iPods Make Being A Nerd Cool

When I woke up this past Christmas morning to discover that my mom had hooked me up with an iPod, I thought for sure that I was the man. I opened the cool artsy square packaging and was instantly filled with an incredible sense of elitism. I had almost made it. All I now needed was a Blackberry and a record deal, and I’d be straight.

Unfortunately, once I walked outside of my apartment later that day I realized that everyone got an iPod for Christmas. Very disheartening. Later I bought a very fashionable shirt, which helped. I still love my iPod, but it’s really hard to find something all that special when everyone else has it as well.

Hence I would never buy a “New Jersey: where the weak are killed and eaten” tee-shirt from Urban Outfitters, or a throwback jersey for that matter; those are hot, but once my eight year old cousin wants something, I can usually tell it’s played out. Whereas you could say, “Oh, everyone wore a trucker cap last summer,” and it would be true, saying everyone has an iPod now that the gifting season has passed is more akin to saying, “Everyone has a central nervous system.”

Just as I’m rather certain that everyone I see walking across campus has a pancreas, it seems everyone now has the tell-tale porcelain colored apple earphones. And it’s not just us young, hip, and sane people either. Real weirdos also seem to have acquired iPods somehow, to listen to their Tom Waits music, or their “classic video game soundtrack” play lists.

Now, I do take some solace in the fact that no one has an iPod as cool as mine. Mine is the coolest because it’s got the best music on it; and because it’s the new kind – not the old kind; and because it’s mine, which immediately increases the value (witness the benefit of a smug sense of superiority at work). But still, my demand to feel special has not been placated by my Christmas gift, and for this I blame all of you who also wanted iPods.

It seems in the last few years the line between nerd and cool has blended to a point where it is almost nonexistent. Argyle has become popular among people who are neither blind nor over fifty. Napoleon Dynamite is quoted by all of the kids who used to take his lunch money. It seems the only people that are still really, really not cool are the ones who play in magic card tournaments on weekend nights and people that write things for publication on the Internet about Star Wars. That’s it.

Otherwise, we’re all a large mass of very nervous youngsters who used to know their place in the world. Take for example this statement I made yesterday: “The coolest thing about my iPod is that it’s a 40 gig iPod, as opposed to the 10 or 20 gig. That means it’s bigger, and as a result can carry more blazing hip-hop and R&B.” If I heard this coming out of someone’s mouth in middle school I would have held them upside down and shaken them until their money fell out of their pocket.

I used to make fun of my friends who played video games or knew how many gig’s their computers were, comparing them to the stereotypical “audio-visual club member.” All that has now changed in the days of the iPod. You need to know how many gigs you have. I’ve got 40. That makes me amongst the coolest.

I don’t know how I feel about this blending of the lines. I don’t know which way the wind is blowing when my role models always show off their video games proudly on MTV Cribs. But I definitely know that although my iPod is extremely cool, technically at least, owning one and liking it as much as I do makes me a nerd. And I’m ok with that. I was kind of a secret nerd in high school anyway, so for me this is a path already traveled. But now I’ve got a much better soundtrack.