I love weirdness. I myself am fairly weird, my friends are weird as well, hence why we are friends. I love science fiction and fantasy, genres which are considered weird by many. I like costume jewelry and graphic t-shirts. I go to Renaissance Faires and still love Disney movies and parks.
Needless to say, I’m a total nerd and proud of it. I’m encouraged to see the acceptance of nerd and geek culture. It makes finding and collecting movies, books, and clothing much easier. It also makes it easier to meet other fans.
But is being weird becoming a contrivance rather than a natural expression? Is being weird an excuse for being antisocial and rude? Are we teaching the next generation of nerds that part of the profile is to be painfully shy, to avoid eye contact and conversion? Are we telling them that part of being a bookworm or a gamer is choosing books and games over friends? The Social Anxiety Cat and other introvert, book worm memes would seem to indicate yes.
It's not just the Internet that makes me wary, it's attempting to interact with teens and adolescents. When I see someone my age or older wearing a fandom shirt, we can usually exchange a few pleasantries. With people younger than twenty however, they often, but thankfully not always, seem rather miffed at being addressed. Some mumble, others completely ignore me.
It's not just , "Hey, I like your Harry Potter purse," that grants me the blank stare, it's when, as part of my job, I ask how many pieces of clothing is being taken into the fitting room, or if I can help them find anything that I get little or no response.
When did being yourself mean not speaking when addressed? Yet, I deal with it every day at work, church, or anywhere I encounter teens. I understand that part of being a nerd, or a geek, or even a teenager is defining your own concept of self but shouldn’t common courtesy still be practiced?
I also realize that parents are trying to let their kids of all ages become more comfortable with themselves and not forcing them into some social interactions. Being shy or introverted is completely normal. However, doesn’t there come a time when kids need to interact even when they don’t feel like it?
Life is stuffed with situations where we need to push past apathy, lethargy, and any other negative emotions. As far as I can tell, there is no way to eradicate all social interaction and there should not be. I understand the desire to limit interactions and even to temporarily suspend them for a bit. After all, we all need a break from time to time.
I’m not just picking on nerdy teens by the way; in general that age group can be pretty antisocial. I just have noticed it more among that specific group. A also realize that anxiety is a real condition, however, I believe that real anxiety is different that than simply not wanting to speak and socialize. I realize that the issue could be a local one, but again, memes and posts online make me doubt that.
Again, I’m not trying to be unkind or to label everyone in a certain group. I’m just sharing my observations and concerns. I know what it’s like to be a shy kid, but if my parents hadn’t made me say, “please” and “thank you” hadn’t encouraged me to answered the home phone , and to make friends perhaps I’d be a very closed off adult who didn’t know how to communicate with others.