About the Manual

The Nerd Manual is meant to be both a useful resource for nerds and a guide for the people involved with nerds. If you're a nerd you can find information here that will help you improve your life and perhaps better understand yourself. If you're close friends with, dating, or married to a nerd, I want to give you insight into things nerds do that a lot of people have difficulty understanding.

I hope to avoid offending anyone--either nerd or non-nerd--but please understand that the manual will get into some sensitive topics, stray into contentious territories, and even use stereotypes to illustrate points. It's OK to disagree with something, but keep your comments civil.


Nerdism: May the Force be with You

KylaBorg - Han Solo

With The Force Awakens coming out soon, you'll hear this phrase a lot, but it's been a major part of nerd culture, and a significant piece of popular culture for nearly forty years now.

Most people realize the origin of "may the Force be with you," even if they haven't seen the Star Wars movies--it's as common as Yoda, Darth Vader and light sabers--but it's worth talking about why this nerdism is such a big deal to nerds, why it resonates across popular culture in general, and why you still don't typically hear a non-nerd saying it.

Pretty much every nerd (even the ones who don't like Star Wars) knows what the Force is. As Obi Wan Kenobi puts it, "...the Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together." People sensitive to the Force could tap into it, and Jedi could use it to accomplish supernatural feats such as moving objects with their minds, but the Force also guides the destiny of people...perhaps the destiny of the entire universe.

Saying, "may the Force be with you," expresses wishes of good will and good luck; not just that the Force will literally be with you (technically it's with every living thing) but that the Force will work in your favor.

While Kenobi's explanation removes any sort of deity from the power of the Force, the phrase still has a religious vibe, similar to, “the Lord be with you,” but even non-Jedi such as Han Solo (who was agnostic to the point of saying, "I've never seen anything to make me believe that there's one all-powerful Force controlling everything") use the phrase to wish good fortune for their comrades. It's a sweeping concept that transcends religion, race and species within the Star Wars universe, and it somehow transcends fiction, breaking into our reality where it manages to cut across our cultural stereotypes.

"May the Force be with you" spread across all strata of popular culture in the late 1970s, simultaneously embraced with sincerity and targeted for parody, but it endured beyond the initial popularity of the first Star Wars trilogy, taking root in our general cultural consciousness to the point where most anyone, even non-English speakers, recognizes the phrase. Still, people don't generally say it in casual conversation, perhaps because it is a bit hokey to quote a quasi-religious blessing from a fictional movie franchise, and it might get you branded as a nerd if you're the first person in a room to say it. For nerds however, “may the Force be with you,” signals more than our membership in the vast Star Wars fandom, it encapsulates our hope that, with proper focus of will, we can influence our own destiny, do amazing things, and perhaps even change the world.

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