“You’re always in here on that PlayStation! Who are you talking to on the computer? All of that money for a toy? And what are those cards?”
Who among us has never found themselves admonishing their children like this?
Today we are talking to Antonio Moro, the founder of the Lega Nerd website, which is an invaluable resource for fans of video games, films, TV shows and Japanese cartoons, as well as for anyone with a general thirst for knowledge. With Antonio’s help, we want to give the lie to some commonly held beliefs and improve your knowledge of the world of young people.
Hi Antonio. Thanks for agreeing to introduce yourself and your world to our readers. Let’s start by exploding a stereotype: does “nerd” mean “loser”? What is a nerd?
The meaning of the word “nerd” has changed a lot over the years: until 10 or 20 years ago, it was a negative label given to oddballs who were interested in things that everyone else considered boring and totally antisocial. Since then, the image of “nerds” has been completely transformed because most of their interests are now “popular”. For instance, take computing and technology in general, not to mention comics and certain genres of films.
Those nerd friends that you previously considered a bit geeky are now the people that you turn to for advice and the latest news, because we all have smartphones in our pockets that we don’t know how to use and we always seem to be watching comic-based films at the cinema.
Nowadays, we see “nerds” as people who are simply very inquisitive and eager to find out all about a wide range of topics. Therefore, the Lega Nerd online magazine talks about absolutely everything. It takes a “nerdish” approach by obsessively explaining everything in great detail.
Would it be true to say that all of the greatest inventors who have changed the course of history, such as Leonardo da Vinci, were nerds?
Yes, definitely. We like to say that the 21st century is the century of nerds. Our “fellow nerds” invented most of the technologies and platforms that have become an indispensable part of everyday life, but in actual fact in every century there have been inquisitive, dedicated people who have revolutionized their time, and it would be fair to call these people “nerds”.
We would like to refute another common myth today: are all nerds antisocial?
No, that is a misconception from the past, when nerds had interests that were not “popular” so they had to “shut themselves away” in little groups or special clubs, thus giving the impression that they were “antisocial”. Actually, nerds have always sought to share their interests like this and expand their “circles” more and more. Modern events dedicated to nerd culture attract hundreds of thousands of people (take Lucca Comics & Games for example) and new initiatives are launched almost every week. Sharing and socializing is at the heart of our culture.
With the unbounded growth of technology, the number of “nerds” is unquestionably growing. What do you think of this new ultra-connected generation who want to share photos and videos with strangers and strike up relationships online?
The popularization of technology is really frowned upon by some old school nerds, who feel like the “magic” that was once only known to us has to some extent been devalued now that it is accessible to everyone.
I see things differently and I am certainly not the only one. I believe that we are going through a cultural revolution and that our values are at the heart of it. What more could we want? Things that were niche products and services until 20 years ago are now catering to everyone and this brings huge advantages for industry and the market in general. It significantly steps up the pace of innovation.
This is a transition period. Very powerful tools have been given to a generation of digital natives who may not yet have fully grasped the pros and cons of online socializing. All of this has led to horror stories that have TV reporters licking their lips and it will continue to do so, but at the end of the day we are seeing the emergence of a more connected, more aware and less ignorant world, which I would say is a very good thing.
What are the differences and similarities between past and present nerds?
Their distinctive features are the same, as I have already explained. The biggest difference is that today’s nerds are not just accepted, they are actually put on a pedestal by popular culture. People who worked with computers were once antisocial losers but now they are friends that you ask for help. Paradoxically, 20-year-olds who have made billions online are now cool.
Here’s a tricky one: what five tips would you give to our readers to help them to understand the young nerds of today?
Anything can be nerdy: some people get into role-playing games and others into bonsai, some into insects and others into football. It is not the subject itself that makes you a nerd, it’s how you go about it and the level of dedication that you show.
Most of your nerd friends will use Google to find the answers to your questions. Next time, leave them alone and learn to use a search engine for yourself.
Politics and religion are two topics that we don’t tend to like. They are populistic, lacking in logic and too closely associated with useless current affairs.
Did you know that you can get help with your computers and smartphones by actually going into a shop and paying for assistance? Just saying.
Most nerds are rich and prosperous. All stereotypes in that respect have a firm grounding. And I’m saying that to all of you beautiful blondes looking for a man with a Ferrari!
Thank you very much for doing this interview. Let’s hope that we’ve given a clear overview of the world of nerds. It’s something that we could talk about for hours. Could you sign off by giving us three nerd acronyms and their meanings?
I’m sure that you already know the most famous ones, so here are a few that people use in response to “Muggles” like you:
RTFM – Read The Fucking Manual.
JFGI – Just Fucking Google It.
AYF – All Your Fault.