Less than 20 years ago, the term “nerd” was typically used in a derogatory manner, conjuring images of loners with acne playing on computers in their parents’ basements. But as nerd culture has entered the mainstream, the definition of “nerd” and “geek” have evolved dramatically. Both can now refer to someone who is passionate about technology or particular subcultures, from Star Wars to anime, gaming, LARPing, and beyond.
With the rise of nerd culture comes an opportunity for proud geeks to make a difference in the world. Nerd culture is, by definition, accepting of the individual, without prejudices that are based on race, class, sexual orientation, or other demographics. Anyone can be a hardcore fan or self-identify as a nerd or geek.
In fact, nerds may just be the original social justice warriors, fighting the status quo by fostering a culture of inclusivity and acceptance. Nerd culture may also have a positive impact on the environment, and the “cosplay is not consent” campaign has brought widespread attention to the topic of sexual harassment. Let’s take a look at various social issues that are being addressed thanks to nerd culture.
Recycling, Waste, and the Environment
Many celebrities use their status and wealth to promote social issues, from human trafficking to conserving the environment. Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen Degeneres are especially giving when it comes to environmental issues. The formereven founded the eponymous Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which supports various environmental causes, including wildlife conservation.
If celebrities can use their fame to help address and curb environmental issues, why can’t nerds? In fact, nerd culture has already made an impact on waste reduction. Film and TV production is a wasteful industry with a large carbon footprint. According to Columbia University, a movie with a budget of $50 million produces about 4,000 metric tons of CO2. Further, many props, costumes, and sets are diverted to landfills once production wraps.
That’s where nerds come in. At various conventions, including San Diego Comic Con, movie props and costumes have become a cottage industry, with nerdy fans willing to pay top dollar for authentic items from their favorite fandoms. These coveted items, therefore, are kept out of landfills and may help bring light to the issue of waste reduction.
Conventions themselves have also become a hotbed of environmental awareness, especially in San Diego. The city’s annual convention is the largest in America, taking place at the San Diego Convention Center. The venue is a pillar of sustainability, using 100% LED lights for energy efficiency. During the 2018 event, the venue recycled 50 tons of cardboard and supported fair trade practices among its food and souvenir offerings. Fair trade business principles promote economic stability, human rights, and the independence of disadvantaged producers.
Along with environmental issues, nerd culture is also a champion of inclusivity, but we still have a long way to go. For example, mainstream superhero movies are now a cornerstone of nerd culture, but the majority of the films in the immensely popular modern Marvel Cinematic Universe feature primarily white cis males. And that’s problematic, especially considering the diversity of comic book superheroes.
When the X-Men were first introduced, their various mutations and the community they found in each other helped bring hope to the oppressed and those who didn’t fit into mainstream culture. Yet that message of acceptance has not been fully realized in mainstream society. It seems that every time someone who does not fit the white, cis, straight paradigm is cast in a superhero film, there’s immediate backlash.
Misogyny and Sexual Harassment
Nerd culture takes the issue of inclusivity a step further by promoting equality and fighting against sexual harassment and sexism. That’s not to say that these issues don’t exist within nerd culture: In fact, Claire Del Sorbo of Fordham University declared in 2016 that “nerd culture absolutely does have a problem with sexism.” Del Sorbo used the death threats sent to gamers Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn, and Brianna Wu by male gamers in 2014 as a glaring example of sexism within gaming culture.
Sexism can also be seen at conventions and similar gatherings, but the “cosplay is not consent” movement is working to help end the problem. First introduced at New York Comic Con in 2014, the campaign erected signs that reminded attendees that touching or taking pictures of cosplayers without their consent would not be tolerated.
The concept of consent itself is of paramount importance within nerd culture and society in general. With STD rates on the rise in the U.S., nerd culture must be willing to help foster a culture of safe and consensual sex, with honest communication and education as a priority. The fact is that hookups and consensual sex are a big part of nerd culture, especially at cons. Thus, promoting awareness of safe sex and the need for periodic STD screenings within the nerd culture is of paramount importance.
Nerds Can Change the World
By continuously addressing social issues like waste reduction, sexism, and consent, nerd culture can make a real difference. It’s time for nerds to merge their interests and passions with activism and awareness to help make the world a better place.
Back in 2014, the Gamergate scandal made headlines. At the time, internet trolls launched a series of harassment campaigns targeting females involved in gaming. As stated in an article in Marie Claire, the harassment included “doxxing, hacking, and warnings of death and sexual violence on social media and IRL.”
Instances like these raise a question that remains relevant today: Why is the prospect of women in the gaming industry so controversial? Let’s take a look:
There are a lot of stereotypes surrounding gamers and video game culture. Some of them have some merit, while others are probably a little far fetched. Gamers can be referred to as lazy, “nerdy,” or even obsessed with the video games they play on a regular basis.
But, could video games really contribute to the downfall of a marriage? What is it about seemingly harmless video games that could ruin a relationship? Let’s take a closer look.
Who Is at a Greater Risk for Divorce?
It’s hard to pinpoint why certain groups of people seem to get divorced more than others. One study by the U.S. Census Bureau suggests that money often has a lot to do with it. Couples with higher-paying professions tend to stay together. People with lower-paying jobs or those who are unemployed are at a greater risk of splitting up. This is reflective of the toll that financial strain can have on a marriage.
While it’s not necessarily fair to associate gamers with people who don’t have high-paying jobs, a spouse might see someone who plays games all the time as “lazy” or not willing to go out and get a better job, which can boost that risk factor. Gaming can also be an expensive hobby, no matter the gaming system of choice.
