10 Signs She’s Not Really a Nerd

Is she faking her dorkiness?

jenn-hoffmanby jenn-hoffman
If the Internet has taught us anything recently, it’s that being a nerd is suddenly cool. Or is it? Is being truly intelligent, informed, a little socially awkward and having dorky hobbies really becoming mainstream, or is this newly self-professed nerd herd just a bunch of trend followers hopping on the latest bandwagon?

There’s much debate about the true definition of a nerd. Some people credit Dr. Seuss with inventing the term “nerd” in 1954 in a line that read “A nerkle, a nerd, and a seersucker too,” although there’s not full agreement on whether this is the widely accepted origin of nerdism. Some people define nerdiness through intelligence, while others attribute it to certain types of special interests.

There’s also a spirited debate about nerds vs. geeks. Sociologists, historians, writers and pop-culture junkies argue that these terms define two different varying sets of personalities and characteristics entirely. Nerds are a seen as social outcasts, geeks are viewed as specialists, fanboys/girls and people who “geek out” on a certain topic. However, when it comes to women, both words seem to have gone from an insult or sub-culture speak, to a self-professed title of honor, awesomeness and niche popularity.

So how can you tell if your nerdy chick is the real deal or just a trendy girl in geek glasses? Here are Mandatory’s 10 Signs She’s Not Really a Nerd.

1. Her Glasses Are Fake. For goofy photo shoots, costume parties or if she’s playing a character in a stage show, it might be fun to rock the fake lenses. Girls like to accessorize and glasses do have a certain “naughty librarian” look that adds sex appeal to an outfit. However, if she’s constantly posting Facebook pictures of herself in a bikini, surrounded by a gaggle of guys with tribal tattoos while she happens to be sporting a pair of oversized spectacles from Urban Outfitters with the caption “I’m such a dork. LOL!” she’s probably just a hot chick trying to make you believe she’s a hot and smart chick.

2. She Doesn’t Have Hobbies. Nerds are known for being smart, but they’re also known for being hobbyists. You don’t have to be heavily involved in cosplay, the “Star Trek” fan club or reading science fiction all day to be a geek, but you do have to have hobbies and pastimes that you “geek out” on. If you ask her what she likes to do for fun, and her answer is based entirely on her social life rather than any signs of introverted influence, we’re sorry, dude, but she’s not a nerd.

3. She Looks Like a Nerd. If she looks like the stereotypical nerd, she’s probably really a hipster. Geek chic is very hot right now and can easily be purchased at American Apparel. Right now, Sarah Jessica Parker’s “Square Pegs” look is much trendier than the high fashion she rocked in “Sex and the City.” Real nerds just wear whatever they want without worrying if they look the part. Some nerdy girls dress like dorks; other nerds have good taste.

4. She Isn’t Tech Savvy. Real nerdy girls can fix their own computers, navigate a PC- or Mac-based world, write blog posts and update their statuses from any device like a pro. Maybe they’re too busy being socially awkward to care about social media, but they certainly could run game on any digitally oriented venture if they wanted to. If your girl pays the Geek Squad to fix her laptop rather than doing it herself or crowd-sourcing the Web for help, she’s probably not a nerd.

5. She Doesn’t Recognize Any of These Names. Ray Tomlinson, Shawn Fanning, Steve Wozniak, James D. Watson, Francis Crick, Stephen Hawking, Marissa Mayer, Richard Saul Wurman, Donald Jeffry Herbert, Frank Herbert, Ray Bradbury, Nathan Fillion, Mac Lethal, Julian Assange, Del Close, Noam Chomsky, Van Jones, Kevin Mitnick, Rene Descartes, John Locke, Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx, Elinor Ostrom, George Takei, Meg Whitman, Felicia Day or Chris Hardwick.

6. The Ranch-Dressing Test (slightly stolen from Chris Hardwick). Refer to something typical, basic or lowbrow as “ranch dressing” and see if she gets it. There’s a certain lowest common denominator mentality about pop culture and socialization that nerds recognize as stupid. Examples of this can be seen in just about every commercial during football season. A kick to the balls makes you laugh? That’s pretty ranch. Your favorite band is Nickelback? Ranch as hell. You love Guy Fieri and his edgy, yet loveable hosting style? Pour some ranch on that. True nerds will understand why ranch dressing exemplifies all that is, well, just so ranch.

7. She Thinks Bullying Is a Term Made Up by Cowards. If she’s never been tortured or at the very least completely ostracized by her peers for being different, she’s probably not a nerd.

8. She Goes to Comic-Con. Going to Comic-Con doesn’t make you a nerd. There are plenty of nerds at the “largest comic book and popular arts convention in the world,” but there are also promotional models (aka “Booth Babes”), party animals, producers, publicists, journalists, random San Diegans and people who just want to be where the party is at, yo. Simply attending the most mainstream gathering of geekery doesn’t make her anything besides someone who either works in the industry, is promoting something special or just likes to have fun.

9. There Are No Books in Her Bedroom. As John Waters said “We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t f— them.” If you’re lucky enough to be brought back to her room, you’re also lucky enough to get a glimpse into her mind. No books? No Kindle? Not even an iPad? Not a nerd. But who cares if you are already in her bedroom, right?

10. She’s Not Smart. Here’s a surefire way to find out if she’s really a true nerd or not: Talk to her. Ask her thoughts about science, politics, math, geography, music, films, history, pop culture or even news and current events. If she is so self-absorbed in her nerdy persona that she forgets to actually use her mind to do anything besides create an image, she’s not really a nerd. She’s a caricature.