We live in the Age of the Geek. If you want to get ahead these days, you need to watch Doctor Who, claim that Michael Collins shared your taste for craft stout and know how to turn a Coke bottle into a chandelier. Relax, there’s no need to be an actual nerd. My 10 Step Guide will show you how to fake it.
First things first. You’ll need an obsession. A broad philosophy and general knowledge is so Last Year; it’s like ringing someone other than your mother on the landline. It’s a signal that you are the kind of saddo who watches back episodes of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire on the Challenge Channel. That’s game over these days. You’re much more about the specialised subject in Mastermind.
Some reckon our new-found obsession with obsession is an attempt to replace the void left by religion. This notion lasts until your first time at mass in 15 years for the cousin’s wedding. That’s when you realise the church might not hold the answer to that large hole where your soul used to be. And not just because the priest tried to sneak in a second collection. Although mainly because of that. (Seriously Father, the church roof looks just fine to us.)
There should be no obvious ulterior motive when choosing your obsession. It is not enough to feign interest in the hope of meeting someone for meaningless sex. So that rules out samba dancing classes and tag rugby. Not to mention politics.
There is no point in faking an obsession if nobody knows about it. Facebook is your friend here, allowing you to share a link to pages with names like I Love Extreme Knitting. Now everyone knows you are a person of substance. That said, under no circumstances should you become a Facebook friend with anyone on I Love Extreme Knitting. Unless you want to get closer to an emotionally fragile woman called Liz who has a t-shirt saying “I’ll have you in stitches.”
A word of warning. There is a good chance your parents will be alarmed at your new obsession. Mammy might even say “you’re turning into some kind of queerhawk.” That’s a clear sign you are doing something right.
There was a time when the most ridiculed people in the world were members of CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale.) They were generally middle-aged, plump men from England who were easy to outrun. We know they were easy to outrun, because most people who met a member ended up making a run for it. Then the hipsters came along and called it Craft Beer instead of Real Ale. And now it’s the coolest obsession in town.
The most important thing about craft beer is not the taste. It’s actually the provenance. That’s the hipster word for history. So don’t be put off by a craft stout just because it tastes like rusty bananas and makes you fart like a prop forward. If you can say “apparently this is what Michael Collins drank five minutes before he was shot”, then that beer will make you look incredibly exotic. (As long as you can muffle the farts.) Here’s another thing – a lot of craft beers have outrageous names like the Archbishop’s Mickey. It is very uncool to laugh at such names. Nobody has ever laughed at the Archbishop’s Mickey. (Except his housekeeper, says you.)
Bear in mind that craft beers taste nothing like your average lager. The difference being they have an actual taste. That’s great if you want to enjoy them with some food. But not so good when you are trying to skelp ten of them into you, one after the other. Or as it’s known in some quarters, Saturday night. Don’t worry — the hipsters have you covered. The important word here is sessionable. That’s hipster-speak for a milder craft beer that you can skelp in to you. So here’s what to say when you wake up on the early-morning ferry to Fishguard, inexplicably dressed as a slutty nun. “Enjoyed a fabulous new craft pilsner last night. Very sessionable.” Look at you all du jour and everything.
If we were writing this five years ago, we would have advised you to keep tabs on the foodies. That was when you could still have garnered maximum Nerd Points for your views on the clarity of olive oil from the south-facing hills around the Italian port city of Bari. (You might also have lost a few friends.) But it is now clear that the whole foody thing has disappeared up its own cupcake. Why? Pulled pork.
Pulled pork has been dominating menus for a couple of years now. That’s surprising given that it sounds like the name of sex act. What makes it even more surprising is that pulled-pork tastes like, let’s see, nothing until you cover it with some kind of barbeque sauce. It doesn’t help that it looks and smells a bit like cat-food. Let’s face it — if pulled-pork is the best they can come up with, then it’s fair to say that the foody thing is done and dusted (with organic cocoa).
What happens next is what happens when any trend comes screeching to a halt. Irony. In other words, everyone heads back to the 1970s. So get ahead of the curve. Put on a cheese-cloth shirt with a pair of Dingos and start brushing up on your beef stroganoff. (Chances are the hipsters are already practising this in a disused warehouse off the M50.)
Remember, the language is all going to change. There’s no need for a commentary on the provenance of the Marie Rose sauce when you’re horsing down a prawn cocktail. A simple “Jesus lads, that fills the gap” will do the trick, as you wash it down with a few pints of Carling Black Label. (Or maybe a Satzenbrau for the lovely lady.)
If you think upcycling involves a bike and a hill then we’ve got some work to do. Upcycling is the process of turning discarded garbage into something new and hopefully beautiful. If you think it’s just a new word for recycling without the hippy connotations, then you are probably on to something. If you think it sounds like a trendy label the noveau poor middle-class are putting on Make-and-Do, you are definitely on to something.
