Cook’s Kitchen – Nerd Shame
WARNING: This is not a strategy article.
I may have added that last part of the definition, but you get the idea. Nerd Shame is just the embarrassment that comes with having a nerdy hobby, it’s really nothing to be ashamed of. Every person has their own individualistic interests or activities that they’re a part of, what other people think of it shouldn’t be anyone’s concern. However, while society has accepted some “Dorky” or “Nerdy” things as a part of culture, they still have a stigma towards others. For example, Superheroes, once a classic nerd identifier are now very mainstream. Partially due to the continuous stream of new movies featuring caped crusaders such as this summer’s blockbuster films – “The Avengers” or “The Dark Knight Rises”.
Something I’ve found amusing is when telling a lady how “Nerdy” I am, they often say, “Oh, I am too! I love Harry Potter!”
Look, Harry Potter is pretty much the exact opposite, that series is defining popular culture but I appreciate you trying to relate. Hobbies such as card games, either Magic: The Gathering or Yu-gi-oh aren’t as widely accepted as their comic book counterparts. Just look at the John Finkel fiasco where a woman pretty much flipped out when she found out who he was. In hindsight, he’s better off without someone who can’t accept him for who he is, but that’s not the point.
As a semi-competitive Magic player, I’ve spent most of my life juggling the fact that I play Magic with my regular everyday life. There are people that know what I do, then there are those who don’t need to know. But why should we divide the lines? That’s what I keep asking myself. I’m a single guy, I’m not unattractive, I like to have a good time, and I can be plenty of fun to be around. When I meet women I’m interested in pursuing, the first thing I tell her isn’t that I play competitive Magic: The Gathering. It’s not even the second, third, or even tenth thing I tell her. Why? It’s unnecessary, there’s a lot more to defining a person rather than a hobby. I have a handful of friends that just don’t care and tell everyone they meet right away. I’m very happy for them, they’re 100% comfortable in their own skin, that’s something to envy. But usually, these people are in committed relationships.
It’s a bit different for the single person’s game, women aren’t typically attracted to the cardboard slinging guys (Even though they totally should be!). When I am dating a lady, I tell her about my “nerdy-er” hobbies right around the third or fourth date. I play Magic: The Gathering, I love reading “The Walking Dead”, I play fantasy sports (Probably the most average thing in this list), and I’m insanely good at Super Smash Brothers Brawl. But there are other things they should know about me before hand, women can be less receptive to learning these things right away when you lead off with “Magic player”. There’s certainly different situations where talking about your hobbies is appropriate and times when it’s not too. I have two friends (Neither one of them is actually me in this story) who were at a bar, Friend A meets two ladies and is chatting them up, meanwhile Friend B is getting drinks. Upon Friend B’s return the ladies asked them how they knew each other, Friend B then said, “Oh! Through Magic cards”. The girls chuckled and then left a few minutes later.
Is friend B in the wrong here? I mean that person was just telling the truth. Should Friend B perhaps been a little more creative with their response? What if Friend A wasn’t completely comfortable with exposing the fact that he was a bit on the nerdy side? These questions are up to you to answer.
You should tell people or even potential lady friends sooner rather than later about your complete list of hobbies and make sure that they’re comfortable with it. I had a girlfriend in college that couldn’t handle the fact that I played competitive Magic. Her parents and friends made jokes about it to her to the point it upset her. It didn’t bother me at all, but it does matter to other people. It was eventually part of the reason things didn’t work out.
When it comes to social media, I find it a bit difficult. Anyone can Google my name and find out what I do in my free time, the first hit is my Graphic Design website, everything else? Nerd stuff. But my Facebook page is for the other part of my life, some Magic players have a tough time grasping that. They like to share deck lists and ideas on each other’s walls, which is fine, but it’s not for everyone. Magic isn’t my sole interest and certainly isn’t my entire life. As much as Facebook is for friends, it’s also a partial dating site. Magic players often are offended when I delete their posts on my wall, but I warn people when I add them to not write those things on my wall. I choose to keep my nerdy hobbies hidden there. It’s not too often that I post about Magic. But when I do, it’s in a private group that only Magic players can see. A majority of the time, I’m talking about television shows, music, friends, events, or sports – you know, that other part of my life? Magic players have a tough time respecting people’s boundaries when it comes to social media, I’m not talking about anyone’s specific wall or page, but be courteous of other people’s wishes. If you don’t see Magic related things on their page, consider asking them to make sure it’s alright, or you can even just message them. There’s also employers that look at social media as a way to gain potential information on candidates.
I had a former employer that thought it was incredibly funny when he found out through a Google search and made Wizard and Dragon jokes at me all the time. Some people are assholes. But then again, I’ve told other co-workers and employers of my hobbies and they couldn’t be more supportive! There are some good people out there. Where I currently work, they’ve even given me extra paid days off for longer trips. It’s all about finding the right people to share things with.
One thing I can say, it’s a great feeling to be honest and get it off your chest. Even though, it really shouldn’t be such a big of a deal. I didn’t tell a single person at the college I attended my Freshman year, when I transferred I made sure I was going to lay it out there. It made me a lot more comfortable around my friends, I didn’t tell complete strangers, but people that should probably know. It was very refreshing. If you’re on that third date and her reaction isn’t exactly welcoming, chances were that she wasn’t the one anyway. People who ridicule people for their hobbies probably weren’t the greatest candidates for friendship or anything else in the long run. Something that’s happened to me over time is the ability to just not care as much, when I was younger, hiding the fact that I played Magic was such a big deal. Hopefully one of these days, I can be in one of those carefree couples where I can blatantly tell people. Although, for the moment I’m not there.
I guess the message I was trying to get across is that some people have “Nerd Shame”, be respectful of it. If that person doesn’t want you to expose them, just don’t. I’ve given my best advice on sharing your magical hobby with ladies, all based on past experiences, but then again…who’s the single guy?
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next! Until then, keep storming!
Bryant Cook on MTG the Source