A couple weeks ago I wanted to do another article about the rise of nerd culture in the post-2008 economy, but Steve beat me to it. I think he gets somewhat distracted in the end by focusing on music and the like, instead of the what I consider to be the more important social and economic implications, as well as why nerd culture is becoming ‘normal’ and the evidence of this shift.
In a world of partisan brainwashing by the liberal media and wishful thinking by ‘nurture centric’ leftist hacks, nerds have the ability to cut through the lies and deceptions, and then using empirical evidence they present the unvarnished truth, and it isn’t the truth that the establishment may want to hear, but it’s what society – particularity other smart people – is seeking. Millions of people are tired of being fed the same platitudinous bilge about how poverty is a social problem, or how endless schooling can fix wealth inequality, and instead are turning to nerds and wonks for alternative perspectives that are actually supported by evidence and logic rather than hope and homilies.
In a world of manufactured consent, the rise of nerd culture and, on a related note, the rise of Southern culture signifies a collective, societal celebration of authenticity. Nerd culture and Southern culture, compared to the perceived materialism and superficiality of the North, seems to exudes authenticity and ‘realness’. The Southerner with a physics degree who has a quant daytrading system, a rack stocked with guns, and holds some politically incorrect (but backed by data) views about society is someone who optimizes authenticity in the face of liberal social norms. By this standard, a nerd need not meet the well-worn stereotypes, but could be anyone who is going his own way and rejects conformity.
As an example of authenticity being more important than ever, The changing of standards of beauty reflects a cultural change in America, where the appropriation ‘black’ and other ethnic features, as well as the adoption nerd mannerisms and appearance, conveys greater authenticity and introspectiveness than being ‘plain and white’. In the aftermath of the 2008 recession and the hyper-meritocracy that followed, the stars of the blonde bimbos – Britney Spears and Paris Hilton – dimmed and we saw the rise of the smarter, more ethic Kardashinasn. Perhaps butts are perceived to be smarter than boobs.
In earlier decades – the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, especially – nerds were bullied or simply ignored. Fast forward to 2008 and beyond, from teens taking selfies on Snapchat and Instagram donning faux glasses to 30-somethings sharing on Salon, Daily Elite and Vice personal embarrassing moments of social awkwardness, we’re all becoming nerds and weirdos now. And who can blame us? Nerds are ones making all the money nowadays whether it’s in stocks, web 2.0, and expensive real estate. Nerds run the world, and their influence is inescapable, from the rise of sites like Reddit, 4chan, Vice and Daily Elite that are displacing the liberal MSM, the rise of news and policy wonks, and in pop culture such as wildly successful TV show, The Big Bang Theory, that celebrates nerd culture while poking fun at it at the same time. From a social Darwinist perspective, nerds are the most ‘fit’ for success in the post-2008 era of hyper-capitalism and biological determinism. And from drones, to coding, to quantum physics, new antibiotics, and 3-d printing, nerds are creating all the cool technologies and making all the mind-blowing discoveries that make the world a more interesting place – and, as shown below, in an era of stagnant wages and economic anxiety, they are getting well-paid for their contributions:
Between Gamergate and shirtgate, it seems like the the so-called ‘tolerant’ left is waging war against the nerds. The explanation is possibly an economic one: Since 2008 or so, nerds in STEM fields and elsewhere have received the bulk of the economic gains, and the left resents this. In what can be described as a revenge of the nerds in overdrive, in the post-2008 economy the kid who can code has better career prospects and a higher expected lifetime income than the jock who can throw the football really well, or to quote Bill Gates, “Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.” Nerds get rich because merit, individualism, and talent – all of which goes against the liberal ethos of egalitarianism, collectivism, and redistributionism.
The stereotypes about nerds – lack of social skills, repetitive behavior, only having few interests – are abound in the comments, but there is scant scientific evidence any of these are true, nor is this necessarily a bad thing if is.
Social skills are possibly overrated, especially in the results-oriented post-2008 economy, and are the refuge of the inept, lazy and corrupt. The left wishes they were more relevant, but the people making the biggest fortunes in the post-2008 economy – such as the founders of the most popular web 2.0 services, coders, traders, quants, and speculators – all demonstrate better skills at creating and analyzing than relating to other people. Employers want to maximize profits. This is done by hiring only the most qualified. It would make sense that the left prizes social skills over merit and talent because that is how they get ahead, such as through affirmative action, nepotism, unions, discrimination lawsuits, etc. Convincing jurors and judges requires good social skills. Joining a union typically requires connections and, like a tapeworm, unions suck the life out of the afflicted company via slow labor, excessive benefits and inflated wages.
Think about it: Who did congress and the fed acquiesce to in bailing out the banks in 2008? Nerds in the financial sector, of course. Despite a lack of social skills, they got what they wanted. It wasn’t just quants, fund mangers and speculators who benefited – so did the nerds in web 2.0 and the nerds who own expensive real estate, all of whom saw their net worth soar in the years following the successful, but maligned bailouts. When you cross a threshold of power you don’t have to grovel; society will beat a path to your door, and nerds are basking in their newfound, but what will prove be permanent, glory.