Monday, July 04, 2005

Why Nerds Love Science Fiction

As someone who once read most of an article on the Internet about psychology, I feel I am qualified to write with some authority on the underlying emotional motivations and mental inner-workings of other people, in this case nerds. Also, being a card-carrying nerd myself qualifies me to speak for nerds everywhere, since logically they all must think the same as I do.

Specifically, I'd like to address a question that everyone has had at one point, but evidently has been afraid to ask. Or maybe they don't care. Either way, I'm still going to write about it: why do nerds like science fiction so much?

Nerds Love Things That No One Else Understands
Do you know what Linux is? How would you install it? What's the difference between a quasar and a nebula? How would you mod a Playstation? What the heck is "modding" anyway?

If you don't know the answer to these questions (most likely some of you do), you belong to the vast majority. The thing is, nerds know you don't know the answers, and this gives them great satisfaction. Secretly, it makes us feel superior to you. Most nerds would never admit to this, so if you talk to one who disagrees with me, they are obviously in denial. (This is actually true of anyone who disagrees with anything I say. I know. Strange.)

This is one of the reasons nerds love science fiction. What's the maximum warp speed possible for a starship or any other space vehicle? What's the difference between a TIE fighter and an X-Wing? What's Klingon for "Have a nice day"? What, you don't know? Ha! Even now, I can imagine my fellow nerds demonstrating their mental superiority by posting answers to these questions in the comments.

A Nerd's Brain Is Hard-Wired For Obsession
I have no empirical evidence to support this statement. But this is the Internet, so I don't need any. However, this is the only explanation for why "gamers" spend so many hours in their bedrooms at their computers trying to beat Halo 3 that their complexions start to resemble that of a juiced carrot. Or why someone would go through the trouble to build a stormtrooper's costume to wear as they wait in line for a movie that will not open for another month. Or why someone would write a blog posing as a fictional tiny green Jedi master.

I visited a Star Wars message board the other day and noticed a rather emotional debate about whether Yoda had contributed more to the Jedi Order than Mace Windu. It went like this:

"Obviously, you haven't read Star Wars: Shatterpoint. If you had, you would know how Mace created the Form VII discipline of combat..."

"But everyone knows the books aren't canon..."

At the end of this extremely long thread that went on for 16 pages, I don't think "WinduTheMan_1992" and "clone_trooper_at852" were friends anymore. If they weren't separated by cyberspace, I think this argument would've ended in a fist fight. You just can't find this kind of obsession among the non-nerd population.

Look Who the Heroes In Science Fiction Are
This is the biggest reason why nerds love science fiction. Can you possibly find bigger nerds than Mr. Spock or Commander Data? Why, in Star Trek: The Next Generation a nerd gets to be captain! And don't get me started on the dorkiness of Luke Skywalker. These are all extremely popular characters, yet one can imagine most of them being beat up in school for their lunch money.

Consider the cast of any Star Trek show. Who makes up the bridge crew? Don't they look like your high school's computer club? Of course, they do. Who else would have the skill required to work all of that sophisticated technology but the guys in the IT department at your company?

In conclusion, science fiction serves an important purpose in society today. It keeps us nerds too busy to put our considerable brain power to some practical application, which would no doubt result in our conquest of the entire planet. You non-nerds should be grateful.

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