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How to be a Nerdfighter

Elisa DeCastro | Thursday, October 6, 2011

Hello, fellow ND students. Chances are that you, like me, are a huge nerd — and I mean that in the best way possible. Being a nerd simply means that you are passionate about something, whether it’s language, science, art, sports or, hey, Notre Dame. But are you a Nerdfighter?

First, a definition: a Nerdfighter is someone who, instead of being made of skin and bones and organs is made entirely of awesome. Nerdfighters are a kind of superhero — they use their passion to make the world a better place. The term is also used to describe the community that sprang up around the Vlogbrothers YouTube channel.

Vlogbrothers is a video blog project started by John and Hank Green more than four years ago. It began as a year-long experiment called Brotherhood 2.0 in which they agreed not to communicate by textual means (e-mail, texting, etc.) and instead take turns posting videos every weekday.

The Vlogbrothers are John and Hank Green — both nerds in their own right. Hank started the environmental technologies website EcoGeek.org, and John is the Printz Award-winning, bestselling author of young adult novels including “Looking for Alaska” and “Paper Towns.” Their videos range from songs about anglerfish, quirks and Harry Potter to philosophical insights into society; from tirades about the inefficiencies of pennies and front lawns to analyses of political struggles around the world.

One of my favorite things about the Vlogbrothers, though, is how they use their internet following to benefit a wide variety of social causes. For instance, Nerdfighters have raised over $60,000 for Kiva.org, which helps people living in poverty start their own businesses.

Sound interesting? You, too, can be a Nerdfighter in just five steps! (Steps 1 and 2 optional, but highly recommended.)

1) Check out the Vlogbrothers on YouTube. They’ve collected some of their best videos (out of 880+) into playlists, and new ones go up every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If they don’t post, they must perform a punishment of the Nerdfighters’ choosing, like eat a blenderized McDonalds happy meal. Those have their own playlist, if schadenfreude’s your thing.

2) Learn the lingo. Now that you know what “Nerdfighter” means, you can incorporate it into your everyday life. Other essential phrases: “french the llama” and “DFTBA” (“Don’t forget to be awesome”).

3) Decrease “world suck.” Get involved! Check out Kiva.org and the Project for Awesome for ideas or find service opportunities around campus.

4) Increase awesome. Write a book, discover a new species, build a time machine — or just put stuff on your head and do a funny dance. (What? It’s fun!) Big or small, find some way to share your nerdy passions with the world.

Congratulations! You are now a Nerdfighter. Go forth and use your powers for good.

Oh, and don’t forget Step 5: DFTBA.


Contact Elisa DeCastro at edecastr@nd.edu

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.