch or Gentoo onto bare metal. Done both. Servers run Debian for a reason.

  57. Chris- Stop hogging all the fun. I can’t afford 8 years of school before i can analyze myself and others. GEESH..next thing you know you will be telling me I should avoid open-heart surgery until I have been properly trained.

  58. @Chris

    When Gentoo first came out, I installed it several times. I got sick of the package manager not completing downloads. Ubuntu is pretty sweet, and I’m dual-booting it on all my machines. Anyway, my world is a Mac world; regardless of my druthers.

    @Morticia

    When I was a nerd I talked like a nerd, thought like a nerd, and reasoned like a nerd. Then I became a cool kid and put away nerdy things.

    If you’re trying to generate attraction (as guys here are concerned about) then cool beats nerd. The fact is that most of us are average in most things, and that average people determine what is cool. Luckily, most average guys don’t bother to even get themselves up to that average level in most things. Fashion (dressing well), for example, really isn’t rocket science; yet most guys are wearing untucked tee shirts, cross-trainers, and jeans.

    Fashion is so average right now that sometimes when I go to How to Talk to Girls at Parties, I think the industry is run by Mr. Rogers. My theory is that this happened because all the real dads were run out of the homes, and he was the only father figure left; pumped in through the TV.

  59. Mort — it was not eight years of post secondary. Six years for the MB: it took me nine years to get my fellowship (you have to pass. exams. with. 30% fail. rates. per. attempt) and then I did a Master’s part time in three years. The minimum time to qualification in NZ is 13 years (6 years med. school, which you enter directly from high school then 2 years intern then 5 years minimum specailist training. So if you start at 18 you will be qualified at 31.
    I spent basically all my 20s and 30s in training: I did not start out in psych (when I left medical school I wanted to work in old age medicine) but commenced specailist training at 30.
    That is fairly typical in the Commonwealth.

    Cane: Gentoos package manager is now broken. Redhat and Debian have functional systems. I think Macs are the best general computers, but I use mine to do odd things that work more smoothly in linux. The most user friendly unix distro now is not ubuntu, but Mint, because cinnamon is simply better.

    All: the antipodean version of the nerd is less into comic books and more into SciFi and gaming, as far as I can see.

  60. I agree with you Cane. Fashion isn’t rocket science. So can someone tell me why so many women walk out the door looking so terrible, LOL???

    Married women seem to be the worst of the worst.

  61. @Elspeth

    Because they’re lazy, and because they’ve bought into the idea that they’re fine just the way they are. Those two winds swirl into a maelstrom of Juicy pajama pants.

    Housewives are the ugliest (as a group) because so many have gotten fat as well, but they’re not always the worst. The best dressed women are in their mid-to-late twenties. They’ve an inkling that they’d better put in a bit more effort, but they haven’t yet lost their youthful charms.

    It’s going to be the habit of some (nearly all) women to agonize over those words, and wonder how they apply to you. Stop it.

    @Joanna

    I think I just got the title of this post.

    I do like understandings that are arrived at, rather than forced upon. They tend to stick better.

  62. It’s going to be the habit of some (nearly all) women to agonize over those words, and wonder how they apply to you. Stop it.

    So what are you trying to say here?

    hehe

  63. Mr. Caldo, I am beginning to reconsider my assessment of you as a keen judge of character. I do not agonize over Internet commentary, LOL. I am however, curious as to which parts of your comment you thought would be a source of feminine angst.

    I know that I am not 25, I have a husband who is brutally honest with me in all things, and a 17 year old daughter who not only bears a striking resemblance to my 17-year-old self, but can make any old thing look like it came from a fashion magazine. Reality is a tether I have no opportunity to escape.

  64. @Elspeth

    Mr. Caldo, I am beginning to reconsider my assessment of you as a keen judge of character. I do not agonize over Internet commentary, LOL. I am however, curious as to which parts of your comment you thought would be a source of feminine angst.

    The part that made you write that second paragraph.

  65. That wasn’t angst, that was me forgetting that I’m not having a private convo with my girlfriends. I’ve been slipping like that a lot lately. Need to dial it back, so thank you.

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