Pre-Internet, nerds were a lonely bunch. A chap with a hankering for rare Japanese-imports of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” could only hope that someone at his local record store shared his obsession. A lady with a penchant for Coca-Cola collectibles had to rely on constant trips to the weekly flea market.
Now, finding someone who shares your eccentricities and outré obsessions is a simple Google or hashtag search away.
I’m speaking not so much about the classic Nerd: computers, taped glasses, Star Trek conventions. More broadly, I mean anyone who obsesses about something to a somewhat socially awkward degree. In this way, most of us are nerdy about something: music, sports, beer, cats.
I’ve personally moved through a number of nerdy exploits, from Dungeons & Dragons to independent music to bicycles to obscure contemporary literature, and my latest obsession: typography.
And more specifically, traditional typographic practices like hand lettering, chalkboard illustration, and letterpress.
When I first started sketching letters last July, I wasn’t surprised so much to find how easy it was to get started, but how easy it was to find others doing the same thing. I started a Tumblr and started posting my lettering exercises on Instagram with the hashtag #handlettering.
I searched Hashgr.am for the same hashtag and started following amazing artists like Jessica Hische, Pete Adams, and local artist, Joey Ponce, who has quickly become one of my new favorite people in Indy. In just four months, I’ve found and become a part of an encouraging and inspiring community of type-nerds that wouldn’t have been possible just a few years ago.
There’s been a lot of chatter lately about whether the Internet is making us lonelier. I just don’t see it. In my experience, the Web has been the launch pad of some of my closest friendships through my obsessions with bands or literature or bikes.
My experience echoes Mathew Ingram at BusinessWeek who responds: “If anything, online connections tend to spark or promote real-world connections. I have met dozens, possibly even hundreds of people I wouldn’t know except for Twitter, had spontaneous coffee meetings thanks to Foursquare check-ins, and made countless other connections between the online and offline world.”
The Internet has created a place for everyone now; it’s just about knowing what search term best describes your obsession. So, what’s your hashtag? What are you nerdy about?
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