We’ve long heard the warnings from everyone growing up. “Don’t treat anybody badly,” your parents would say, “you never know who might grow up to be your boss.” It’s always been assumed that it’s not the kids wearing the best jeans, but the kid with the best genes who will be nailing up plaques in their spectacular office one day. Still, nerds should rejoice today after the findings of a new book that states that not only are they more successful financially, they end up becoming better people.
The book, The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth by reporter Alexandra Robbins, argues that everything that makes kids popular, is actually what tears them down and makes them miserable in adulthood. Conforming, aggression, and being as visible as possible seem like a great way to get to the top in high school, but ultimately, Robbins argues, this is a poor way to live as an adult. Robbins also makes the assertion that there’s a distinct difference between perceived popularity and actually popularity, which there definitely is some truth to.
Think about it. You may think people like you, or even envy you, and you may have since high school. But ultimately this position on top of the social hierarchy isn’t the same as people actually liking you, and Robbins says that not being thought of as top dog in high school helps you achieve the latter later in life. You’re less likely to be arrogant and more likely to be affectionate.
Robbins even has high profile examples, like Steven Spielberg, Taylor Swift, and Bruce Springsteen. What she neglects here is that these “outsiders” (as she calls them) also had significant talent lurking underneath their surface. She even mentions Lady Gaga, which bothers me because let’s face it, she’s still a freak no matter how you slice it, successful or not.
But one big question remains for me, that perhaps I’ll have to read the full book to figure out. Is this a true case-study, unbiased and not relying on Robbins’ opinions of high school at all? Or is this simply a former nerd trying to pump up her nerd buddies now out in the real world?
If anything, it seems like a good book, and worth the read. So nerds rejoice! Go out and get a beer, or break out your calculators, or whatever geeks do in large groups to celebrate. Just remember, don’t go conforming or else you’ll be in danger of becoming just another unhappy grown-up popular kid.