being a nerd is not about what you love; it’s about how you love it.

My weekend at Calgary Expo was just amazing. I didn’t think it could possibly get better than last year, when I got to spend a lot of time with my family from TNG for the first time in decades, but I was wrong. This was one of the most amazing weekends I have ever had at a convention, ever.

I’m still processing things like getting to meet Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey, finding out that they’re lovely people, and then being invited by them — twice — to join them for drinks. I’m still working out the reality that I kind of know Nathan Fillion, and when we see each other, we do things like this.

On Saturday, someone asked me during my panel to sum up my life in five words. I thought about it for a minute and replied: “I hope I never wake up.” (I hyphenated wake-up, even though it’s not technically correct. Don’t tell Andrew.)

So also during my panel, I was asked by a young woman to explain to her newborn daughter, Violet, why it was awesome to be a nerd. As it turns out, I’ve been having that conversation with my sons for their entire lives, so I spoke from the heart and told her.

I’m very lucky in that every now and then, I get to say something and people will listen to me. It’s an incredible gift from the great elder gods that I treasure, and respect, so I do my best to honour it when I get to use it. This video went pseudoviral yesterday while I was traveling home, so I suppose you could say that I got to be Dad of the Internet for a little bit, which is kind of neat.

This morning, reader LN sent me a link to this image, because it has Wesley Crusher holding his Sparks McGee hat. That alone would delight me, but the fact that the image goes so well with my talk on Saturday supports my belief that there really are no coincidences in this version of the timeline.

You'll Be Safe Here, by *dryponder at DevianART
You’ll Be Safe Here, by *dryponder at DevianART

I always tell people that conventions are so wonderful, because you’ll be surrounded by people who love the same things you love, the way you love them. But that’s not entirely correct. You’re also surrounded by people who love things you don’t even know about, but you love your respective things in the same way, so you get to love your thing enthusiastically, completely, unironically, without fear of judgement.

In other words, you’ll be safe there, and I’m so grateful that I get to be part of that.

73 thoughts on “being a nerd is not about what you love; it’s about how you love it.”

  1. Wil, we couldn’t get into your panel but we watched it on Flipon TV the next day. Your words brought tears to my eyes, your honesty and candor was awesome! I know baby Violet will treasure that message forever and hopefully with any luck – she’ll be a nerd! Thank you for coming to Calgary and speaking so positively about Calgary! Hope to see you again and again for years to come!

  2. Saw the video today for the first time from Ann’s Twitter post – tweet – feed – thing… Loved it and shared it with friends on Facebook and G+. Definitely going to show it to my two sons (11 and 7) when I get home tonight. It concisely and eloquently says all those things I’ve tried to tell them for a while.

    Thanks for sharing your “Dad thoughts” with the rest of us.

  3. I saw this early, apparently, but was please to see it go crazy later in the day. It deserves it.

    I’m so glad you had a great con, Wil, and thanks for putting words to that feeling so many struggle to define. Bottom line? We get it. *salute*

  4. Thanks for saying it and thanks for sharing it! It will be on permanent loop in my house for my daughters as they walk out of the front to door to go to school or to go out to play with friends.

    Thanks again, sir.

  5. PS: in embiggening that picture, I so love that! From tiny Lion-O in the back to big Batman in the front and my favorite ninja turtle taking a starring role with some Sparks thrown in, too, it’s just FANtastic! Well done, artist! Well done!

  6. Just shared this with my 2yo son (who we affectionately refere to as “The Future King of the Geeks”). It seriously brought tears to my eyes when he said “We’re nerds too Mommy! I like that” after watching the clip. You better believe he’ll be watching it through out the rest of his childhood to ingrain that fact

  7. You were a highlight for me twice at the Expo. This “speech” you gave was do heartfelt it was amazing and probably the absolutely off the cusp answer I have ever heard. If I was to read the words rather than listen, you would swear that you took the time to carefully chose your words. This is why I enjoy your writing and your only getting better.

    The other highlight was you taking the time to personize the Tabletop trophy I brought for our photo op. “Talking to anyone who is still reading”. Wil took the trophy that he was handing my son in the picture, wrote my sons name on the yellow tape area and autographed it. He then basically stopped the line to tell my 10 year old that normally I have to take this back after awarding it, but you are the first person to ever keep the Tabletop trophy of awesome.

    Wil your truly are a gentleman and a scholar. Thank you for making this Expo the best one yet.