As with all the obsessions here, you need to advertise that you are an upcycling nerd. No problem — there are plenty events around the country where you join fellow upcyclists. Under no circumstances should you refer to one of these events as a car-boot sale. A car-boot sale is a place where people off-load their garbage without any pretence they are some kind of artist. That’s not what we’re talking about here.
Upcycling is a great obsession for anyone who is good with their hands. Don’t worry if you’re not. It’s trendy enough right now that it’s also suitable for someone with ten thumbs. Roll an old wire hanger into a dodgy looking necklace these days and your friends will say that you remind them of a young Salvador Dali. (Particularly if you know Louis Walsh.)
Therein lies the problem. Upcycling enthusiasts are very supportive of each other, because let’s just say a lot of them are delicate creatures who wouldn’t be a fan of the truth. So don’t get carried away with praise for your creations. Or else you’ll end up on Dragon’s Den trying to convince Duncan Bannatyne that your business making chandeliers out of old Coca Cola bottles is worth 40 million quid. “I’m out” says Duncan, before you open your mouth.
How do you mean you’re not preparing for a half-marathon? The world is dividing into two camps — miserable fitness freaks and contented couch potatoes. Unfortunately you need to sign-up for the first camp if you want to be a winner in the Age of the Nerd. Don’t worry, the endorphin rush will take some of the edge off your misery.
Fitness is no longer about losing weight or looking good. They have surgery for that. The new fitness is all about numbers. (That makes it as attractive to nerds as snapping a selfie with a cast member from the Big Bang Theory. Almost.) The most important number is the number of kilometres you ran before breakfast. That’s why you will often hear the following discussion between fitness nerds. “How you doing?” “15.7.” “Cool.”
Here’s the problem. As a nerd, you own a number of wearable devices connected to the internet. This is because you have fallen for Big I.T.’s business model, which is to make everyone buy the same thing three times. The default setting on these devices is “Tell all your Facebook friends everything about you do all the time.” Try that for a week and the only Facebook friend will be your mother, because she’s worried that you’re becoming a queerhawk. Here’s a top tip. Your friends are not interested in your morning jog, unless you manage to take a selfie with Bradley Cooper. So change the setting on your smartwatch and smartphone app to “Stop bugging my friends.”
Here’s another tip. Make a video of the steps required to change this setting and post it up on YouTube. When it comes to nerdy points, that’s up there with knowing the name of Spock’s renegade half-brother. Off with you to Google his name now. Unless you know it. In which case you need help.
Get the Right Telly
Life was so much simpler in the past. You’d be having a nice conversation with someone when they’d casually mention that they like Star Trek. You’d leave. Not any more. Nerdy TV is so popular now that there probably wouldn’t be much resistance if Klingon was introduced for the Leaving Cert. If you doubt this, try walking down Grafton Street with a t-shirt that says “I Can’t F**king Stand Dr Who.” You’ll be surrounded by a gang of angry nerds in no time. And not just because you said Dr rather than Doctor. They’ll politely take a few photos and put them up on twitter with the message “Like, seriously. WTF.” That’s a shit-kicking in their world.
Sorry, but it you want to stay relevant, you’ll need to feign an interest in Doctor Who. That means watching every single episode aired since 1963 in case someone asks an awkward question. (You don’t want to be caught by the Daleks.) It will be worth it if you manage to you hook up with a nerd who was a job in IT. We hear some of them even get pay rises. Sexy.
The most accessible nerdy show is of course Game of Thrones. At least they throw in a bit of porn to ease the pain. Make sure to say that you have read all the books. If you can say that in the Dothraki language spoken by the self-righteous blonde one they call Khaleesi, you’ll be inducted straight into the upper echelons of Nerdish society.
There is another nerd-friendly TV show you might enjoy. Getaways. That’s the travel show on RTE where Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain goes to some gorgeous sun-soaked resort and talks about the local history rather than the best places to get two free mojitos with your full-Irish breakfast. The nerds love that kind of a holiday. Almost as much as they love watching Aoibhinn in her bikini.
Genealogy is big for two reasons now. The first is the TV show, Who Do You Think You Are? That’s the one where celebrities say “oh my God” and pretend not to be ashamed that their loser ancestors never did anything to become famous. (Seriously, some of them didn’t even have their own game-show.)
The second thing boosting genealogy is of course our old friend, the internet. The problem with tracing your family tree 20 years ago is that it meant leaving your house. And then heading into the records office, where the nice old lady behind the counter was probably slap bang in the middle of a work-to-rule. But now that he 1901 and 1911 census records are available on-line, you can stalk your ancestors without getting out of bed.
