My roommate and I are nerds. In fact, we have a John Green quote posted on our living room wall that reads:
“Nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff… Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. Hank, when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’.”
When I first saw this poster I remembered being so excited that “Yes! someone put into words how I feel about a lot of things! Oh my God John Green be my friend. I love you!” which introduces, in the same sentence, the Fangirl.
I’d like to consider myself in someway an experienced fangirl. I wouldn’t go to say I’m a professional like Tyler Oakley, but I’ve had my fair share of pure joy moments brought on by the sheer existence of my favorite person, show, or band.
Let me give you a bit of exposition on my fangirling days. It’s hard to say who started it all, The Spice Girls or The Power Rangers. While these things are polar opposites, they both had me enthralled as a young girl. I needed to be Sporty Spice and dreamed of the day that I could do backflips in platform shoes (which I don’t think ever actually happened), and I would fight tooth and nail for the chance to be the Pink Ranger in Power Ranger Play Pretend (although my sister normally won 😦 and I’m apparently still butt hurt). I remember spending hours upon hours singing songs or karate chopping my stuffed animals. I’ve seen Spice World and the Power Rangers (both original and Turbo [obvi the better one and I will fight you about it]) movies more times that I care to admit and can probably explain them, shot-by-shot, in great detail.
As I grew older, the frequency in which I actively talked about these two things or watched the movies decreased to almost nonexistent, but my love and appreciation for them never went away. Which led me to think, was I ever really just a fangirl?
In contrast to this is my experience with Twilight. I always say “Everyone went through the Twilight phase” normally followed by a snarky “don’t even try me.” But I remembered being so invested in all of the… hype[?] and needing to know everything about the characters which then transferred over to the movie in relation to needing to know everything about the actors. I watched hours of press junket interviews, talked ad nauseum about my Bella and Jacob feelings and my much stronger anti-Edward feels. I did it all, read the books, watch the movies, reread the books, went to cons, rewatched the movies, and regrettably spent way too much time looking at pictures of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. I look back and can really only be grateful for a few things during this time in my life, unlike with Harry Potter which I was exposed to several years earlier and still to this day talk about with my friends, revisit the books and movies, and appropriately freak out at the theme park.
But this isn’t another debate about Twilight vs Harry Potter or the impact either had on popular culture, but more so about differences between being a nerd and a fangirl.
I asked a bunch of my friends this week if they thought there was a difference between being a nerd and being a fangirl. I wasn’t surprised that it was overall “Yes”, but I was surprised that it was unanimous. And more than that, the idea of being a fangirl was viewed negatively.
Before I started writing about this, I never thought to compare these two types of groups. But then I thought “well wait, it’s like John Green’s quote, they both just really love something. Why is it different?”
According to my friends Fangirls are obsessive, superficial, extreme, stalkers and emotional; while Nerds are passionate, rational, inclusive, and excited. It’s easy to point fingers at certain groups of people like the Directioners and Beliebers and even the Twihards because even I can recognize crazy. But for me, this was alarming. I never really thought of the negative connotation given to the Fangirl because I for so long associated myself as one of them. Sure, I was aware that other people cared more (way more) than I do about certain aspects of things, but to me that didn’t make me less of a fan.
Which opens up a whole new realm of conversation about the topic. Are there levels of Fangirling? Are Fangirls Nerds who just missed the mark of passion and sailed into obsession? OR are Nerds Fangirls who matured into respectfulness?
Coming to the end of this, I don’t really have a conclusion or an answer. Have the tendencies of a nerd turned into fangirling through the access to social media? Is it a widespread problem that involves only our youth (*Schmidt voice*YOUTHS). However, after thinking about it further I came to this realization; while a Fangirls excitement is a feathery moment caught in the fleeting winds of popular culture, the experiences of a Nerd lingers. It embeds itself into the core of our DNA and last forever.