  8. being a nerd is not about what you love; it’s about how you love it. – What an awesome sentiment, I love it.

    Thank you, you spoke from the heart, and it shows.

  9. I can’t fully express what it means to me that you’ve taken the time to share my art with your other fans, Wil. Thank you so much, and I couldn’t agree with you more about the pure joy being a nerd brings to one’s life. I think I tweeted something similar to you on your birthday once, but it is just excellent to have had Wesley to inspire me when I was growing up and the real you continuing to do so as an adult. I tip my 24th century cowboy hat to you, sir.

  10. I loved your answer about how awesome it is to be a nerd.. And btw.. nice scarf 😉 I just watched Eureka from start to finish recently on Netflix and loved your character Dr. Isaac Parish. That must of been a fun role to play.. Keep up the good work and look forward to seeing you in more roles soon!

  11. Wil,

    I doubt you remember me (, but I was the one that pointed out that you were a dick last year at the Phoenix comic-con. Rather than admit it and apologize, you listened to lemmings tell you that I was dick for pointing out that you were a dick in Phoenix. If that is the sign of a dick–aren’t you a dick for having the “don’t be dick” rule?

    Regardless, I see you are coming back to Phoenix this year (despite the fact that you implied you weren’t going to). Hopefully, this year you will leave the self-entitled, self-righteous attitude (and entourage) in Burbank, where it belongs. Honestly, I would love to see you this year as I first thought you were, a nice guy. But, seeing that you changed the name of “Story Time” to “Awesome Hour,” I don’t have high hopes. Not that I had high hopes, because apparently others have seen the same dickish behavior from you: (be sure to read the comments)

    Sadly, based on my own personal experiences last year and the foregoing other examples, it has become clear why Hollywood keeps asking you to play a dick (e.g., Big Bang Theory and Eureka).

    Seriously, come have fun in Phoenix this year — just don’t be a dick, like last year. Please change my second impression of you.



  12. By the by: I’d bet my bottom dollar that Peter and Lena are telling all their friends “We met Wil Wheaton, and he’s a lovely person. Not only that, but we invited him to join us for drinks… and he said yes! TWICE!!”

  13. It was such an amazing experience to sit in your panel saturday. It was my first con, and my first panel. I brought my gf with me and she didn’t really know what to expect having only see a couple youtube clips of table top (mostly munkins one trying to get pointers to beat me) and from seeing you on big bang theory etc. When you came running out with the horses head on.. was perfection. You were so honest and gracious, it was an amazing panel. And the way you answered the last question … wow. Someone who didn’t know better would swear it was rehearsed. Half of the crowd were brought to tears by your answer, I turned to my gf and said “Now do you see why I think he is so amazing?”

    And then sunday… wow doesn’t even come close. You signed both a picture as well as my copy of your book … and you actually remembered me from an email I sent a year ago. And you were so happy for me that I persevered and had it edited and published. You were gracious enough to accept a copy which I thought was awesome… but then you asked me to sign it. ME! A nobody from the great white north, signed his book for Wil Wheaton. Just amazing. That’s why you are, and always will be, The King of the Geeks.

    Hope to see you next year!!

  14. The video, and that awesome image from dryponder, really helps the ‘fan’ community feel accepted.

    I don’t do conventions, but I certainly look in from the outside.

    Keep it real!

  15. Awesome speech *CLAPS* You gained several levels of respect from me. You were a silly nerdy little boy when I first got to know you from STTNG and every time I see your name I hear Stewie from Family Guy saying it! Wish more people were nerds or let on that they are…it’s very lonely in my area.

    I need to watch more of your board game play videos! And you gained a new follower!

  16. Wil – Thank you for this. It gave me chills yesterday morning when I saw it in the comments of your last blog post. It meant so much. I re-posted to FB both my own page as well as the Gathering of Friends page. G of F is for gamers. It occurred two weeks ago and we’re all still coming down from the experience. I posted it because you described how we all feel. We love gaming passionately. And what Alan has created at G of F is a safe place for us all to share the thing we love – board games. That is why that it is revered and looked forward to. It’s so secure to gather with other people who understand the passion that you share. Call us nerds, geeks, weird. It doesn’t matter. Thanks for putting a voice to how we all feel. Bravo!

    PS I look forward to meeting you in person someday. It will happen. It will be a simple meeting around a board game where we can discuss our love of games and the things we’re both doing in the industry to make the world a better place. I look forward to it!

