I wrote a bit a couple of weeks ago about clique taxonomies, especially as they pertain to the high school movie genre. In my research, I came across some interesting tidbits, which I thought I’d share.
Most high school clique taxonomies make some reference to individuals who are not considered popular: the “outcasts” or “outsiders.” Most commonly, these “others” are labelled geeks, nerds or dorks. (Though the terms dweeb and spaz or spazz are not uncommon.) The use of these terms has usually been extended past the high school age, when clique membership becomes less clear. Interestingly, the taxonomies for these groups have become hotly debated.
For example Militant Geek (“Militant Geek Custom Shirts: Propaganda for a Geek Friendly Future”) offers these words of concern:
An alarming trend that we’ve noticed at the Militant Geek HQ is the sloppy usage of the terms ‘geek’, ‘nerd’, and ‘dork’. It was almost as if certain individuals assumed that they meant the same thing! For the record Geeks are those that have technical aptitude, nerds are bright but socially awkward, and dorks are just inept excuses for protoplasm.
This site has even offered up a “handy comparison chart” to help people understand the differences in the classifications.
Coyote of Not funny…ever offers these words of wisdom in a post called Geek Dweeb or Spaz?
Dork – (Pronounced “Door’k” From the Latin “Murdockious”) A Dork, like the Spaz has all the knowledge and ability of a Geek or a Nerd, but has NO clue
Buckethead of The Ministry of Minor Perfidy offers definitions and discussions in the similarly-titled though differently-punctuated post Geek, Dweeb, or Spaz?
Nerd: the nerd is base type, from which all the others are derived. Nerds are bright, and lacking in social skills. They have odd interests. They are dilettantes, and usually end up consumed by counterproductive pursuits like the SCA, Star Wars collectables, and Star Trek conventions. Some nerds can achieve purpose in life translating the arcane thoughts of the geeks to the mundane normal people. Nerds are hapless, though they often have a goofy charm.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg! Whether it’s the Wikipedia entry for geek an “ask yahoo” response to the fundamental question “What’s the difference between a nerd, a geek, and a dork?” or a discussion board topic on a site called Geek Culture. You can even get t-shirts that help you with the terms, like the cafépress “geek hierarchy” shirt:
Geek Hierarchy: Geek > Nerd > Dork. Geeks design it, Nerds buy it, Dorks break it.
Do you wonder where you fit into the picture? Do you have leanings of geekery, or hints of nerdiness? Or are you just a total dork? There are tests to help! (Well, to help you figure out if you are a nerd or a dork. Finding help with being a dork is another question.)
Okay, I’ll have to post about the tests later. I’d better get to work.