Be careful how you go. We’re all interested in our own families. Particularly when it comes to figuring out how much we might get in the will. But we’re even less interested in other people’s ancestors than we are in their kids. At least until they mention that their great grand-aunt was the first woman in Mallow to drive a car. Now you’re drawn into the new craze – Competitive Ancestors.
There is one trump card that beats all comers — an ancestor in the Old IRA. Nothing is more exotic than someone who shot someone else for auld Ireland. Ideally you should be looking for an ancestor who was involved in the Easter Rising. That shouldn’t be too hard, given that half the country was involved by all accounts. Or you could always just say you found hard evidence your great-grand father was in the GPO in 1916. There’s no need to mention that he popped in during January to buy a stamp.
Get a Side Project
The Age of the Nerd demands that it’s not enough to have a job. You also need a side-project where you get to pursue your passion. Make sure to tell everyone about your passion and insist it is not about making loads of money. Be prepared for them to reply “that’s just as well.”
The Side-Project is big now for a generation of disappointed nerds. They grew up with dreams of being the next Steve Jobs. They ended up working in technical support, trying not to say “it’s above the number 4 you dozy gobshite” to some guy in Iowa who can’t find the dollar sign on his keyboard. That’s disappointment for you.
Obviously the best side-project is an app. This involves a lot of dreaming of becoming the next Steve Jobs, with very little work. In fact, you don’t need to do any work at all. Just say “I’m working on an app right now with some American nerds, but I’ve signed a confidentiality agreement so I’m afraid can’t talk about it.” Excellent. One other thing. If anyone asks about your revenue model, say you haven’t got one. Because if it makes any money, then it isn’t really an app.
The other side project is to self-publish a book. Seriously, who needs some snotty intern in publishing house to tell you there is no market for an erotic thriller about two penguins that is full of typos? Being Irish you might feel an incredible urge to write a gritty story about unrequited love in 1950s rural Ireland. Fair enough, it’s your passion after all. But this is the Age of the Nerd. So don’t forget to add in a couple of gorgeous teenage vampires who are friends with benefits. And maybe a dog with super-powers. Nerds love super-powers. If only they had a few themselves, they would ask Katy Perry to marry them.
Some bad news. Politics is back in vogue. There was a time when shows like Tonight with Vincent Browne were for angry old men (and we’re not just talking about the host). Younger people were attracted by more substantial shows like Celebrity Love Island and The Real World. Not any more.
In fact, there is disturbing evidence on twitter that large numbers of young people are watching current affairs programmes when they should be out trying to get off with absolutely everyone. After a brief fun period, it looks like the swots are firmly back in control. That’s what happens when you tell your children you won’t love them if they fall short in the Leaving Cert.
This wouldn’t matter any other time, but it looks like these political nerds will shortly be our masters. They might seem ridiculous but you don’t want to get on the wrong side of the Nerdisentia either. So here is a quick guide on how to fake being a political nerd.
If someone says “we are at a watershed moment in Irish political life” you must agree. That’s the consensus and you’d be a fool to argue with it. Even if we haven’t seen an original thought in Irish public life since someone said “did you ever consider going in to the auld politics” to Brian Boru.
The other key to staying on-side with the Nerdisentia is to remain in a state of Extreme Outrage at the treatment of women. You don’t really have to do anything — just retweet the odd Guardian article about the shortage of female CEOs and say “this makes me sob of into my Fairtrade coffee.” You’ve hit a few right-on sweet spots there.
There was a time when nerds had no interest in sport. That’s understandable, given the nightmares they still have about Sports Day at school. But sport isn’t just about playing or watching any more. It’s also about numbers. Here come the nerds!
What do you see on screen when a player is substituted in the English Premiership (other than his tattoos)? You see the distance he ran, the passes completed and a bunch of other meaningless numbers that make you long for the good old days, when someone would just say “the lad done good.” You might also see some pundit say, in all seriousness, that Christian Ronaldo is only 75% fit. You might feel like asking where that figure came from. Don’t bother — you’re just raging against the tide.
The Yanks have had this obsession with sports stats for a while. We’re not suggesting this stat frenzy has led to a nation of super-sized, couch bound spectators— but have you ever tried to fit next to an American on a plane?
Unfortunately you’ll need a few sports stats if you are going to thrive these days. Here are three for starters. 90% of people who can tell you Seamus Coleman’s pass-completed average know the price of everything and the value of nothing. 97% of nerds dream of taking over the body of Paul O’Connell and wreaking revenge on Fatty Callaghan for picking on them at school. 100% of people who make snide mathematical remarks when a manager says he demands 110% effort have never played sport at any level.
So there you have it. Anyone who says “I enjoyed that game” now will be dismissed as some kind of vague dreamer. You’re nobody these days unless you can rattle off the numbers. That’s the way things work in the Age of the Nerd. (96% of the time.)