Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Nerd Alert: Stop the Bullying


It’s a name you’re most likely proud of today. Most of us who go into science embrace the fact that we’re nerds because we love the field, and we have an appreciation for the many great things that come out of it.

Across the country, however, there are kids being called nerds for all the wrong reasons. Like generations before them, kids today have to put up with shots at their sexual orientation, economic status, appearance, and academic interests.

We can change this. Today is National Stop Bullying Day, and as happy, successful, grown-up nerds, we can show that there’s nothing bad about an interest in science.

For one, we can stand up as role models. We can show that our academic interests carried on through elementary, middle, and high school – no matter what people might have said – and flourished into successful careers. Bullies’ talents for calling people names can’t flourish into careers (unless they go into politics or punditry, I guess).

We can also help today’s nerds by speaking up for the value of what we’ve accomplished. Medical and health research especially have the power to change and save lives. There’s nothing funny about that. And even if some people don’t find science interesting, or would never want to associate themselves with nerds, they at least respect the fact that nerds have made our world a better, safer, and healthier place.

Lastly, we can do our part to advocate for the nerd work of tomorrow. Whether young nerds go into healthcare, policy, or – you guessed it – research, we have a responsibility to make opportunities for them so that they, too, can prove their bullies wrong.

So today, while you go about your lab or office, think about what it means to be a nerd. Then think about what might have happened to those people who called you a nerd to hurt you. When you’re done, you’ll probably agree that bullying is no way to live your life or contribute to society. For everyone’s sake – not just the nerds’ – it’s time for the bullying to stop.

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