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Editor's Note: It's a great time to be a nerd

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014 9:40 a.m. CDT

Our home is a kingdom of nerds, and that’s just the way we like it.

Last Saturday, my children were having a fantasy battle: one was armed with Doctor Who’s sonic screwdriver, the other, with Harry Potter’s magic wand and killing spell.

Meanwhile, the adults in the room were enjoying themed snacks and a watch party for the “Doctor Who” season premiere.

Yep, nerds.

Now is probably the best time in history to be a nerd. Thanks to the Internet, no matter what your passion, you can find a community of people who share it. Nerds are no longer outcasts because of the things they love.

What does it mean to be a nerd? A nerd is someone who cares passionately about some topic, who wants to learn all they can about it and share it with others. It means getting excited when the conversation turns to your favorite subject, and it means discovering an instant bond when you meet someone else who shares your interest.

While sci-fi/fantasy and comic book nerds are the most well known, we’re not the only ones. There are theater nerds who love show tunes, film noir nerds who love gritty black-and-white movies about hard-boiled detectives and femme fatales, astronomy nerds who keep their eyes on the stars.

I think history fanatics could describe themselves as nerds, though they seem to prefer the word “buff.”

Being a nerd, or a geek, or a fanboy/fangirl, means that something beyond our everyday world has sparked your imagination and ignited your interest. It is not a slur. It is not a derogatory term. If you love some book or movie or genre or field of study, you should not have to feel embarrassed to share it.

I’m a multi-lingual sci-fi/fantasy nerd, myself. I could talk all day about the “Doctor Who” and “Lord of the Rings” universes. I’m also relatively fluent in “Star Wars,” “Star Trek,” and “Harry Potter,” though I don’t get excited about them. I can usually hold up my end of a conversation about Marvel superheroes, and, thanks to my husband, even have a passing familiarity with “Transformers.”

I have other nerdy passions: musical theater, science, ancient history. These are things I get excited about, the topics of books I like to read and the documentaries I record on my DVR.

I don’t worry about my kids, should they continue down this nerdy path, being outcasts for it. Geek culture has hit the mainstream, big time. There is a club at Sycamore High School that caters to niche interests of every kind. The DeKalb Public Library hosts a monthly group called Geektopia that explores aspects of geek culture, from magic to dystopia to steampunk.

Speaking the language of a sci-fi universe is no longer weird; it’s even kind of cool.

At the bottom of it, being a nerd should always have been cool, because it’s really about being true to yourself. You shouldn’t have to be embarrassed by the things you love.

Granted, there is a line between interest and obsession. But as long as you stay on that moderate side, go ahead and love what you love, without embarrassment or fear.

Enjoy your MidWeek.

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