Following the first Hobbit panel at Calgary Expo 2013, game developer and actor Wil Wheaton, star of Stand By Me and Star Trek–The Next Generation appeared on stage and answered questions from the fans. FlipOnTV video’d his presentation and made it available for viewing here. Disclaimer: Wheaton utters a couple obscenities.
At the end, a young woman, Jennifer Black-Moir, asked him to tape a message to her newborn daughter, Violet. She wanted Wheaton to explain why it’s awesome to be a nerd. Her recording is here (which is also included at the above link):
Hi, Violet. My name is Wil Wheaton. It’s 2013 and you’ve just recently joined us on planet Earth, so welcome. I’m an actor and I’m a writer and I’m a dad and your mother asked me to tell you why it’s awesome to be a nerd and that’s an easy thing for me to do because that’s who I am. I don’t know what the world’s going to be like by the time you understand this, I don’t know what it’s going to mean to be a nerd when you are a young woman.
For me when I was growing up being a nerd meant that I liked things that were a little weird, that took a lot of effort to appreciate and understand. It meant that I loved science and I loved playing board games and reading books and really understanding what went on in the world instead of just riding the planet through space and when I was a little boy people really teased us about that and made us feel like there was something wrong with us for loving those things.
Now that I’m an adult I’m kind of a professional nerd and the world has changed a lot and I think a lot of us have realized that being a nerd or being a geek is another word you’ll hear and I sort of use the terms interchangeably, it’s not about what you love it’s about how you love it. So there’s going to be a thing in your life that you love and I don’t know what it’s going to be. It might be sports, it might be science, it might be reading, it might be fashion design, it might be building things, it might be telling stories or taking pictures, it doesn’t matter what it is. The way you love that and the way that you find other people who love it the way you do is what makes being a nerd awesome. The defining characteristic of us, the people in this room, and I’m going to ask your mom to turn this camera around in a minute. Go there, go mom.
[Jennifer Black-Moir turns the camera to the audience.]
The defining characteristic that ties us all together is that we love things and some of us love Firefly, and some of us love Game of Thrones and some of us love — these are things you’ll be able to go see, they’re in your history book — and some of us love Star Trek or Star Wars or anime or games or fantasy or science fiction. Some of us love completely different things but we all love those things so much that we travel of thousands of miles, which is probably easy for you but we’re still on fossil fuels I don’t know what you’re going to be on, but it’s difficult. We come from all over, in some cases all over the world, so that we can be around people who love the things that we love the way that we love them and that’s why being a nerd is awesome. And don’t ever let anybody tell you that that thing that you love is a thing that you can’t love. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t love that, that’s for boys, you have to love this because you’re a girl. You find the things that you love and you love them the most that you can.
And listen, this is really important: I want you to be honest, honorable, kind, I want you to work hard because everything worth doing is hard, and I want you to be awesome. And I’m going to do my very best to leave you a planet that you can still live on. Have a great life.
After Wil’s speech went viral on the internet, he posted a response on his blog, here. “As it turns out, I’ve been having that conversation with my sons for their entire lives,” he writes.
Alexandra Petri of The Washington Post praised Wheaton for his brilliant talk and wrote about it in her article, “Are Nerd and Geek the Same? Wil Wheaton’s Inspiring Nerd Manifesto,” posted on April 30, 2013 at 8:15 a.m.
Inspiring, indeed. Thank you, Wil.