In this paper, the labeling of people as nerds will be discussed. The first thing is to define what labeling is and its background.
Labeling is simply giving people labels because of their physical appearance or things that they do. Sociologists developed the labeling theory in the early 1960s. The theory of labeling discusses how the self identity and behavior of people may be influenced by the terms or labels used to describe or classify them. The theory proposes that labeled people tend to live up to those labels placed upon them by society. Frank Tannenbaum (1938), one of the developers of the theory, realized that those tagged as delinquent youth, tended to live up to that prophecy and indulged further in delinquent activities.
A nerd is a derogatory term used to describe an intellectual, but socially impaired person.
Society labels nerds because they tend to have different pursuits than those ordinary people have. This is unfortunate because most of them end up making marvelous contributions to society. They get viewed as an outsider group because they exhibit introvert characteristics. Nerds hardly interact with others; therefore, they get misunderstood. The unfortunate thing about the labeling of nerds is that it is done by students at school. Sometimes, students at a young age can display some characteristics that make them slightly different from other children. As such, their fellow students tend to pick on them because of these so called weird behaviors. They then get labeled as weirdoes or nerds; especially if they excel at school but not in social scenes. There is a strong correlation between being smart in school and being labeled as a nerd. Unpopularity also goes hand in hand with the label. Rarely would one find a nerd being popular. They are usually the hated and ostracized groups in schools because of their unique capabilities and skills.
Bullying is especially serious in public American schools. The labeling of nerds is as a result of bullying. Bullies intentionally pick on children with a disposition of unique gifts, which they do not possess themselves. Jealousy is one of the key reasons why students torture their fellow students.
In essence, nerds resist the label because it tends to alienate them even further from having friends and a normal life at school. No one wants to be alone in this world, even those who claim they do. As such, when children alienate and label nerds, these nerds sink further into the cocoon created by the label. With time, nerds stop fighting the label and in fact, start living up to the name.
Other students avoid nerds and hardly associate with them. Students who talk to them end up facing the same maltreatment given to nerds. Consequently, no one likes to be associated with a nerd, and this worsens the loneliness in their lives, making them feel unworthy and unloved. Since popularity is critical in a teenager’s life, no one wants to be unpopular by being friends with a nerd. Children gain popularity points by distancing themselves from nerds and the reverse is equally true. Someone once joked that there is no one who works harder at something than an American teenager working at being popular. They do it relentlessly. In fact, when compared to neurosurgeons, the latter would seem lazy. Because of this demon of popularity, nerds endure miserable lives in schools. In schools, the most popular students are those that excel in sports, or those who are cheer leaders and have admirable looks or come from wealthy homes. In a typical American high school, these popular students usually have their own tables at the school cafeteria where only that clique can eat. Nerds, on the other hand, also have their own small corner where they eat together. Popular children dictate that nerds should not interact with other students because they are not worthy to do so.
One intriguing fact to note is that nerds get labeled and attacked by a group and not by an individual bully as people assume. People form a bond when they gang up and attack one common enemy. In school, these kids look like the insiders, because they have formed a strong alliance by attacking one common enemy - the nerd. The damage caused by these attacks is sometimes irreversible for some teenagers. Studies have revealed that nerds portray almost the same behavior all over the world.