U Students Weigh in on What it Means to Be a ‘Geek’


(Graphic by Grey Leman)

(Graphic by Grey Leman)
(Graphic by Grey Leman)

Pull out those wide-rimmed glasses, pocket protectors and suspenders, because geek is in.
Although historically viewed as a term referring to someone who lacks social prowess, the definition of geek is quickly changing.
Geeks have always been well represented on popular television. With his suspenders, big glasses and poor posture, Steve Urkel from the ‘90s sitcom “Family Matters” became the poster-child for geekdom. Leonard, Sheldon, Howard and Raj from “The Big Bang Theory” exemplify the lovability of geeks in more recent popular culture as well.
What is a geek, then? And is a nerd the same thing? Many students at the U weighed in.
Katie Smithson, a junior in anthropology, believes in most cases the terms ‘geek’ and ‘nerd’ can be used interchangeably.
“However, being a geek is more about how the person looks than how smart they are,” Smithson said. “There are physical stereotypes associated with being a geek, whereas nerds are just really smart.”
Bob Miller, a sophomore in Asian studies, said he sees little difference between the two descriptions.
“Anyone who is obsessed with something can be considered a nerd or a geek about that interest,” he said. “I’m a sports geek and proud of it.”
Nora Abu-Dan, a senior in economics, said everyone is a little bit geeky, but in a good way.
“No one is put-together all the time,” Abu-Dan said. “I think everyone should allow themselves to show their geeky side every once in a while. If that’s how you roll, that’s cool.”
When straw polled, a majority of U students said the “geekiest major” on campus is engineering. Abu-Dan said metallurgical engineering, specifically, is the geekiest major offered at the U.
“I don’t even know what that is, but it just sounds like you have to be really smart to study it,” Abu-Dan said.
Emily Van Allen, a senior in urban ecology, said nuclear engineering is most geeky in her opinion.
“I should know, I used to be one,” she said. “I also love math and science, watch ‘Doctor Who’ and own a pink Power Rangers t-shirt. I guess I am a geek.”
Brian Christensen, a junior in computer science, said being a geek is cool in today’s culture.
“Geeks tend to get the highest-paying jobs and be remembered,” Christensen said. “Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were probably considered geeks when they were in school too, and look at their legacy now.”
Amy Brown, a senior in English literature, said we have geeks to thank for modern innovations and technologies.
“Geeks change the world,” Brown said. “If it weren’t for geeks, we’d probably still be reading by candlelight and riding horses for transportation.”
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