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Friday, December 9, 2016

The Theory Behind the Nearsighted Geek

     We all know the stereotype of the nerd with coke bottle glasses sitting in the corner with his nose in a book.  He (or she) is extremely intelligent but has no social skills. He only associates with other nerdy types with similar introverted personalities. He's never had a date and doesn't seem to want one.
    I am one of those near sighted geeks. I can relate to people one on one fairly well but put me in a room full of people, especially loud gregarious people, and I am ill at ease. I recently spent an evening with a group of loud, laughing, joking people and had trouble keeping up with the conversation. Although I knew each of these people individually, they seemed to take on completely different personalities when together as a group. They interacted with each other in ways very foreign to me. It was like they shared a rapport that I was not a part of.
     Their ability to interact did not seem to have any correlation to their level of intelligence. Some of these folks are professionals and some are laborers. I think it has more to do with how they learned social skills as young children.
     I will add here that my uncorrected eyesight is 20/400 and I did not start wearing glasses until I was in the fourth grade.  I think my lack of social skills is directly related to my uncorrected poor eyesight as a child.
     So what is the connection between poor vision and introversion?   If you think about it, many people with poor vision were born that way.  Their inability to see well may have only been discovered once they went to school and had eyesight screenings, or had trouble seeing the black board. That means they spent the first 6 or 7 years of their life living in a world where they could only see a few inches in front of their faces.  As babies and toddlers, they could only interact with someone who was in very close physical proximity. Without the ability to see or make eye contact from across a room, it was harder to join into group conversations and play. Their social development was hindered and to compensate, they may have turned inward and developed a rich inward fantasy life, thus the later interest in study and books.  By the time they got older and had their vision corrected, the phase of personality development that gives us the ability to interact in large groups was over and they had missed it. They would forever be behind their peers in social ability.
     I believe that' s how the stereotype of the nearsighted nerd developed. Like all stereotypes, it has a grain of truth in it.  No matter how hard a I try I will never be a social butterfly, but with a little conscious effort and practice I can learn to take action and not be a social wallflower. This is just my theory.  If anyone knows of studies that have been done to prove or disprove it, I would like to hear about them.