Smart Is The New Sexy
Remember how when you were growing up, the smart kids were usually the ones who got made fun of. I know I was called a nerd quite a bit. In grade 4 and 5 some of the students were given an extra project to do to keep us busy, since teachers thought we were getting bored. I was the only girl in that small group, and believe me, everyone else noticed. I like to think I handled it well, but my self esteem was really low. Being smart wasn’t good enough for me when my friends were the ones the boys were noticing. I think some of that has now carried on into adulthood, because I tend to be a bit of a know-it-all, and am worried about how I get perceived.
Something strange has happened in the past few years, though. I think it’s relating to the increasing use of technology and the internet. Information is everywhere, so people are able to learn more, faster. When they aren’t watching videos about cats, that is.
Youtube has definitely helped this change, though. A few of my super-nerdy favourites are VSauce (sciency explanations to cool things, everything from the science of the friendzone, to how the English language has evolved, to what it would feel like to be sucked into a black hole) and SciShow (I like the I-Don’t-Think-It-Means-What-You-Think-It-Means videos where scientific concepts that have made their way into popular culture are explained as what they really mean, not how they are often used. Like this one about Shrodinger’s Cat.)
And then there’s television. Of course here I’m going to talk about Big Bang Theory, because it is a really funny show. I mean, I’m sure some people just watch it because the waitress who lives across the hall from the guys is super hot, but some of us also appreciate the jokes on the show. This one’s my dad’s favourite:
A farmer noticed that his chickens were sick, and called in a biologist, a chemist, and a physicist to help diagnose the problem. The biologist observed the chickens, concluding, “I can tell you there’s something wrong with your chickens, but I don’t know what’s causing it.” The chemist took fluid samples from the chickens back to his lab, and returned saying, “I can tell you what’s infecting your chickens, but I don’t know how they got it.” Meanwhile, the physicist had been sitting on the floor, scribbling maddly on several notebooks worth of paper. Suddenly, he jumped up, exclaiming, “I have the answer, but it only works for spherical chickens in a vaccuum.”
Ha! Science jokes! Isn’t physics fun, kids?!? It was much funnier when he said it. You can hear the joke here if you didn’t like reading it off a page.
And TVbythenumbers.com showed that the Big Bang Theory was number one for ratings again last week, with over 12 million views. When did nerd humor become more interesting than game shows, Family Guy, and even Ellen? I think our views on intelligence are changing. More people want to know how the world works, and are seeking out information they wouldn’t regularly have access to. Or maybe we have just realized that all of these new technological advances rely on the people who create them to continue with our current rate of progress.
Whatever the cause, I think we are now more open to talking about the things that might be considered “nerdy”, and accept that those things are parts of who we are. Some of us just really like jokes about science, or can relate to nerdy characters everywhere and the struggles they face in social settings. Maybe not to the same extreme as the characters on the Big Bang Theory, but parts of us remember those days of being teased for being smart. I guess there’s a little bit of nerd in everyone. Embrace it. This is who you are, and you don’t need to be afraid of people seeing it anymore.