Jessica Ryan
Jessica Ryan

Oh, my lovely nerds. Longtime readers of this column (insert heart-eye emoji here) surely know how much I absolutely despise the concept of "nerd cred." The whole idea that there are some people who are "better" nerds than other nerds is just revolting and completely goes against everything that makes being nerdy an awesome thing. Frankly, it makes me embarrassed to call myself a nerd.

Despite my best efforts (and the efforts of legions of other kickass nerds) to make sure people know their nerd cred is about as valuable as their Klout score, the message seems not to have stuck. It looks like it's time for a Good Ol'Fashioned Jess Ryan Throwdown.

Lately I've heard far too many tales of nerds who decided to hide their nerdiness — not because people would make fun of them for being nerds, but because they were catching flak for not being nerdy enough. One friend wanted to talk to people about Doctor Who but was shunned by the fandom as soon as he mentioned he hadn't watched the classic episodes. I heard someone loudly complain about a guy at a World Cup watch party who was "only interested in the match because he was on the soccer bandwagon." Even His Nerdness Wil Wheaton got shit a few months ago because he'd set a goal of reading "only" 20 books in a year.

What the hell, you guys?


You don't get to decide whether someone's a "real" geek or whether they belong at your event. Yes, it can be tiresome dealing with people who are somewhat clueless, and it's frustrating when people don't actually know what's going on.

But remember what it was like the first time you watched Sherlock, or got your first 100th Twitter follower, or planned your first cosplay? Those were significant parts of your nerd life. You have no right to steal those magical moments from new members of your community just because you're too full of yourself to have some patience with them.

Being a jaded asshole doesn't mean you get to treat new (or even less-invested) members of your community like shit. If people are exploring a new passion or hobby, they deserve to be welcomed, encouraged and supported by the community. Because that's exactly what communities are supposed to be — safe spaces for people to come and participate in exchanges (of all sorts) about their various interests. Anything else is nothing more than a scene, where people replace passion for power and support for status ... which is way more fake than any n00b I've ever met.

Jess Ryan is a community manager and CU grad. She writes about nerdy things once a week for the Colorado Daily. On Twitter: @jessryanco.