While I don’t know who you are or why in the world you chose a nerd for your companion, I do know that you are not a knowable system. Being your own quirky self will be more than enough to present new and interesting challenges to your nerd.Besides, it’s just as much a nerd’s job to figure you out, and maybe someone somewhere is writing an article about your particular quirks. There is also a chance that you’re lucky and you are currently your nerd’s project. Don’t get too comfortable because he’ll move on, and, when that happens, you’ll be wondering what happened to all the attention. Regarding gender: for this piece, my prototypical nerd is a he as a convenience.There are plenty of she nerds out there for which these observations equally apply. It’s clichéd, but a nerd is defined by his computer, and you need to understand why. A nerd has a mental model of the hardware and the software in his head.Information that your nerd is exposed to when the irrelevance flag is waving is forgotten almost immediately. Next time you hear “Cool,” I want you to ask, “What’d I just say? Small talk is the bane of the nerd’s existence because small talk is a combination of aspects of the world that your nerd hates.” That awkward grin on your nerd’s face is the first step in getting him to acknowledge that he’s the problem in this particular conversation. When your nerd is staring at a stranger, all he’s thinking is, “I have no system for understanding this messy person in front of me.” This is where the shy comes from. The skills to interact with other people are there. Advanced Nerd Tweakage If you’re still reading, then I’m thinking that your nerd is worth keeping.Even though he’s apt to vanish for hours, has a strange sense of humor, doesn’t like you touching his stuff, and often doesn’t listen when you’re talking directly to him, he’s a keeper. My advice: Map the things he’s bad at to the things he loves.
Every profession has this — the moment when you’ve moved significantly closer to done.
You’re going to create a quiet, dark place here he can orient himself and figure out which way the water flushes down the toilet. Carve out three days somewhere quiet at the beginning of the trip. How about letting him chill on the bed for a half-day before you drag him out to see the Golden Gate Bridge? Food is thrown into the irrelevant bucket because it’s getting in the way of the content. Thing is, you want your nerd to eat healthily so that he’s here in another thirty years, so how do you change this behavior? For me, exercise became the project ten years ago after a horrible break-up.
Second, and more importantly, you need to remind him about his insatiable appetite for information. When the project was no longer the Ex, I dove into exercise every single day of the week. Significant nerd behavioral change is only going to happen if your nerd engages in the project heart and soul. My guess is that, collectively, your nerd interacts with ten times more people than you think he does.
Your nerd is used to making huge contextual leaps where he’s talking to a friend in one window, worrying about his 401k in another, and reading about World War II in yet another. For many topics, his knowledge is an inch deep and four miles wide. For any given piece of incoming information, your nerd is making a lightning fast assessment: relevant or not relevant?
You might suspect that given a world where context is constantly shifting, your nerd can’t focus, and you’d be partially correct. He’s comfortable with this fact because he knows that deep knowledge about any topic is a clever keystroke away. Your nerd has built an annoyingly efficient relevancy engine in his head. Relevance means that the incoming information fits into the system of things your nerd currently cares about.It’s another juicy cliché to say that nerds love video games, but that’s not what they love.