Is it really a surprise that the United States lags behind other countries in terms of academic achievement? After all, we are a nation that often ridicules and marginalizes its “nerds.” In his essay “America Needs Its Nerds,” Leonid Fridman makes a persuasive case that this is precisely why the U.S. falls behind.
Fridman begins by asking a rhetorical question: “How can a country that prides itself on its technological advances be so backward in math and science?” He goes on to argue that it is because we as a society look down on nerds and view them as outcasts. This leads to two problems. First, it means that many bright, talented students are discouraged from pursuing careers in science and math. Second, it leads to a decline in the quality of our educational institutions.
Fridman’s essay is convincing because he backs up his argument with statistics and real-world examples. He also uses emotional appeals to make his case. For instance, he talks about how his own experience as a nerd was often difficult and how he was made to feel like an outsider.
Overall, Fridman makes a strong case that the United States needs to value nerds more if we want to improve our academic standing. This is an important issue that deserves attention.
People around the world need to see that intellectual individuals can do great things for society, instead of only idolizing celebrities and athletes. In “America Needs Its Nerds” by Leonid Fridman, he persuades an audience of intellectuals to value their academic prowess with a logical definition of “Geek,” comparisons outlining the issue’s extent, and rhetorical questions encouraging actions.
In the essay, Fridman defines a “Geek” as somebody who is not very popular, but is extremely intelligent. He states that “Geeks are smart, but they are not cool” (Fridman 1). This means that they are not appreciated for their intelligence in our society. He goes on to say that “Geeks don’t get dates; they get computers” (Fridman 1).
This furthers his point that Geeks are not valued in our society. He also talks about how “Geeks don’t become cheerleaders; they become scientists” (Fridman 1). This shows how Geeks are not given the same opportunities as other people in our society.
Fridman also compares the situation of Geeks in America to that of other countries. He states that “In China, geeks are celebrated” (Fridman 2). This means that in China, intellectuals are given more opportunities and are appreciated more than they are in America. He goes on to say that “In Japan, geeks are admired” (Fridman 2). This shows how in Japan, Geeks are given more opportunities and are respected more than they are in America.
Lastly, Fridman asks a series of rhetorical questions that encourage action from his audience. He asks “What will become of our country if we continue to ignore our geeks?” (Fridman 3). This question makes the reader think about the consequences of not valuing intellectuals in our society. He goes on to say “What will become of our country if we continue to produce more celebrities than scientists?” (Fridman 3). This furthers his point and makes the reader think about how our society is not valuing Geeks enough.
“Geek” was originally a pejorative term used to brand people as odd, strange, or goofy. In his essay, Friedman defines and insults the word “geek” in order to pique readers’ interest and motivate them to act. The Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “geek” as a street performer who bites the heads off live chickens for the sake of shocking the public. “Geeks,” on the other hand, were previously considered dull and uncool. Today, academics would find this definition offensive; it would eventually get their attention.
Friedman then asks a rhetorical question, “Who are the real geeks in America?” He answers his own question by saying that sentence, “The real geeks in America are its nerds.” By using the word “real” he is saying that there are imposters, or people who are not actually geeks, but are just claiming to be. He is saying that the nerds are the true geeks.
Friedman goes on to say that in order for the United States to remain a world power, it needs its nerds. He argues that nerds are essential to society and the economy because they contribute to technological advances. He claims that nerds are “the ones who know how to find the answers to the tough questions.”
Friedman ends his essay by saying that America needs to embrace its nerds, and not try to turn them into jocks. He argues that society should encourage nerds to pursue their passions, and not try to force them into conformity.
He thus compares the United States to East Asia and Harvard intellectuals to athletes in order to demonstrate the pressing need for one to take a position. He focuses on how American intellectuals differ from those in Asia, noting that Asian thinkers are frequently hesitant to present their own intellectual selves because of fear of humiliation.
Harvard, on the other hand, is “a place where people with a passion for ideas can explore them without fear of ridicule.” In other words, in the United States, it is safe to be a nerd.
Fridman’s point is that the United States needs its nerds because they are the ones who will push society forward. He asks a rhetorical question: “Who will write the software that will run our factories and design our automobiles?” Without nerds, he suggests, the United States would grind to a halt. So it is in the country’s best interest to foster an environment in which intellectualism can flourish.
In conclusion, Friedman’s essay is a call to action for America to appreciate its nerds. He argues that they are essential to society and the economy, and that America needs to embrace them, rather than try to turn them into something they’re not.