transcribed: why it’s awesome to be a nerd

I just came across this post at Uproxx, where someone transcribed my words to baby Violet earlier this year. It makes me so happy that it exists in this form that I copied it to have on my blog forever.

    “My name is Wil Wheaton. It’s 2013. And you’ve just recently joined us on planet Earth. So welcome. I’m an actor. I’m a writer. And I’m a Dad. Your mother asked me to tell you why it’s awesome to be a nerd. That’s an easy thing for me to do because I am a nerd.

I don’t know what the world is going to be like by the time you understand this. I don’t what it’s going to mean to be a nerd when you are a young women. For me, when I was growing up, being a nerd meant that I liked things that were a little weird. That took a lot of effort to appreciate and understand. It meant that I loved science, and that I loved playing board games, and reading books, and really understanding what went on in the world instead of just riding the planet through space.

When I was a little boy, people really teased us about that, and made us feel like there was something wrong with us for loving those things. Now that I’m an adult, I’m kind of a professional nerd, and the world has changed a lot. I think a lot of us have realized that being a nerd … it’s not about what you love. It’s about how you love it.

So there’s going to be a thing in your life that you love, and I don’t know what it’s going to be. It might be sports, it might be science, it might be reading, it might be fashion design, it might be building things, it might be telling stories or taking pictures. It doesn’t matter what it is. The way you love that, and the way that you find other people who love it the way you do, is what makes being a nerd awesome. The way you love that, and the way that you find other people who love it the way you do is what makes you a nerd. The defining characteristic of [being a nerd] is that we love things. Some of us love Firefly and some of us love Game of Thrones, or Star Trek, or Star Wars, or anime, or games, or fantasy, or science fiction. Some of us love completely different things. But we all love those things SO much that we travel for thousands of miles … we come from all over the world, so that we can be around people who love the things the way that we love them.

That’s why being a nerd is awesome. And don’t let anyone tell you that that thing that you love is a thing that you can’t love. Don’t anyone ever tell you that you can’t love that, that’s for boys … you find the things that you love, and you love them the most that you can.

And listen: This is really important. I want you to be honest, honorable, kind. I want you to work hard. Because everything worth doing is hard. And I want you to be awesome, and I will do my very best to leave you a planet that you can still live on.

PS: don’t read the comments at uproxx, for they are full of gatekeepers and jerks who just make comments.

29 thoughts on “transcribed: why it’s awesome to be a nerd”

  1. This is quite wonderful. And wise, if I dare say so.

    The fact that I can interchange Star Trek, board games and “things” with race, sex and gender (and everything else other people might use against you) and not lose the essence of the speech, its message of self respect and optimism about life, just show me the weight of your words.

    If only I heard someone out there in the public sphere make improvised speeches such as these when I was a kid, I would perhaps have arrived earlier in the phase of my life where I can find happines.

    May your next beer be the best one ever and may you be able to share it with some one.

  2. This, right here, was the highlight of Calgary Expo 2013 for me. This made waiting in the huge lineup to get into the room then scrambling to find a decent seat so beyond worth it. If you were to take this and get it made into prints I’d buy one in a heartbeat as well as others as gifts for my fellow nerd friends. Well, so long as it didn’t break the bank. LOL

  3. “[I]t’s not about what you love. It’s about how you love it”

    The above is not just about being a nerd. It’s about being human. Or what it should mean to be human. Maybe that’s why so many humans are mean: Not everybody loves the same things they do, they way that they do.

  4. I can’t read this without tearing up. I have watch the video when I am having a bad day, it always makes me feel better.

  5. Note to self:

    Contact public works to address the ventillation dust issue in my office… I got stuff in both my eyes AGAIN!

  6. Oh thank you. I’m deaf and was so disappointed I couldn’t follow the video when it was making the rounds. Very nice, Wil, very nice. :)

  7. I also watch this video when I need a pick-me-up. I love it so much.

    I’m pretty sure we live near each other, so if a nerdy girl with red hair comes up to you, some day, and thanks you for this speech (and TNG and Stand By Me)… it’s me, and I will be very nervous.

