Monday, June 7, 2010

The Teenaged Bully's Hand Guide to Insults

(A sarcastic peice I turned in for English class)

The cherished American tradition of picking on unpopular people is alive and well in today’s high schools. The most general term for these social outcasts is “dork”, of which there are several sub-categories and specifications. But alas, the distinction between these types of dorks are not well known among teenagers, evidencing the ineptitude of our school systems. It is critical that bullies everywhere are supplied with the correct repertoire of insults; if bullies give the wrong insult to the wrong type of dork, they risk being viewed as unintelligent oafs! In fact, misspeaking ones dork labels could even lead to being labeled a dork oneself. So in an attempt to produce savvier bullies, this essay will endeavor to explain these important distinctions.

The most general insult for anyone not deemed “cool” by their peers is a dork. Since this term is so vague, it is rarely ever used as an insult today, save only by the least creative of bullies. Rather, more specific terms explaining why the targeted teen is a dork are more heavily favored. There could be dozens of reasons for dork determination, but generally dorks may be classified into one of five overlapping categories: geeks, nerds, dweebs, losers, and weirdoes. Each of these categories can be identified by a prototypical physical appearance, wardrobe, behavioral quirks, likely school activities or other variables. Just like rectangles and squares, not all dorks fall into one of these generalizations, but all of these personas are assuredly dorks.

The first type of dork is a geek, someone whose dork status is explained by a passionate interest or hobby not shared by the geek’s peers. This hobby is not likely to be anything considered intriguing, impressive, or cool by mainstream society; people with strong interests in sports, for example are likely to receive a more popular title (in this instance, jocks). Various genres include band geeks, star trek geeks, video game geeks, or computer geeks. While appearance will vary based on this field of interest, most will wear glasses, beat up sneakers, turtlenecks, or wrinkled t-shirts supporting their area of interest. Unlike some other classes of dork, geeks are likely to openly admit their geekiness in said area; examples include the “Geek Squad” of computer repairmen who drive around in self-labeled cars. School activities will doubtlessly incorporate this hobby as well, either academically or via extracurriculars; band geeks join the marching band, computer geeks take programming electives, and male choir geeks (much more readily ridiculed than their female counterparts) join the glee club.

A nerd is a sub-division of geek whose feverish area of interest is academic study. Nerds are by far the most intelligent types of dorks, and they take great pride in their brainy pursuits, usually hailing from families that stress academic achievement. Naturally, such behavior comes at the expense of social interaction, and the most likely person a nerd might have a conversation with is their teacher. One common branch of nerd is the called the teacher’s pet, identified by a tendency to raise his hand in class and do various favors for the instructor. A nerd often sports wispy hair and is wont to wear suspenders (Steve Urkle is a classic example), short shorts, striped tube socks, t-shirts that are far too big, a pocket protector, and tighty-whities. Nerds tend to be bookworms, immersing themselves in both non-fiction works and especially fantasy books, involving dwarves, elves, wizards, dragons, and the like. Additionally, nerdy passion for fantasy worlds often combines with nerdy love of science to procure obsessions with science fiction. For this reason, if you find a dork riding to school on a segway, he or she is probably a nerd. In school activities are strictly limited to academic study, and extracurriculars are only permitted if they involve some form of mental challenge: popular nerd hangouts include chess club, speech and debate team, and the academic team. After school, further mental exercise is sought, sometimes in the form of minesweeper or Sudoku.

Dweebs are another sub-category of dork, classified exclusively by specific bodily or visual characteristics. These physical traits may include a constantly running nose, a whiny and irritable voice, excessive acne, greasy or unkempt hair, being fat, or being scrawny. Wardrobe is likely to include socks with sandals, braces, shorts that are too short, ear-warmers, fanny-packs, and perfectly circular glasses. Geeks and nerds may also have some or even all of these visual characteristics; as mentioned, there is often overlap between the five categories of dork. But distinctions prevail: nerd glasses are more likely to be square bifocals to aid in the close-range book studying, while dweebs prefer the Harry-Potter style circular frames. Extracurricular activities include the yearbook club (a transparent attempt to appear connected with the rest of the student body), and after school dweebs love to hide from face-to-face interaction by devoting themselves to videogames or computer games. Dweeb’s often overlap with nerds in their passion for fantasy worlds, which combined with the aforementioned interest makes World of Warcraft a treasured dweeb pastime.

