There are a few words I use to identify myself if asked. Some of them are quite obvious – Pakistani and Muslim, the standard fare – and some of them to do with my personality – a passionate person and a lover of the color pink – but beyond those, there’s one other term that I identify with dearly.
I am a loud, proud Nerdfighter.
A Nerdfighter, for those who don’t know, is not a person who fights nerds. A Nerdfighter is a citizen of Nerdfighteria, a community of nerds who Don’t Forget To Be Awesome (DFTBA!)
…in more coherent terms, Nerdfighters is basically the name given to fans of John Green, Hank Green and the Vlogbrothers channel in general. It’s an online community of people who identify with all that they love and who fight to decrease world suck, the critical evil that threatens the world we live in (greed, poverty, wars, all those things) and which, incidentally, is something I aspire to do as well. It helps, then, to have a community of people – even those you’ve never met before – that inherently want the same thing.
And it helps that that community is somewhat-led (I use the term loosely because Hank and John have never once called themselves Head Nerdfighters – there is no such thing) by two incredible, wonderful human beings, who treat people not according to their age, but treat them with the knowledge that they are intelligent, complex human beings, capable of feeling and doing unique things. That is something so rare.
I’ve gushed about John Green before – he is probably the closest thing I have to a hero or an idol – but truly, there’s no limit to the words I could say about him. And the same goes to Hank Green, that sweet, genuine, unabashedly passionate man who sings songs about anglerfishes and Helen Hunt…together, they are the vlogbrothers, who have changed the lives of so many people and added a greater depth to others’ – including my own, not just with vlogbrothers, but with so many other off-shoots!
Scishow where Hank teaches us how to be smarter individuals; CrashCourse (World History, Biology, Ecology, Literature…) where we’re taught how to think outside the box and guided to thinking for ourselves, especially in History; the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a modern Vlog adaptation of Pride and Prejudice; Project4Awesome, the Foundation to Decrease Worldsuck and countless other things! And let’s not forget John’s books, Hank’s music, his websites, Vidcon…I could go on.
In fact, I spent a good chunk of my TEDx talk (which I will upload as soon as it’s on the TEDx Youtube channel, bear with me here) actually talking about John and Hank, citing them as examples of how passion can take you places you never thought conceivable. And it’s true! Brotherhood 2.0 was birthed just so Hank and John could communicate textlessly! Now it’s just exploded and turned into a mutant creature of Awesome. But anyway, #TEDxWinch was trending and so a lot of people were tuned into the event and I suppose as I mentioned John and Hank, there was an explosion in the Nerdfighter community of Dubai – I’m not entirely sure, I was too busy being petrified on stage – and as I stepped off once my speech was done and checked my phone, I saw so many messages from excited Nerdfighters telling me how they loved my speech, how awesome it was that a Nerdfighter was doing a TEDx talk.
Subsequently, I felt a warmth that bubbled up in the pit of my belly and a grin that threatened to rip my cheek muscles apart…and I still don’t have any words for that experience.
That’s the wonderful thing about being in a community. The sense of unity you get, the connections you make, the fraternity in getting excited about things. And that’s exactly what Nerdfighteria is all about! Not allowing anything to restrain your joy and exhilaration when you talk about the things you love! Because why should you let anything hinder the act of showing just how much you appreciate and love something?
I’ll quote John Green himself on this one:
Because nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff. We don’t have to be like, ‘Oh yeah that purse is okay’ or like, ‘Yeah, I like that band’s early stuff.’ Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself-love it. Hank, when people call people nerds, mostly what they are saying is, ‘You like stuff’, which is just not a good insult at all, like ‘You are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’.
When someone says I’m over-passionate, I’m just like “…wait, what?” because what I’m basically being told is that I’m too excited about things, that I care too much, that I’m filled with too much human emotion over something and…those aren’t inherently bad things. But you know, naturally, at first, I actually did feel bad about being passionate. I thought it was something unnecessary, something that brought down everything else about me. That passion is good but being passionate…well, you have to follow certain guidelines for it to be acceptable. …but ever since I became a part of Nerdfighteria, I realized how silly it is to apologize for being who I am, because I am a passionate person! I get excited! I love human beings, I love the world, I love the things we do and create together, I get upset about the cruel things we can do somethings, I cry over beautiful cinema and music, I sob and get angry at unfair endings, I laugh hysterically at things that are hilarious and I Never Feel More Alive than I do in those moments of intense emotion and passion.
Everyone should be able to feel that. No matter how discouraging other people’s reaction may be.
So I want to thank Hank and John Green for teaching me not to be afraid. And I want to thank Nerdfighteria for reinforcing my love of everything. As John Green said in his ode to Nerdfighteria in the Vlogbrothers’ Carnegie Hall show yesterday, “It has helped me fall in love with the world.”
It’ll take a lot to make me unlove the world. And, as a way of ending this blog post, I’ll quote something we say in my hometown: