I was all set to begin this article with a story about Mike and Ikes. It was guaranteed to resonate!
But then some joyless chucklehead in our Nerds on Earth Discord piped up to say “um, actually,” touching off an hour-long debate over the differences between candies and why Mike and Ikes were inferior.
Along the way, another joyless chucklehead suggested and that I shouldn’t even like candy due to the evils of sugar on health and waistline, which utterly sapped my enthusiasm for my story. Another good article lede killed by snark!
Was the discussion about candy or was it a cry for help from nerd culture in general? Regardless, the discussion had some broad elements:
- Some nerds claim that issues are mainly ones of depth. Disregard the over-arching thesis of a piece, they say, because the salient issue is always best discussed by finding obscure, well-off-of-center factoids that are are then examined ad nauseam. The devil is in the details these nerds seem to believe, and darned if that doesn’t make for a devilishly exhausting discussion most of the time.
- We also have some context-is-everything, empirical-evidence-is-constructed-in-the-mind, objective-reality-is-a-myth postmodernists around Nerds on Earth. According to this crazy worldview, the same thing could be anything.
- Others took a communal tack in the discussion. “Love what you love,” they say. “All games are equal if they are shared with friends,” they gush.
- Most just rolled their eyes and grabbed a box of Mike and Ikes themselves.
By the time we’d wasted a big chunk of our day arguing all this out in Discord — with no party convincing another, I might add — I was completely done thinking about it, and had no residual energy to make dumb jokes and play dumb games. My joy and enthusiasm was sapped, plain and simple.
Nerd Culture: Logic or Desire?
I’m sure you’ve picked up by now that this isn’t really about Mike and Ikes. Substitute Star Wars or the MCU or what have you. But let me tell you the rest of the story anyway…
I had a really healthy lunch, that was then followed by half a box of Mike and Ikes for a snack. How healthy? Well, my lunch consisted of a protein bar that is so pure I think it was hand-crafted by sherpas with ancient essential proteins and unicorn hair as the only ingredients.
Why then would I follow something so healthy with sugary garbage like Mike and Ikes? Because humans make contradictory decisions all the time. It’s a distinct part of what makes us human.
Us nerds pretend like logic matters. We push our glasses up on our noses and say, “Um, logic dictates that the features of this game are superior.” They might as well say, “Pudding is delicious,” as that typically matters about as much to the discussion.
Why? The reality is humans are emotional creatures. The picture we see of ourselves is of a national rhetoric champion, whereas the reality is we’re all a bunch of play-doh wrapped in nostalgia, the biggest dose of emotional catnip of it all. We like what we like, logic be darned.
That’s why I had a healthy lunch, then followed that with Mike and Ikes. Us humans do contradictory things all the time. And if you think you are the measure of consistency, then, well, OK.
That’s why I read 90% of my comics via Marvel Unlimited, Marvel’s digital platform. But by far my preference is paper. And with a gun to my head, I’d ditch all the digital comics in the world for the chance to read the same paper comic over and over.
Why? Because paper comics make me feel something. The smell triggers something in me. How they feel in my fingers matters. I can nostalgically recall the exact moment when I bought my first comic off the spinner rack.
Is that logical? Heck no! Do digital comics offer more features than paper comics? Heck yes! And you could go over and over and over and over that logical list of reason and features and benefits and I’d still eat that box of Mike and Ikes every darned time.
Our Nerds on Earth Discord is likewise dripping with the logical benefits of indie RPGs and systems that are most accessible for middle grade kids. Well, my daughter started with d6 Hero Kids, but the smaller number dice were boring. She discovered a d20 and would’ve chosen a d1,000,000 had it been available. The only exception to the rule of larger dice is a larger dice pool, which is why a handful of d6s feels so good for a fireball.
Logical? A matter of features? Consistent? Not really. Because feelings eat logic for breakfast like a box of Mike and Ikes.
We ALL Have a Sweet Tooth
What did we learn here? First, don’t be a joyless chucklehead. When someone makes a comment, you don’t need to correct her thinking like you are the logic police. Because I’m the logic police, buck-o, and I’m saying that everyone is getting off with a warning.
Second, the only way to discussion need not be through confrontation. I swear there are some nerds who if suddenly disallowed to argue over trivial matters would deflate like a balloon. But speaking of trivial matters, would their deflation make that slow, silly squeaking sound or would it be more of a PPPBBBLUPLUPPLUPP as they fly willy-nilly around the room?
Finally, choose your candy fandom. I select Mike and Ikes. But I also dig Milk Duds. Oh, you hate those? Cool. I didn’t ask, so don’t forcibly tell me that fact. Remember, I also like health bars for lunch. Yeah, I know it doesn’t make any sense. Sort of like my (and your) feelings about Star Wars.