I have long joyously self-identified as a nerd. Originally I preferred the term geek, but then realized there was no commonly held difference between the two terms and even if there was I would probably qualify as both. Hell, I recently realized that I own a backup calculator watch. We can probably throw in dork for good measure.
Recent events have reminded me all is not well in the nerd community at large. Revelations of misogyny, racism, and general dickishness are frustrating for those of us who wish to see nerd culture be a safe place for everyone to pursue the things that they love, whatever they may be; a place for us to take delight in things without any consortium of “cool kids” declaring our delight to be invalid. Calling out unacceptable behavior when we see it is an important task, but I also wanted to find a way to actively encourage the very best of nerd culture. From this desire arose a simple event: Nerds n’ Such.
The premise of a Nerds n’ Such gathering is simple: assemble a group of people, grab some drinks and snacks, and go around in a circle having each attendee state a thing that they love and why they love it. The thing shared can be literally anything; a TV show, a book, a song, a place, a philosophy, etc. The only hard and fast rule of Nerds n’ Such is that no one is allowed to make fun of or condemn someone for what they love or why they love it. Here are a few pieces of advice for hosting your own version of Nerds n’ Such:
The very first Nerds n’ Such took place at a favorite pub of mine. While the food and drink were magnificent (seriously, if you’re ever in Bellingham do yourself a favor and drop by The Local) the background noise level was high enough to make conversation between the 6-8 of us difficult. I hosted later ones at my house and the superior ease of disucssion far outweighed the reduction in food and drink quality.
I’ve found that groups of about 6-8 people tend to work splendidly. I hosted one event with about 12 people and, while a wonderful time was had, the number of attendees was borderline unmanageable. If need be I’d recommend hosting multiple events with different groups of invitees.
The whole point of the event is to help people share their joys with each other, discovering new or unexpectedly shared passions. I’ve found the go-in-a-circle-sharing-a-thing mechanic to be very effective, but each group is different so experiment with what works for you and your guests. I’ve found that taking occasional breaks to just relax and chat between rounds of thing sharing helps keep things moving smoothly.
I’ve hosted three of these events so far and have been thrilled by the outcome. Few things are as satisfying as helping to facilitate a, “What you too? I thought I was the only one!” moment between people. So go forth and host your own Nerds n’ Such! And in all your dealings may you never forget to be awesome.