Some nerds and geeks feel very strongly about the difference between the two. It’s useful to know the difference so you don’t offend anyone.
The common element is that nerds and geeks are unashamedly enthusiastic about their interests. The main difference is that geeks are into things, while nerds are into ideas.
Consider Star Wars. A Star Wars geek is more likely to collect all the action figures and model spaceships to recreate the movies. A Star Wars nerd is more likely to read all the books, and so get super-familiar with the mythology beyond the movies. A Star Wars geek plays all the video games. A Star Wars nerd is the one making the video games (programming, etc.).
If you asked a “regular person,” they’d probably say that both nerds and geeks are lacking in social skills, although they’ll eventually end up on top of the social ladder. This is half right.
Since geeks follow things, they tend to catch on to the things that the public is into. As a result, they end up with passable social skills. Nerds follow the ideas behind the things. They can interact with their own kind, but they’re not so much fun at non-nerd parties.
Geeks come up with the cool new thing and make a fortune selling it. Think Steve Jobs. Nerds, on the other hand, pursue the ideas behind the things. Some of them come up with great ideas and make a fortune off of them. Think Mark Zuckerberg. But other nerds will just be working in the IT department. They are also super-important and probably make a decent amount of money, but they don’t have the high social status that geeks and some nerds have.
Some people consider it offensive to call anyone a nerd or a geek, regardless of the distinction. Really, nerd is not a good insult at all, but it is stereotyping. That’s why it’s good to look into specifically what nerds and geeks are.
Christians are called to understand people, so we can show love to them. If you want to reach out to a nerd or a geek, understanding their interests will help. This blog can help make some of those connections.