  17. It was a pleasure and a privilege to see you again in Calgary this year! Thank you for signing my photo from 2012. I really enjoyed your panel, and can’t wait to hear more about your Savage Worlds campaign.

    I’m expecting a little girl in August, so I really loved hearing your message. I plan to play it for her, more than once, and hope I can live up to the kind of role model I want her to have.

    Finally, I hope you had a chance to try, or at least pack home with you, the beer I gave you. I got it from the Sherbrooke Liquor store in Edmonton. Here are the tasting notes from their website:

    Going Dutch [Imperial Porter; 750 ml Bottle]: De Molen is known internationally for their prolific output of high quality, award winning beers rooted in traditional methods, but with a new world mentality and adventurous spirit. Overall, we couldn’t ask for a better collaborator for our 10th Anniversary beer. An Imperial Porter, Going Dutch is an intensely flavourful blend of dark malts with notes of dark fruits, molasses and toffee with a surprisingly light body for the style. To top it off, De Molen added katjes drops (Dutch licorice candy) and aged the beer in Jenever Barrels. We are releasing it in small batches to start and will be showcasing at the upcoming Urban Craft Beer and Food Festival on April 19th! This beer is truly one of a kind and, frankly, you’d be silly if you didn’t try it for yourself. Also, it is ageable for 10 years, so I recommend buying 10 cases and cellaring them to see how well they age each year. Only available at Sherbrooke and Keg and Cork!

  18. You were awesome at the expo. Your panel made my husband tear up and was the hilight of our weekend. The speech for baby violet was so moving and put into words what so many of us feel in our hearts but aren’t able to describe. (I was the one who gave you the painted D20 and grinned at the floor like an idiot) Thanks for coming and please come back again!

  19. Thanks for coming to Cowtown, Will. It’s great to see that so many people out there have the same kind of geeky ideals. Our family has Saturday D&D and we live by the creed, A family that slays (minotaurs) together stays together!

  20. What a beautiful, beautiful speech, Wil. I’m still crying, it was so wonderful and moving. You definitely said exactly what I feel and I’m sure what we nerds all feel and let her (and reminded us) know that it was okay to love the things the way she will love them. You are really awesome!

  21. So… expo in Australia one day, yes? Please? (Kidding. Mostly.)

    But I saw that video and got immensely giddy over the message in it. I wish that was something someone had said to me, like, 20 years ago. It’s nice to see such positive messages come out (now if we could complete the circle and get rid of the ‘you can’t like that, you’re [a girl, too old, whatever]’ sort of nonsense. One day, I think!

  22. You have no idea how much this message means today. My husband, 10 yo step-daughter and 16 yo niece attended C2E2 in Chicago this past weekend. Here is what I posted on FB about my step-daughter’s experience at school on Monday: I just got done uploading our pictures from C2E2. I did it with mixed emotions, because as awesome as the weekend was, and it was awesome, some of that was taken away from Hayden today at school by “the mean girls”. You can see in the pictures that she created quite a button collection over the weekend. She wore all her pins, along with her pass and other lanyards to school today. I can just picture her pinning them on, all proud and happy. But, there are some really superficial and shallow girls in her class that took what was a source of pride for her and chose to make fun of her and call her out for flying her geek flag with pride. She came home in tears. Nothing breaks a heart more than hearing your kiddo sobbing, and nothing makes you angrier than knowing it was because of bullies who don’t understand her awesomeness. All our words about how important it is for her to be herself and to never change who she is are hard for her to take in, knowing she has to see these people at school again tomorrow. Why does the world need to be like this? Why can’t we celebrate each others’ uniqueness and be happy for people who have found their joy? The reason that Scott and I are such C2E2 evangelists is because of the tremendous feeling that we get in the convention center. Everyone is flying their freak/geek/nerd flags with pride and we are all there to celebrate that. But today Hayden was rocked back to reality, where not everyone is as kind or understanding. It breaks my heart. I want a better world for her. In the meantime, we will continue to celebrate her awesomeness. Because she is awesome, just as she is. And one day the rest of the world will all see that too.

  23. I have been a big fan for a long time. Maybe not the go to conventions and stand in lines for hours to meet you kind of fan, but a fan none the less. I truly hope you get to read these words.