  8. A couple of pieces have been snipped out of this transcription, and there’s one in particular that I feel really deserves to be put back in. Here it is:

    “So there’s going to be a thing in your life that you love, and I don’t know what it’s going to be. It might be sports, it might be science, it might be reading, it might be fashion design, it might be building things, it might be telling stories or taking pictures. It doesn’t matter what it is. The way you love that, and the way that you find other people who love it the way you do, is what makes being a nerd awesome.”

    When I saw the video, it really struck me how important it was that the very first example in the list of things that Violet might love in the future was sports. That a self-proclaimed ‘professional nerd’ should tell a tiny child that it’s okay to be enthusiastic about sports, even though the sterotype is that the sporty kids beat up the geeky kids, is huge. The same with fashion design. To me, this says a lot about respect and acceptance, and how it needs to be a two way street to really mean anything. It’s okay for me to love what I love, and for you to love what you love, and if you love what I love as well then that’s amazing – let’s play games some time.

    So, I hope no one minds the addition; I think this deserves to be here.

    1. Amen. I’m a geeky athlete. Or a sporty geek. I’m not sure which.

      When I was in high school, I watched TNG religiously and was in the marching band and played chess every day at lunch. I also was heavily into martial arts and softball.

      And I shared this video far and wide when I first saw it. Besides the above, the part that most resonated with me was: “Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t love that, that’s for boys. You have to love this because you’re a girl.You find the things that you love, and you love them the most that you can.”

      Because I’m a girl, and my best friend growing up was a boy, and we played Star Wars Every Single Day. And we both grew up to play football, too. :)

  9. I was also in the 2013 Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo panel talk audience when you delivered this, and one thought that passed my mind was “wow, I wish I got this speech 25-some odd years ago when I could have used an uplifter!!” I appreciate you sending this positive message out to the younger audience who may be feeling the anti-nerd peer pressure or judgement (which I experienced myself growing up), and also appreciate you setting a stage for them to live the rest of their lives without fear or shame.

  10. “Because everything worth doing is hard.” Word.

    But something being hard doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed. So if you fail in something hard, it was fun. And then you do it again. And again. And possibly once more. Until it’s done.

  11. I hate to be the guy correcting everything on the internet (okay, fine, I secretly love it, sort of) but can we at least correct the women/woman typo at the beginning of the second paragraph? I realize the message doesn’t change because of it, but the language is important. The words are important. I’ve listened to it several times and really love the sentiment, so I’d love to see it treated respectfully. =) Cheers!

  12. Never normally read blogs but something caught my eye and I read through… actually made me choke up. Really wish I could have been more nerdy growing up.. I feel like ive always been stuck in that space between normal and nerdy. Like I dont feel like I could be accepted in either group… not smart enough to know more about computers science and math to really love it like the nerds so I can fit in with that group… and always liking weird childish things and not havin anyone around to share it with and looked at as being odd that it made me an outcast from the ‘normal’ folks…. if that makes any sense.

    1. Don’t worry about being nerdy or normal or “accepted,” and just be you. Make friends with people who like the same things you like. “Nerd” is really just a label that doesn’t really mean anything anymore. It CAN have to do with liking computers, science, and/or math, but doesn’t have to.

      Lots of folks out there like “childish things.” My husband (who’s 46) has a bunch of Watchmen toys on his desk. Oh, excuse me, they’re STATUES! (Yeah. When our 4 year old tries to play with them, he announces that they’re statues… not toys. While I giggle.) My husband is a nerd. And he knows next to NOTHING about computers (and even less about math). I am a nerd, and I don’t know all of the ins & outs of comic books (the way he does), but I am fantastic with computers and consume scifi (books/movies) like it’s going out of style.

    2. Being a nerd or a geek is about accepting other people, not being accepted. You accept other people’s passions and obsessions, understanding that even though you may not love that show, comic, algebraic formula as much as they do you still understand and respect that love. You also need to accept yourself, just like Jess Finn says so you can get in touch with what you are passionate about and not feel ashamed or outcasted. (I so just made up a word…) That is what being a geek means to me.

      So, that said I accept you into the ranks of Nerddom and Geekitudes just the way you are.

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