Saturday, October 5, 2013

Why Nerds Should Care About Politics and the News

It is a rainy and muggy Saturday here in Conway, AR and considering the federal government is still in shutdown, I think it is a good time to write about why there should be more political interest among nerds.
I recently overheard a conversation at the comic and games shop where I work. The conversation was about the government shutdown and those discussing were playing D&D. It began with the wizard asking about what caused the shutdown, citing her lack of interest in the news, the paladin responded, incorrectly, saying it was about the debt ceiling and then the rogue mentioned, with little detail, his distaste for the Affordable Care Act. This isn't an uncommon conversation as many people are confused or disinterested in political happenings. However, I will make this request of my nerdy brothers and sisters, read the news!
It is generally agreed upon that modern nerds are people with a strong and somewhat obsessive interest in a particular subject. The subject can vary greatly but there are two standard traits, knowledge and enthusiasm. Nerds read the rulebooks and study sports statistics. Nerds follow specialty news religiously seeking out new information on their subject. Nerds are involved in discussions and communities of their chosen subject. All of these things nerds are good at are so important to good political discourse. Anyone who has time to study Magic cards for hours or create a new D&D module can handle learning what is going on with the federal government. However, we as nerds seem to fall into this pit of only focusing on our main interests and ignoring the issues not directly affecting us. This apathy is far from exclusive to nerds, but as the self designated smart and enthusiastic people, do we not have an obligation to want to make things better for everyone?
While I complain about a lack of involvement from nerds, I must point out that when something they love is threatened they jump into action. Just think back to when everyone was fighting against SOPA. Even now, the outrage about the spying
NSA is prevalent among political concerns for nerds. What I want to see is that kind of fervor over every political issue, not just the ones that hurt the internet. What is going on in Washington affects everyone and it warrants some attention. I know we can do it, we just have to try. We have to be excited about what we can do for the world and we have to share the knowledge we attain with each other.
I love nerds. I love talking for hours about comics, playing lengthy sessions of D&D, and I love escaping into fantastic fictional universes, but I want to improve the world I am in. I know that as a citizen, I have an obligation to vote and to help my community. We as nerds must step out of our immediate interests into the realm of improving the world for everyone. Read the news, vote in every election, serve the community.

-Peter