“I think all Nerdfighters are role models. But I don’t think we should be role models in boring ways.” (April 10, 2007: Role Models)
Today I’m writing about something I’m passionate about: Nerdfighteria.
Nerdfighteria began with John Green, a young adult novelist, and Hank Green, who runs an environmental technology website. In 2007, brothers John and Hank Green started the Brotherhood 2.0 project. The deal was that they were going to spend an entire year of textless communication. That meant no instant messages and no emails. The video blog was their main form of communication. As the year progressed, they started to gain fans. That’s where I came in.
I started watching the Vlogbrothers in April 2007. A search for one author, Libba Bray, took me to the site of another author, Maureen Johnson, which led to a Youtube search for John Green. The first video I saw was from April 18, 2007, “Prom and Consequences.” I subscribed because it was the only vlog by a young adult author that I knew about (keep in mind that this was 2007 – there are many young adult authors that keep vlogs now in 2010), it was incredibly funny and the “textless communication” intro interested me (partly because I was sixteen and couldn’t imagine going ten minutes without texting anyone). The videos were entertaining enough to wait around for the next one, but I had no idea that was becoming so attached to the Nerdfighting community until I tried to explain it to my friends and found that I couldn’t. I couldn’t explain how these videos made me see the world in a different light, or how videos that contained happy dances and a man eating toilet paper could also provide valuable information.
Nerdfighters was the name given to the fans of the videos. They work on decreasing World Suck. World Suck is whatever is wrong with the world: global warming, injustices, poverty, and the like. There’s no secret initiation, no robe-wearing elders standing on an altar. If you want to be a Nerdfighter, you are one. Nerdfighters are what made this community feel real. I was just a girl watching a series of videos. But when the title Nerdfighters came up, that’s when it felt like I was part of a club – albeit, a virtual club.
The Vlogbrothers continued vlogging after the year of textless communication was up. They stuck true to their mantra: DFTBA – Don’t Forget To Be Awesome. Hank Green teamed up with Alan Lastufka, the man who literally wrote the book on making it on Youtube, and co-owns DFTBA Records with him. It’s a record company that signs Youtube artists. Hank Green has also recorded two albums. There’s the Project for Awesome, in which John and Hank and other Nerdfighters take over Youtube to promote charities once a year. When the earthquake in Haiti occurred, the brothers teamed up with the Harry Potter Alliance to raise enough money to send five planes full of supplies. (The planes were named: Harry, Hermione, Ron, DFTBA and Dumbledore.) Earlier this summer, they organized a video conference, which brought together other prominent Youtube personalities and their fans. These are just a couple of examples of the awesome things they’ve been able to achieve through their vlog and with their fans, but believe me, they’ve done so much more.
John and Hank Green are part of the reason why I have this internship. They’re all about helping others and accepting yourself. It’s okay to be a nerd. It’s okay to jump in your seat impatiently while you wait for the next Harry Potter movie to begin. It’s okay to be yourself. However, we should always remember that we’re not the only people in the world. Also, we’re not just mere passersby in the world. We should help the world, both its people and the Earth. Before them, I was an incredibly selfish teenager. I used my strengths to benefit me and only me. I never considered how my actions could affect others because anyone that wasn’t me just wasn’t important. But they inspired me to be a better person. Weeks after I started to watch their videos, I struggled to think of ways to help others. I wanted to offer the world something, but I didn’t know what. I finally decided to stick with what I liked to do- writing. I briefly wrote for a newsletter for battered women. When that stopped publishing, I joined RadicalParenting.com. Now I’m communicating with all of you. Once a month I try to shed light on what it means to be a teenager in the United States, in the year 2010. And I hope that helps.
I also hope that the Vlogbrothers continue to make videos for a long time so they’ll be able to inspire others to change themselves and the world for the better.