Why Nerds Are Unpopular

Paul Graham, Website, May 28, 2007
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This has been around for a few years, but it's absolutely worth a read, because I think anyone who has been a nerd at school will recognize how true it rings. Worth quoting:

"Why are smart kids so consistently unpopular? The answer, I think, is that they don't really want to be popular... Nerds serve two masters. They want to be popular, certainly, but they want even more to be smart. And popularity is not something you can do in your spare time... Nerds don't realize this. They don't realize that it takes work to be popular.

"You get much worse treatment from a group of kids than from any individual bully, however sadistic... Because they're at the bottom of the scale, nerds are a safe target for the entire school.

"Like prison wardens, the teachers mostly left us to ourselves. And, like prisoners, the culture we created was barbaric... The inhabitants of all those worlds are trapped in little bubbles where nothing they do can have more than a local effect. Naturally these societies degenerate into savagery.

"Bullying was only part of the problem. Another problem, and possibly an even worse one, was that we never had anything real to work on... And there was no way to opt out."
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