Losers are somewhat separate from the above three categories, and much less likely to overlap. Pressure to excel is fierce in today’s society, and humans envy those lucky individuals who seem to be good at everything. Certain kids are just superb athletes, who get great grades, have romantic prowess, etc. Simply put, losers are the opposite. Losers seem to fail at whatever venture they endeavor. This unfortunate fact makes losers unique among dorks. They do not get good grades, or else they’d be a nerd; they do not excel in one specific area of interest, or else they’d be a geek. Rather, losers are poor students, worse athletes, even worse at making friends, and downright pathetic at wooing the opposite sex. Physically losers will be ugly, and their clothes will likely clash or be mismatched. The type of in-school activities or extracurriculars a loser might futilely engage in cannot be specified, but rest assured that whatever it is, the loser will fail in the attempt. After school they’re liable to drown their sorrows by collecting action figures or playing Dungeons and Dragons. Naturally this is accompanied by a severe lack of confidence, which in turn affects the loser’s physical appearance. Losers shuffle their feet, speak quietly, look down at the ground to avoid eye contact, make themselves look smaller to avoid being noticed and called on in class, or take other actions to avoid any incidence where their abilities might be tested in public. In fact, avoiding attention at their failures may be the only thing losers are skilled at doing. Much debate has arisen among dork scholars regarding the nature of this lack of confidence. Some veteran bullies insist that losers were unconfident in their abilities long before they ever began teasing them, whilst others brag that incessant public humiliation of losers is what caused the dearth of confidence and ensuing ineptitude in the first place. Regardless of where the reader stands on this chicken-and-the-egg paradigm, one may rest assured that bullies play an integral part in creating and furthering self consciousness, a role that will only be expanded now that the reader can identify a loser.

The final classical category of dork is a weirdo, which is a difficult definition to nail down. Weirdoes may fit into the above categories as well, but this is merely by chance. In order to be a true weirdo one must exhibit a certain odd, unorthodox, or eccentric characteristic that separates and alienates the weirdo from his peers. A weirdo may have bright green, spiked hair, for instance; based solely on first impression, many would hesitate to approach such a person or pursue a friendship with them. Other variables may elicit a similar response. Perhaps the weirdo is in some way disabled, has a speaking disorder so that he or she slurs his or her words. Maybe the weirdo talks to himself, or has body odor, or is a male with egregiously long fingernails, or has lice, or is pregnant. Weirdoes may have an odd obsession with a person or thing, like Elvis, perhaps, or President Carter, or carrots. The possibilities are endless. Because of this innumerable variety of weirdo types, it is impossible to nail down a specific physical appearance, wardrobe, behavior, or school activities to associate with the term. But without question, whatever those things are, they will be weird. Unfortunately, unusual sexuality or the misplaced suspicion of it also falls under this category. Indeed, the root word of weirdo is weird, which is a synonym for queer. If the cause of a boy’s social isolation is that he wears skintight bike shorts and is on the cheerleading and dance teams, or the nature of a girl’s social isolation is that she has a goatee and plays on the wrestling team, weirdo would be the appropriate insult. The phrase has the added benefit of avoiding LGBT confusion by generalizing them all under one term. This way, bullies don’t have to worry about accidentally offending anyone.

With these distinctions established, today’s bully is equipped to deliver his insults with pinpoint accuracy. The noble art of demeaning, teasing, insulting, attacking, pestering, bothering, annoying, irking and peeving others for personal entertainment can only be effectively practiced with an informed vocabulary. Clarifying the distinctions between various bullying lingo aids in this pursuit. While the above list is incomplete and the definitions not extensive, they should provide a solid nucleus of bullying knowledge and enable easier dork identification.

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