    This was very moving to me. I think you are funny and you have a sense of humor that matches my own very closely. But this… this was something else. I usually don’t take the time to comment, mostly because I realize there must be pages upon pages of fans responses to go through. But this time, I had to take the chance that you might actually see mine.

    Thank you for those words. Your humility is evident and so heartwarming. I have always been called a geek and a nerd because of my love of DnD and SciFi movies and games. But, it’s only been recently that I didn’t take that as an insult. It is because of people like you, saying things like this, that made that possible. So, while this is likely the same message, less eloquently phrased, as will be flooding your inbox this evening, just know that you touched this fan.

  24. As an “access-nerd”, I’m still tickled that the original uploader added captions, on my request. It’s the little things, but lots of people miss out when videos have no captions, for instance, among other access needs that disability and related issues may bring. I know that a lot of stuff you are involved with does end up being captioned, Wil, and that’s great. And yes, this was great, all around.

  25. Thank you for coming back to Calgary. We loved having you here, both last year and this. I’m so glad you enjoyed your time here, and look forward to your return at some point in the future. Your thoughts on being a nerd spoke to my heart and made me tear up a bit. Thank you. Also, thank you for indulging me with the “zombie infection” D20 that I’d carried around for 3 years trying to get to you. Glad it rolled a high number. I think I would have walked away embarrassed if it’d rolled a crit failure. *laugh* Oh…and…Casper Van Dien. That is all.

  26. Curse you Wil Wheaton. Curse you to Hades. I’m dying here. This is a beautiful moment, what an amazing memory for this woman and her daughter. I’m going to make sure my daughter and impending Baby 2.0 watch this and take it to heart.

    PS: Yes, come to Australia!

  27. ‘Be honorable. Be kind. Pass it on.’ I love this video and post and that your worthy message went viral. I so appreciate how you use your success to promote positivity! (…and thanks for being mindful of the relevance of gender here, too).
    – Sarah

  28. Wil – I was so thrilled that both my kids (13 and 10) were there to hear your panel, especially your speech to baby Violet. This truly was one of the highlights of my weekend. Thank-you for coming to Calgary. Hopefully someone told you about the Edmonton Expo in September? :)

  29. Thank you SO much for this past weekend in Calgary. Our whole weekend seemed to be about you! Photo op on Friday, that wonderful panel that I’m SO honored to be a part of (The Nerd Manifesto as my husband called it!) and finally, getting to meet you and talk to you on Sunday.

    The last line of your post sums it up perfectly for me – “You’ll be safe there”. There’s something so freeing and wonderful about CalgaryExpo. 3 whole days to just be yourself with no judgments. Just a great bunch of people doing their thing and loving their stuff.

    Cheers and fist bumps my friend :)

  30. Your panel was a serious highlight for me, especially that last bit. Calgary is such a great con – I feel completely at home whenever I’m there.

  31. At the end of your panel, the entire room jumped to their feet and gave you a well deserved standing ovation… as I clapped ridiculously like a seal I looked through my teary eyes to see MANY others wipe away tears as well. It was an unforgettable moment and I still get teary when I watch it for the 10th…11th… 20th time. I am thankful the world has now been given this video as a gift from the King of the Nerds. How are you going to top it next year?

  32. I really regret not going now. I dithered, and hummed and hawed about going.
    I really wanted to bring in a board game for you to sign, but waited until all the tix were sold out.

    I’ll have to find you at another con in the future, I guess.

  33. So I was reading this at work and actually started tearing up – especially for this line:
    I always tell people that conventions are so wonderful, because you’ll be surrounded by people who love the same things you love, the way you love them. But that’s not entirely correct. You’re also surrounded by people who love things you don’t even know about, but you love your respective things in the same way, so you get to love your thing enthusiastically, completely, unironically, without fear of judgement.

    A lot of us grew up being mocked for what we loved and the items we “fangirled” over. The convention is actually what you said, being a place where we don’t get judged, mocked, teased, etc. for the things we like and the power they have over us. We don’t get asked “What’s that?” You never feel alone.

    I love it.

  34. Loved being able to talk to you about D&D and that you signed my phb. You are such a nice man that spends time with each fan. I have watched the video and what a beautiful one it was. I think my allergies were acting up as I started tearing up.
    Please come again to Calgary.

  35. I was telling a friend about this today, and of course couldn’t do it justice, so I said I’d send her the link. I love that all I had to type into Google to find this was “wil wheaton nerd”.

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