This column appeared in The Herald-Sun in January 2014:

Fifteen years ago, I told my editor at The St. Petersburg Times that I was working on a new side project — an online role-playing game.

He smiled, laughed and said, “Wow, you really are a geek.”

This, coming from a guy with an office festooned with images of armadillos and an obsession with movies like “Caddyshack” and “Animal House.”

I’ve never really considered myself a geek. In my lexicon, geeks are the guys in the old carnivals who pounded nails into their foreheads and bit the heads off chickens.

But long ago I accepted that I’m a nerd.

And, back then, it took actual work to be a nerd. Until I had my own car, I had to ride public transportation in Orlando to reach the nearest public library and check out books to poke my nose into.

I thought I was a unique and special snowflake.

Now, though? Now, everyone’s a nerd about something and it’s easy to do.

Nerds used to have Dungeons & Dragons to call their own, and then everyone else started playing fantasy football. Both are all about playing with statistics.

And everyone with a smart phone can find an app for that.

With a phone or a tablet, people can download libraries worth of books without stepping outside of their home. They can plow through volume after volume of Harry Potter books. They can stream music, movies and live sports, or binge on “Breaking Bad” and “House of Cards.”

And then they can yak about it on Twitter and Facebook.

Now I’m as special as a snowflake in a blizzard.

But that’s okay because, in retrospect, I was never that special. That old boss was a nerd about comedic movies. Another editor couldn’t quit talking about Steely Dan. I’ve known people who dutifully followed tours of The Grateful Dead and Bruce Springsteen.

Whether you’re devoted to “Downton Abbey” or “Doctor Who,” congratulations, you’re a nerd.

Welcome to the club!

You don’t have to own a fake lightsaber and a replica of Gimli’s helmet from “The Lord of the Rings” to be a proper nerd.

But it doesn’t hurt.

Wes Platt can be reached at or 919-419-6684. Follow on Twitter at @HS_WesPlatt. Connect on Facebook at

By Brody

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