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Ask Slashdot: Rectifying Nerd Arrogance? 823

An anonymous reader writes "Like some Slashdot users, I began attending university last month for computer science. The experience represents my first time away from home and I'm almost constantly with my peers, many of whom are also computer science students. Recently, I have become cognizant of the many negative opinions associated with a 'normal' person's perspective of what a nerd is like. Conversing with my college computer science peers (many of whom are quite nerdy), I have noticed that many of them are extremely arrogant. Upon introspection, I have come to the realization that I am also very similar to them and am very curious, but worried. I have noticed similar personality characteristics on Slashdot. Where does this nerd arrogance come from? How can it be rectified? I am concerned that, if I do not abolish these annoying tendencies, I may have trouble later on in life with my career and relationships. Has anybody run into problems in life with the arrogance that seems to be so prevalent with nerds? If so, how did you handle the situation?"
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Ask Slashdot: Rectifying Nerd Arrogance?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:01PM (#41765835)

    Everyone in the universe gets that. Nerd arrogance comes from the basic insecurities that all “not normal” people have. The more you love math and science the further you'll be from people who live for the next episode of Jersey Shore.

    The insecurity is addressed by the assumption that being great at computers/math/science means you don't have to be good at all those other “human” skills. But as Admrial Akbar will remind you: “It's a Trap!” If you're an amazing nerd, people will put up with your crappy attitude at work, but if your kind, decent, patient nerd, people will beg their bosses to have you on their team.

    I have 50 square feet of window, can see a full third of the skyline, take long lunches and get to design super computing clusters, and this job is more due to my people skills than nerdy ones. I design AI algorithms on the weekend when I need extra-nerd time.

    To your worry about being corrupted by nerdfluence, “It all comes down to choice.” I recommend:

    Read XKCD to be reminded that you're not alone, and you don't have to be a jerk to be nerd.

    Keep in mind that we were all beginners once. You may not have been a beginner since you were 11, but there was a time when it was all new and intimidating. Whether someone is 11 or 55 doesn't change much, and at 11 your job didn't depend on you getting it right the first time.

    The people who had a date for prom, and fix cars, and cook well were no different from you when you were a computer beginner. Dateless people who have to cook for themselves, and fix their own cars may get to call themselves Independent, but they have missed the fundamental advantage of living in a society. Being a decent human, you don't have to have every existing skill, and can instead focus on being a more proficient nerd. It's a trap worth avoiding.


  • by bogidu ( 300637 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:17PM (#41766191)

    ego often fades with age when you realize the pitiful skills you have are no better than those of a banker, lawyer, doctor, or anyone else that truly knows their shit. On the other hand, you could just be a raging asshole, those exist in any field of study.

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @12:17PM (#41766203)

    I really don't mean to sound arrogant here, but let's not confuse arrogance with confidence.

    And to prove my point, go stand around a water cooler. Any water cooler.

    What do you think lawyers talk about around the water cooler? They talk about those "idiots" who try and represent themselves.

    What do you think CPAs talk about around the water cooler? They talk about those "idiots" who think they're bean counters.

    What do you think engineers talk about around the water cooler? They talk about those "idiots" who think they're MSEEs.

    And finally, what do you think nerds talk about around the water cooler? They talk about those "idiots" who think they're IT experts.

    Yes, perhaps some of the time it can be construed as pure arrogance and attitude. But most of the time, it's simply confidence among experts in their respective fields.

  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @01:26PM (#41767477)
    Back in ancient times they year started with the Freshman Picnic in the Great Court. Most of us were turned off by strangers trying to impress each other with their intellectual exploits. The final nail in coffin was when average score on the first physics test was like 50%. Few MIT students had ever seen less than a 90 in their lives. Or when your dorm throws a party and no women from neighboring colleges come (worse than the Social Network movie).
  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @01:55PM (#41768015)

    well CS is not IT and a 4 year BA / BS for phone support is extreme over kill with a big skills gap.

    Well maybe with there was a real trades based plan for IT work then people will be better off.

  • by Vireo ( 190514 ) on Thursday October 25, 2012 @02:23PM (#41768439)

    To quote the late great George Carlin:

    Just think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.

    That would be the median person, of course.

May all your PUSHes be POPped.