Occasionally I teach class to kids and adults. Mostly on how to use illustration markers and 99% of the time this is a great way to make some extra cash. Recently I went to a rural area only to find I had two students, neither of which had any interest in drawing and specifically one kid who was a complete tool. Now to be fair- he was 12, and only there because the class was free through the library. You can’t win them all and my class the day before had been jam packed and a lot of fun. So I decided to grin and bare it.
The boy in question was a nerd, and so I tried to make conversation about the types of things he liked to draw, “Aliens? Robots? Super hereos?” But no, he pretty much just wanted to talk to me about Minecraft. “Oh yeah, I’ve played that.” I said, and I have. I didn’t particularly care for it as I tend to gravitate toward story heavy gaming. But this piqued his interest. He looked shocked and almost indignant. “YOU play video games?” This was a common conversation I had in 9th grade, but not really anymore. But again- he’s 12. The concept that I- an old person (I could be 50 for all he knew) -would enjoy his favorite pastime seemed to ignite some sort of classist rage. He drew one of the baddies from Minecraft on his paper and thrust it at me, “What’s this?” he asked. And by “asked” I mean he demanded I answer him. Somehow my nerd cred was on trial. “Oh yeah, it’s like a zombie or something, right?” I laughed and tried to keep this on task. “It’s a ‘CREEPER’.” he said, and I swear to God… the most smug, self satisfied grin I have ever seen spread across this kid’s face. He had beat me, he had proven I don’t know anything about video games and his ego was satiated. I stared blankly, sort of offended, but I just brushed it off as him being a brat.
Later I was showing them how to blend two colors together and I absentmindedly drew a heart. “See,” he interrupted. As if this was somehow a continuation of our previous conversation, “why did you have to draw that? Why couldn’t you have drawn a a sword or an axe or something?” I was pretty much just drawing a shape, and had not given it another thought. I just stared at him- he was the biggest brat I had ever had the misfortune of teaching. I gave up and said, “Because I’m a girl.” and ignored him until the end of the session.
But as I was packing up, I realized something. The people who enrage me on the internet, talking about “nerd cred”… it’s this kid. He is the embodiment of that mindset. Not evil, nor malicious in any way, just a dumb kid who doesn’t know any better. Whose still trying to fit into middle school and desperate to carve out a niche that’s his own. That’s why “nerd cred” is so important- because they’re young kids still working this shit out.
Surprisingly, this made me feel a lot better.
…not to mention the little dumb ass failed to recognize Aeris and Red XIII in the drawing I gave him to color. Douche.