UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | May 20, 2024

Nerdy is normal in Utah

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Utah could be the first state where people talk more nerdy than dirty.

According to recent study on Estately Blog, Utah came in No. 1 as the state with the most nerds per capita.

The stereotypical definition of a nerd is someone who is overly smart, partially gangly and whose obscure pastimes include non-mainstream activities heavily influenced by fiction or fantasy. 

This definition may seem to fit perfectly, even like pens in a pocket protector, but it’s too specific and dated. In my mind, all nerds are created differently. For example, it’s entirely possible to be a nerd without being smart, just take a look at my GPA. But how identifiable is the term nerd?

“People don’t think of themselves as nerds,” said Desiree Chavez, a sophomore art major from St. George and president of the Sci-fi Fantasy Club.  “Some students say they really like Marvel, DC and video games, but don’t want to call themselves a nerd.  Why?”  

Chavez then explained that the main reason people don’t identify as nerds is because the label is distorted.  

“[Society] misunderstands nerds as the weirdos at the back of the classroom,” Chavez said. “But nerds have passion, they like what they like: pop culture, TV shows, video games, board games, card games, etcetera.  People stereotype nerds [but] they need to do more research. They can come to the club and see that everyone is different.”

Chavez encourages all students interested in pop culture to come to the Sci-fi Fantasy Club. The club meets on Wednesdays at 4 p.m. in the Gardner Center Conference Room D.

Trust me: Nerd-image has leveled-up.  

Today, nerds are seen as a hip social group whose interests are becoming more mainstream every day.  But the question remains: Why is Utah nerd haven compared to nerd hell (the southern states, according to the survey)?

Collin Woods, a junior English major from Scottsdale, Arizona, who also plays on the Dixie State University basketball team, said he noticed an increase in nerdiness when he moved to Utah.

“There are a lot of people around campus who like some ‘nerdy’ things but aren’t really vocal about it,” Wood said in an email. “I myself embrace it because it’s who I am.”

Woods also explained that Utah seems less judgmental when it comes to nerdy pastimes. 

“People who are vocal about their nerdiness have just accepted the fact of who they are and what they like,” Woods said. “Personally, I do feel more comfortable being a nerd at Dixie State, but that doesn’t deter me from being myself back home. I’ve accepted the nerdy things I like and people really can’t knock me for [that].” 

For this change in society, kudos goes to popular shows like “The Big Bang Theory” and entities like Marvel Entertainment — Stan Lee, the famous comic book writer, is basically Moses to nerds — for making more superheroes household names. 

To conclude, will this recognition change anything in Utah? Probably not.

In Utah, nerds are usual and practically invisible. That guy in Sociology 1010 who dresses like Buddy Holly isn’t abnormal anymore. At stores, nobody wonders why geek-chic fashion lines the racks.  Nerd culture is popular culture and I say keep the fashion coming.

Despite the recognition, perhaps Utah has been sanctuary for nerds longer than anyone has catalogued, a state described in the film “Revenge of the Nerds” as a place where “nerd persecution ends.”