Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Fighting to Unite the Modern World of Nerds

During the 2012 Olympics, British gymnast Jennifer Pinches flashed a hand sign that means nothing to most people. She separated her fingers on both hands in the style of “Star Trek’s” Spock and then crossed her arms. To a small, though constantly growing, segment of the Internet, she did one of the coolest things ever: She announced to the world that she’s a nerdfighter.

“nerdfighter” is a fan of John and Hank Green, two brothers who make YouTube videos. In one video, a nerdfighter is defined as “a person who, instead of being made of bones and skin and tissue, is made entirely of awesome.”

You might recognize John’s name because he’s a bestselling novelist: 2012’s The Fault in Our Stars was Time magazine’s Book of the Year. Hank runs the environmental blog Ecogeek. Together on their YouTube channel, Vlogbrothers, they’ve made hundreds of videos.

It started in 2007 when they embarked on a project called Brotherhood 2.0. They realized their communication was limited to infrequent phone calls, emails and instant messages, so they decided to make public videos to each other every day for a whole year. In that year, a community of nerdy fans whose rallying cry is DFTBA – Don’t Forget to Be Awesome – was born. At the end of the year, they decided to keep going, though no longer on a daily basis.

Since then, they’ve branched out. They run a conference – VidCon – for the videomakers of YouTube. They have a YouTube channel, CrashCourse, where they teach history, literature and science, and another channel, SciShow, where Hank talks about updates in science.

And there are projects they don’t do together. Hank is part of the team behind “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries,” a web series that sets Pride and Prejudice in the present day, and is currently in the middle of adapting Emma.

In one of my favorite videos, John answers the question: “I’m a college freshman. How the hell do I figure out what to do with my life?” John challenges the question itself; adulthood, he says, isn’t doing one thing forever.

His advice? “Study broadly and without fear … but most importantly, try to surround yourself with people you like and make cool stuff with them. In the end, at least in my experience, what you do isn’t going to be nearly as important as who you do it with.” When I first watched this video, it was exactly the advice I needed to hear, and it got me hooked on John and Hank’s incredible videos, which are full of humor, wisdom and unabashed nerdiness.

John has a video where he answers romantic questions, and most of his advice involves him yelling, “Use your words!” – the perfect romantic advice. There’s one where Hank speaks frankly about how hard it is to live with ulcerative colitis, a video that made my friend who suffers from a similar illness cry because someone else understood. There’s one where John talks about how terrifying the years after college were, another where he talks about being depressed at 24 and how watching the movie Harvey helped him sort things out. (You should go watch it. It’s the perfect way to start to break a rut.)

Often, we complain that the Internet is putting barriers between us and keeping us from connecting with each other, and sometimes it is. But John and Hank are basically the opposite of that. They’re using the Internet to connect with people in authentic, interesting ways.

John once said, “When people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is, ‘You like stuff,’ which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘You are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness.'” That’s what John and Hank are – they’re nerds who are spreading that enthusiasm to anyone with an Internet connection.

In The Fault In Our Stars, John wrote, “Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” This is not only the way I feel about The Fault In Our Stars, but also the way I feel about Vlogbrothers videos. If you’re feeling great, if you’re feeling awful – watch a four minute video and you’ll see things a little differently.

Victoria Edel is a senior in the College. This is the final appearance of GIRL MEETS WORLD this semester.

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