Money isn’t the only problem, though. Gamers face a couple more complex issues when it comes to their beloved hobby and their relationships.
Video games often take a lot of time and attention, and video game addiction is one of the most common addictive behaviors. Getting addicted to gaming is easy, and that can cause the person involved to isolate themselves and feel anxious when they’re not playing. For a married gamer who could be spending more time on their spouse or might not be enjoying that quality time as much as they could, that can create a lot of turmoil. A study from Brigham Young University found that most spouses who are married to gamers wish they would put as much effort and energy into their marriages.
Video games can also cause other problems, including physical ailments and conditions. The hobby is often criticized for contributing to the 36% of obese adults in the country. Because video games are especially popular with kids and young adults, they are similarly seen as a contributing factor towards the 12.5 million children considered obese in the U.S. When someone is glued to a screen for hours at a time, especially if they’re addicted, they likely aren’t getting the exercise and physical activity they need. An addiction to video games absolutely puts you at a higher risk of divorce if you’re ignoring your marriage and not taking care of your physical and emotional health the way you should.
Are There Any Positives to Playing Video Games?
There are plenty of “pros” to being a gamer — if you do it the right way. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean talking to your friends on Fortnite until two in the morning every night. If you love the world of gaming and don’t want to give it up, find different ways to make it more productive for you and your marriage.
When it comes to “getting physical,” not all video games require sitting on the couch with a bowl of your favorite salty snack. Some games, like Just Dance or Kinect Sports, are designed to get you up and moving while you game. It’s a great way to stay active, especially if you find other physical activities time-consuming and un-motivational. Video games can do more than get your body in shape, too. Educational video games are being used to help students with visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles. They’re designed to boost critical thinking and problem-solving skills, while helping kids to learn more about how to make decisions. They even help kids learn what it’s like to lose.
Finally, the video game industry is actually doing some good for the world at large. Most recently, a game called “Change: A Homeless Survival Experience” has taken on the popular genre of role-playing games to show what it’s like to be living on the streets. This gives gamers a real window into the harshness of homelessness. Other gaming companies have given back to charities that help the homeless population. The industry itself is so much more than the image of a lazy teenager on his parents’ couch, playing games for hours on end. It’s important to start realizing that, so the stigma many people have about gamers begins to change.
How to Lower Your Risk of Divorce As a Gamer
If you’re an avid gamer, you don’t have to give up your passion to keep your marriage alive. There are a just few things to keep in mind to balance your relationship with your gaming habit. Do you spend more time gaming than you do with your spouse? Does it change the way you actually treat your spouse? If so, it’s time to make a change.
The changes you make don’t have to be extreme or overwhelming. Set a timer for yourself when you start to play, and stop playing when it goes off. Maybe use that extra time afterward to go on a date with your spouse. You can also invite your spouse to play along with you. Even if they’re not a gamer, chances are they’ll appreciate the fact that you want to let them in on that important part of your life.
However, the most important thing you can do is to make sure you’re living in the real world, and not a virtual one. If you’re not spending as much time and effort on your marriage as you do on your games, you could be putting your relationship at risk.
The face of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is changing, and many fans believe those changes are for the better. In recent years, we’ve seen more diversity with on-screen superheroes than ever before. That trend will continue well into the future, at least according to Marvel Studios’ president Kevin Feige.
Feige, who is credited as the groundbreaking Black Panther‘s producer, recently told The Wrap that diversity and representation are the future of the MCU: “This is the way the world is, and the way, certainly, our studio’s going to be run going forward, because it brings about better stories,” the director said. “The more diverse the group of people making the movie is, the better the stories.”
One only has to watch the final minutes of Avengers: Endgame (spoilers ahead!) to see just how committed the studio is to creating a more diverse MCU. In a poignant scene after living a full life in the past, an elderly Captain America hands his shield over to Anthony Mackie’s Falcon. The scene indicates that forthcoming Captain America films will, like Black Panther, have a strong African-American superhero at the helm. With the power superhero films have right now, a more inclusive MCU could help break down social barriers in our increasingly diverse world.
Video games have been popular for decades. In fact, 60% of people in the United States play video games every day. It’s an industry that has adapted with technology over the years to maintain its popularity. But, most people don’t often associate video games with social issues or making a positive difference in the world.
In fact, there is often a lot of negative feedback associated with video games. People who play them frequently can be stereotyped as lazy, nerdy, and reclusive. Video games have also been in the news many times over the years when it comes to how violent some of them can be.
But, video games can absolutely be used for good, and some gaming producers have started to incorporate social issues into their work. One of those prominent social issues is homelessness. The question must be asked, though: can a video game really combat this problem in the country? (more…)
For a little over a decade, Marvel has been making regular headlines as the famous comic book-based film series takes on a modern reflection of superheros. Including a large number of A list actors, the films have served a strong role in representing pop culture. However, holding the position as one of the biggest box office hits in the world, many believe Marvel should be using their platform to acknowledge and represent the diverse world we are living in.
Avengers: Endgame is the second highest grossing film in the world, starring almost every superhero we have come to know and love over the last few years. However, with such a large number of superheros, you might expect some representation of the minorities the movie is targeting. While Black Pantherwas the first Avenger film to feature a person of color as the superhero lead, the film series has yet to properly acknowledge other minorities, including the LGBTQ community. (more…)