Wil Wheaton: His heart-warming advice for bullied nerds

Wil Wheaton: How did the actor handle a question about being bullied as a child? Check out Wil Wheaton's response and how one mom dealt with a similar situation.

screenshot/YouTube
Wil Wheaton at Comic Con Denver 2013 offering advice to nerds.

Wil Wheaton's early claim to fame was playing a kid – a bit of nerd, actually – on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" television series.

Today, he blogs, appears at Comic Con events, and has a sporadic role, as himself, on "The Big Bang Theory," a comedy based on nerds.

In short, Wheaton knows the world of geek – and the pain of bullying.

So, it's not too surprising that a video of his heart-warming response – at Denver's Comic Con 2013 –  to a question about being bullied is going viral. Here's what he said, in part:

"When I was a little boy I was called a nerd all the time because I did not like sports, I loved to read, I liked math and science, and I thought school was really cool. And it hurt, a lot," Wheaton said. "Because it's never okay when a person makes fun of you for something you didn't choose. We don't choose to be nerds. We can't help it that we like these things. And we shouldn't apologize for liking these things.... Don't let them make you feel bad because you love something."

"When a person is cruel to you, it has nothing to do with you.... It's about them feeling bad about themselves. They feel sad. They don't get positive attention from their parents. They don't feel as smart as you. They don't understand the things that you understand," he said.

... "And I'll tell you this, it absolutely does get better when you get older."

Here's how one mom handled a similar situation, when her gifted son returned home from preschool after being called a nerd:

My first instinct, as any mother worth her salt will admit, was to hunt down that scoundrel Ricky and berate him. Then common sense kicked in and I felt terrible. Jimmy's heart was broken and mine was following suit.

"Why would he do that? I thought he was your friend," I said.

"I knew the answer to something no one else did. My teacher called on me, and I didn't even have my hand raised. Then Ricky called me a nerd!"

I wrapped my arms around him and hugged him tight. We sat that way for a little while before an idea occurred to me.

Then, she Googled Bill Gates.

"This guy is what we called a nerd when Mom was a kid."

"Oh," he said with a furrow between his brows.

"Do you know what he grew up to be?"

"No."

"The richest person in America," I said, having no idea he had recently been deposed to second richest, but who cares? I made my point.

"What?" he said with eyes wide.

"Yep. Billions of dollars belong to him."

"Wow. I wouldn't mind having billions of dollars," he said with a smile.

She did the same with Barack Obama, noting thing that nerdy guy became president. So, she said her son was in good company. The next day, when he came home from school she asked what had happened with Ricky, the bully. He replied that Ricky had called him a nerd again. What did her son do?

"I just slapped him on the back and told him I am a nerd. I also told him I'd be happy to employ him later in life," he said with a smile.

Nerds rule.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.