Shame on You!
The Nerd-Shaming Meme, Not So Funny
The nerd-shaming meme you see trolling Facebook and Buzzfeed is pretty much harmless, but it definitely says something about the changing face of bullying.
It's not just the Plastics a la "Mean Girls" who will taunt you about your shirt, shoes, taste in music etc. In the age of social media, everyone has an opinion.
Rachel Thomasian, licensed marriage and family therapist,certified anger management facilitator and ChickRx expert, says that bullying behavior can have two causes.
"Most bullying behavior is either a call for attention or a way to make someone feel better about themselves by belittling someone else," she said. "They test people to feel bigger, stronger, more important, or better than others."
In the case of nerd-shaming, girls are often judged for playing video games or reading comic books. Meg Murphy, a 25-year-old hybrid of gamer and girly girl, has had her share of shaming.
Because of the stereotypes placed on genders and cliques, people tend dislike it when worlds collide.
"I like to do several things, I like to sleep, go outside, ride my bike, be on the internet, be with friends, play video games, cook, go shopping, read books, read comic books, swim in the water..." Murphy said. "I feel that everyone should be allowed to take an interest in anything they want, even if it conflicts with another interest. You're gonna like what you like!"
Murphy and her friends can certainly take a joke, but there is always a line to be crossed.
"Nerd shaming is a form of bullying and, in a sense, we all have the potential to bully someone we see as 'less' than ourselves," she said. "It's wrong. But most people find the courage to overcome acting like that, I think."
With social media feeds, you may encounter something you don't agree with. Thomasian agrees that no matter how harmless a picture or video seems, it can hurt.
"I think bullying can cross every boundary," she said. "Social media allows kids who would otherwise not be bullies, meaning they aren't very popular, athletic or physically strong, to engage in shaming and bullying. Memes make it easier for anyone to participate."
In the particular case of nerd-shaming, it can be contradictory. At comic cons, you'll see plenty of scantily clad, voluptuous, women dressed in superhero costumes.
So what's the big deal if the cheerleader that sits next to you in Algebra wears black-rimmed glasses and a "Big Bang Theory" shirt?
"There is no difference between those women in my opinion," Murphy said. "We just all have a different outlook. I think everyone has varying degrees if interest in things, especially when it comes to nerdy subjects. I should be allowed to like 'Star Wars' and say I do and not prove it to someone."
If you find yourself being a victim of shaming or bullying in any form, the best medicine is to keep calm and carry on.
"Bullies often pick on people they believe they can have power over," Thomasian said. "If they get the reaction they're looking for, it is likely they will target that person again. However, if you're cool, calm and assertive, they won't get the reinforcement they need and move on."
Thomasian suggests practicing comebacks with friends or front of mirror. A simple "Nope, not bothering me," can go a long way.
"Move on," Murphy advises. "Because the ones that are trying to make you feel bad aren't worth caring about. The people who love you are."
As "It gets better," there is still hope that thoughtless internet crazes will cease. Until then, plug in your xBox, put on your glasses and proudly sport your Mario t-shirt. It's not just a man's world after all.