The article, “Celebrating Nerdiness” by Tom Rogers aims to improve and correct the society’s misconception of a nerd, by providing the readers with reasons to respect and accept nerds, as well as to influence nerds to be proud of themselves instead of feeling ashamed as a result of rejection from the society. From the start of his article, Rogers clearly identifies himself as a nerd, and uses first person and simple terms to communicate with the readers. From the style of language he has chosen, his readers are able to understand and relate to him. Hence, effectively communicating and engaging with his readers.
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In this article, Rogers claims that he and both his sons are nerds, and gives examples from their past experiences to show how they were ostracized and tormented as teenagers because they were labeled as nerds. Yet, they grew up to become successful men. Before analyzing the article in detail, Rogers seems to suggest that nerds should be looked up to instead of being looked at with contempt, as experienced by him and his sons. Through the examples that Rogers mentioned, it is evident that he feels that him and his sons are “extraordinary” nerds, whereby they are equipped with social and physical skills, which defies the stereotypical impressions of a nerd perceived by the society.
However, after examining the article in greater detail, there are several substantial weaknesses in Rogers’s points. While he tries to convince his readers that being a nerd is “wonderful”, he supports this by presenting him and his sons as remarkable individuals possessing qualities not typically associated with nerds in the eyes of the society. Hence, in contrary to his argument that nerds are “wonderful”, he creates the impression that he and his sons are not typical nerds, or in fact, not nerds, making his argument unsubstantiated.
In this article, the writer is inconsistent in his argument. However, Rogers have mentioned some pertinent points. From the beginning of the article, he claims that he and both his sons are nerd, as seen from his statement “I’m a nerd”. Also, his main purpose of the article is to glorify nerds and to convey the message that “being a nerd was not just OK but something wonderful.” In order to support this, he raises some valid evidences, stating that “virtually every modern blessing from democracy to electric motors originated with a nerd” and that Newton and Einstein, who were arrogant and absent-minded, are now considered geniuses. With these evidences, it is apparent that nerds have indeed been sold short. Despite their contributions to the society in so many different ways, we often forget the improvements they have brought about with their intelligence and eagerness to advance the society. Hence, not only did Rogers effectively support his claim that being a nerd is wonderful, but he also manages to voice the injustice faced by nerds, who are constantly undervalued.
Nonetheless, rest of the article is incoherent with his main point of being a nerd is wonderful. It is clear from Rogers’s examples that both his sons did not have a convivial childhood or teenage years, due to the fact that they were nerds. His elder son “endured hell at the hands of bullies”, while his younger son’s teacher “publicly told him he would never graduate from high school”. Evidently, his sons were not given respect from peers or teachers, and suffered through middle school. All of which are despite of their capabilities. Therefore, this opposes the main message Rogers tries to convey, as the readers are unable to comprehend the awe of being a nerd. Instead, Rogers has highlighted the negatives of being a nerd for his readers, contradicting his own argument.
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In this article, Rogers seems to categorize nerds into two groups: typical nerds perceived by the society, “friendless, book-smart sissies who suck up to authority figures”, and the exceptional nerds who are able to perform well in various areas, like his sons and himself. He groups his sons and himself under the “exceptional” category of nerds, as they possess qualities that exceed typical nerds. This implies his desire to stand out from the stereotypical impression of nerds, while claiming to be proud to be a nerd. Evidences in the article suggest that he is proud to be a nerd, like “I’m a nerd” and “being a nerd was not just OK but something wonderful”. Yet, parts of the article also seem to suggest that he did not want to be identified as a nerd, and wanted to fit in with the majority of the society. For instance, “I mostly survived by learning to keep quiet in the class” could imply that he did not want to be singled out from the class as a nerd. Thus, as a reader, I would question his claims on being proud to be a nerd, as he appears to want to fit in with the rest of the society. In addition, from “And these days no one would mistake him for a sissy”, it shows that Rogers still seeks approval from the society, again, showing his desires to fit in or be accepted by the society while being part of the minority of the nerds.
Rogers also provides evidences to show that he and his supposedly nerd sons are not typical nerds or, may not even be nerds. As a youth, he grew up being labeled as a nerd. However, perhaps like any other teenager, Rogers saw the need to be a unique individual, whereby he defines himself as a nerd, but not a typical one. There was an instance where a group of “Russian policemen threw his elder son a party after he accepted their invitation to take a mid-December dip in a spring filled with near-freezing water”, yet he was described as “just too small” and “pale and unathletic” when he was in middle-school. His younger son, who was misunderstood by his high school teacher, is now able to deliver a “10 minutes of stand-up comedy”. Both sons showed drastic changes physically and socially. However, Rogers claims that both his sons “remained devoted to nerds”. With these transformations, they no longer fit the stereotypical image of nerds, who are “friendless” and “book-smart sissies”. Hence, is Rogers justified to still label his sons as nerds, when they no longer possess the qualities that define nerds in the eyes of the society, or are they simply not the typical nerds? Therefore, this brings us to the desire for authenticity versus a need to maintain a stereotype image. While Rogers and his sons strives to be extraordinary nerds who possess social and physical skills, they may no longer fit into the stereotypical image of a nerd, that is, the society’s impression of a nerd.
In conclusion, when Rogers’s points of arguments suggest that the writer himself is no longer a nerd in the eyes of the society, is he still in the position to “celebrate nerdiness”? Also, from the essay, the reasons raised to “celebrate nerdiness” actually make a nerd less of a nerd. Hence, is there really a “celebration” when it comes to a nerd? It is evident that the writer’s argument is very weak, since he is unable to make a compelling argument and convince the audience his point of view, especially when most of the points mentioned are opposing his main message of being a nerd is something “wonderful”.
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