The subtle change in personality often comes as a surprise, despite there being warning signs all around us. Yet we ignore the clues and allow ourselves to become blindside by what we’ve become.
And what have we become? Well, cynical, entitled complainers. Sourpusses, if you will.
Us Nerds love superheroes, action figures, video and board games, and more. The things of Nerd Culture are our outlet, our hobbies, our Fortresses of Solitude, and the things and experiences that bring us smiles, laughter, and our best memories from when we were kids.
Yet when you hear us talk about them and when we discuss them on message boards and social media, an outsider would swear we hated the things of Nerd Culture. To hear us speak of it, everything is the worst ever, nothing brings us enjoyment, and whatever we get certainly isn’t enough, nor is it ever better than what we could create ourselves.
In short, we’re sourpusses. We spend time in online environments filled with unhappy people and we’ve become unhappy ourselves. We’ve gained all that Nerd Culture holds for us, yet we’ve lost our soul. So how do Nerds who live in an era of unbelievable abundance end up jaded and disillusioned?
Writer Carey Nieuwhof says, “The people around you can be depressing. But almost as disturbing as what we see around us is what we feel within us. Cynicism isn’t just something other people experience; it’s something you sense growing within you.”
The possibilities of of teens and 20s gives why to the realism of our 30s when confronted with life experience. When you hit your 30s many of your once-in-love friends have split up, your once-enthusiastic coworkers now hate their jobs, and once-solid friends and family relationships have dissolved.
So where does this realism of your 30s lead? That depends. If left unchecked, it could lead you into the abyss that is cynicism and opening time whining and complaining about Nerd Culture on social media. Nieuwhof continues, “Most cynics are former optimists. You’d never know it now, but there was a time when they were hopeful, enthusiastic, and even cheerful. There’s something inside the human spirit that wants to hope, wants to think things will get better.”
So, you’ve seen too much. You’ve been hurt before, so you understandably want to protect yourself from future hurt. That means past failures are projected unto future situations. Wariness makes you weary. You decide to stop trusting, hoping, and believing. Calluses form. Suspicion evokes into anger and bitterness. Silliness becomes sarcasm.
What was once happiness and gratitude has become bitter crotchetyness. You’ve become a sourpuss.
This matters, and not just for your personal happiness. Cynics never make things better. They just tell us why things can’t get better. So how do we avoid becoming a sourpuss and what do we do if we know we are one?
Be a curious Nerd, not a know-it-all.
A great step to avoid cynicism is to cultivate curiosity. Give fewer answers and replace that by asking open-ended questions. I know it sounds Pollyanna but it works.
I know one guy who I don’t recall ever having asked a question in an online environment. If some sort of news – like a Marvel movie rumor or announcement – is brought up, he immediately drops a hot take. His opinion is immediately fully formed, his thoughts already sharpened on the whetstone of sarcasm.
And that’s honestly understandable. Social media directs us that way, doesn’t it? Social media and our culture doesn’t foster curiosity, it demands fast-paced, knee-jerk responses, the quicker the better. And if your quick take can be hotter and have a little more bite that the next person’s, then you are rewarded with a like.
But even though my friend’s incurious nature is entirely understandable in our culture today, it fosters cynicism. You can see the defense subtext in his comments, they hurts they attempt to cover. Hurt people hurt people, they often say.
But what if those hot takes became curiosity? Questions like, “What do you think about that? Why do you like that? What is special about that for you?” Or even, “Those are my thoughts, but what do you think?“
Give fewer answers because if you feel you need to be the authority on a Nerd Culture social media platform, you’re killing conversation. Worse, you’re being seen as a sourpuss.
Carey Nieuwhof concludes, “Giving fewer answers not only affects the person you’re talking to, but it also has an impact on you. Do it long enough, and you’ll find that the restraint makes you challenge your own thinking, causes you to ask yourself more questions, and encourages you to dig deeper.
If you’re worried that people won’t find you as convincing as you used to be, relax. Most people will find you more persuasive and compelling. Openness attracts people and draws them in. Increasingly in our culture, certainty is off-putting.”
Better, it’ll help you roll back being a sourpuss. It won’t come all at once, but you have to have the courage to chip away at cynicism. And don’t just do it for the others around you that are being made miserable, do it for yourself and your own happiness.