Friday, March 23, 2012

Nerd Appeal

Becoming part of the Nerdfighter community is perhaps the most interesting aspect of vlogbrother culture. Typically when someone becomes part of a community, she is either born into that community, or she is required to fill a list of prerequisite qualifications in order to gain membership to that community. I often see the latter form of community inclusion in the context of my college experience, when, at the beginning of each semester, hundreds of hopeful girls rush the sorority of their choice. Processes like these are extensive and exclusive; the existing members of the community choose whether you are able to join based on a series of qualifications, like where you’re from, what your interests are, or who you have contacts with. This is where the Nerdfighter community is unique. There is only one qualification for becoming a Nerdfighter: you have to want to become a Nerdfighter. This community acts more like Facebook—as long as you have an email address, you can create an account with DFTBA Records or even get involved in the social networking site on Nerfighters.com. Or your participation in the community could be as minimal as simply watching the vlogbrothers YouTube videos. If you call yourself a Nerdfighter, you are one.

It is this inclusivity that both Nerdfighters and non-Nerdfighters seem to think is what makes Nerdfighteria so appealing to a wide range of people. I asked a member of the Nerdfighter community, my friend Taylor, some questions regarding her involvement in Nerdfighteria. Taylor began watching vlogbrothers in 2009, two years after Brotherhood 2.0 made the Green brothers a YouTube phenomenon. She has read all of John Green’s books, attended the 2012 Tour de Nerdfighting, has met John and Hank and the Katherine, and she is subscribed to many of the vlogbrothers partner channels (such as charlieissocoollike, nerimon, crashcourse, etc.). When I asked her what she believes makes Nerdfighteria appealing to so many people, she responded by saying, “I believe that Nerdfighteria is so appealing to people because it has a place for anyone who wants to belong there.” 

As a Nerdfighter, I can attest to Taylor’s theory. People involved in Nerdfighteria are incredibly diverse. The vlogbrothers audience is represented by six continents. No two Nerdfighters are the same. Some are interested in literature, some in music, and some are interested in visual art. There are so many diverse interests, and the Green brothers, as well as the community as a whole, do a relatively good job at covering a variety of interests. 

I conducted an interview with my classmate, Logan, who was unfamiliar with the vlogbrothers community until I familiarized him with the culture. During our interview I explained to Logan Brotherhood 2.0, vlogbrothers, nerdfighters.com, and DFTBA records. He seemed interested in the project, saying, “I think it’s really cool what they’re doing.” I asked him what he thought made vlogbrothers appealing to so many people, and he responded by saying, “They have such a huge audience... because they’re in so many different medias. They cover broad interests.” He referred to a vlogbrothers video I showed him that involved John Green talking about some people he knew in college, during which John referred to several different forms of media including literature, photography, and film. This singular video was enough to show Logan how diverse Nerdfighteria could be. When I asked him if he would consider becoming part of Nerdfighteria after learning more about it, to which he responded, “Yeah, it’s really interesting... it sounds like there’s something for everybody there.” 

So it seems as though the reason people like Nerdfighteria is because they are welcome there no matter what their interests are.

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