These are very dangerous times, dear nerds.
Whereas the past held many dangers, traps, and trolls for us nerds to slay, we face a battle of a different kind in today’s age.
We are living in the age of peak nerd.
And it is both glorious and terrifying.
Why We are Living at Peak Nerd
So what makes this the age of peak nerd? There are some contributing factors:
The vastness of all of the previous nerdom. Everything nerdy that ever was likely exists in some form and is readily accessible by us. If something is out of print, someone has made a pdf of it or put it on YouTube.
There are great online shops like Noble Knight games that specialize in nostalgic gaming products and many comic shops have decades of back issues. I can’t remember the last time I was nostalgic for some kind of previous nerd work and couldn’t get it in some form in a matter of hours. And most of the time, I can get it legally and pay whoever made such awesomeness.
Everything comes at you fast. Right now, I have streaming subscription services to Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix and HBONow. Between those 4 services, I have probably 250 hours of things marked that I would like to watch at some point. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day and that is just movies and television.
I also have a Marvel Unlimited app subscription, so thousands of comics are at the ready. I also have an Audible.com account, with a backlog of science fiction and fantasy books, not to mention some non-fiction that I would like to check out. It is all out there and keeps coming.
Content creators have options. There are more cable television channels than ever before. More people can produce quality independent films cheaply than ever before. People are making a living posting created content on services like YouTube.
In the past, we probably lost some gifted, talented creators who couldn’t navigate the previous system. Now, someone with a cell phone, $25 bucks, and a dream can make great content AND distribute it out to people across the globe. Amazing.
Video games. More and more games are immersive experiences that take time or communities that you need to invest in long term. While Fallout 4 and Overwatch are amazing, they also can be an enormous time suck if you aren’t careful.
The Danger of Living at Peak Nerd
So, why is living at peak nerd dangerous? Because you simply can’t do everything. And you have to reconcile yourself to that.
Sure, in the past, it was easy enough to put something to the side and know that you eventually can come back to it. Nowadays, that simply isn’t the case. There are going to be things that you simply won’t be able to watch, read, etc. Much less enjoy.
You have to make choices. And some of those choices mean that you aren’t going to be able to nerd out about everything.
A few weeks ago, my coworkers and I went to a nerd trivia night. Now, not to brag but I am pretty much a trivia machine, going all the way back to my 1988 State Quiz Bowl championship. I am a fierce competitor in all things random knowledge and the two guys with me aren’t lightweights. And I have to say, it wasn’t just that I didn’t know an answer to a question, it was that I didn’t know the thing the question was referencing. When they pulled out the list of anime weapons and you had to match them to their owners, we were sunk. Anime isn’t our thing. Which isn’t to say that anime isn’t worth nerding out about. We just have made choices and gone in different directions.
We live at peak nerd. And we have to make choices. So I sidelined Mr. Robot until I could get through Game of Thrones. And in doing both of those, I realized that I will likely never be able to do a deep dive into Doctor Who. And when I read my Marvel comics, I realize that I will never really be able to go as deep into DC or, better still, smaller publishers.
Peak nerd means we have to make choices. But here is the beauty of it: there are great choices to make. You don’t have to settle for the bad science fiction of Jupiter Ascending; you can go deeper in Looper. You don’t have to read another bad Avengers comic; you can dig back into the amazing Englehardt run. You don’t have to waste time with a bad science fiction television show; you can invest in the amazing Orphan Black.
You are living in peak nerd. So do it gloriously.