The socially and physically inept, the outcasts, often associated with computers and books- these characteristics constitute the stereotype of the average geek. Students are afraid to reveal their identities in an environment among their peers because of the fear of being an outcast among the idolized jocks. In an excerpt from “America Needs Its Nerds” Harvard student and writer Leonid Fridman expresses his disgust for the unjust treatment of individuals who are essential to our country- the geeks. He addresses the American public with a call to action to put geeks into their deserved positions, giving them hope and motivation to express their own identities. Fridman utilizes irony when discussing how even Harvard students are being picked on, as well as the compare and contrast between America’s discouraging treatment of the nerd to East Asia and China’s praising of them, to represent how the fear of social rejection has forced these mistreated intellects to hide their academic capabilities.
Leonid Fridmen is disappointment with the fact that even at Harvard, one of the top Ivy League colleges, students are still picked on because of their levels of intellect. It is ironic that even at one of the top colleges in America where nerds and geeks dominate the realm of the school that “anti-intellectualism is rampant”. Social standing competes with intelligence even at the most academic institution, showing America that students are “ashamed” of their intellect because of the negative stereotypes society degraded them with. Fridman also employs irony when referring to “get[ting] wasted at parties” by describing how nerds avoid damaging their brain and bodies, but are punished socially for not physically hurting themselves.
Fridman’s call to action addresses the American public as being erroneous in their actions of idolizing the nonintellectual while demeaning the studious intellectuals when he compares America’s academic values to those of East Asia’s. In America, athletes and celebrities are rewarded and more prevalent in society then those interested in pursuing academics. With these characteristics of our society, it is impossible to “compete in the technology rate” or be a “leading political and cultural force” with other countries who encourage academics rather than reject the individuals who excel in it.
Fridman’s belief of demeaning the intellectual is a continual paradigm in our society today. In 2003, Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected to be the Governor of California; however, it was primarily for his name recognition as a body builder and film star, lacking any experience working in government. Although Schwarzenegger lacked the intellectual knowledge he needed, he was elected because the public idolized him. The public is more interested in the media and athletics and neglect to realize the important impact researchers and intellects have on our world.
Colleges pay college athletic coaches more than the professors working at an institution. Americans pay more on professional sports then they do to fund cancer research or education. As USA Today wrote, “You can get a Nobel Prize at your university and you won’t get anywhere near that attention. And so I think between the public and the media, they are telling us what they value.” The public is involved, and often times addicted, to athletes or social media and reject the academically motivated as outcasts from the ideal society. Unfortunately, this public is unaware of the capabilities of academic achievement and the progress it has brought us in our world.