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July 20th, 2012
07:47 PM ET

After the Aurora shooting, a nerd braces for impact

by Ann Hoevel, CNN

A man opened fire in a crowded theater during a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie, killing 12 people and wounding 38. Along with the alleged shooter’s family and the NRA, I expect nerds and other outcasts will get some unwanted attention today.

My stomach dropped when I heard news of the mass shooting for the same reasons everyone else's did.

Shooting suspect was doctoral student, had 'obvious intellectual capacity'

But as a nerd and CNN's resident expert on geeky subcultures, I readied myself for pointed questions which I expected to get from outside the geek community: "Why 'Batman'?" "Is the shooter a nerd?" "Why is it always the loner?"

There's a precedent for labeling people considered nerds or geeks or outsiders as potentially dangerous individuals who might snap. After the Columbine shootings, Goths were given a wider birth than usual. Post school shootings, video gamers get to field a slew of weapons-related questions. Now my gut tells me comic book fans and movie geeks might face closer scrutiny even though there's no evidence the alleged shooter was either.

CNN: Debunking the myths of Columbine, 10 years later

But if the public shooting incidents of the last twenty years  – Columbine, Virginia Tech, D.C. sniper, Gabby Giffords – have taught us anything, it's that people who decide to kill innocents are many things. They are students, veterans, children, parents, jilted lovers, video game enthusiasts and rock music fans.

CNN: Professor: Virginia Tech shooter’s writing dripped with anger

Suspected Aurora, Colorado, shooter James Holmes was a PHD candidate in neuroscience at the University of Colorado Denver who was in the process of leaving the graduate program. Though little is knows about the alleged killer, he has been labeled a "nerd" by an uncle who spoke to the press. A  neighbor pegged him a loner. And already a former FBI profiler speculated he might be a "dark, Trekkie-like person."

Whether the Colorado shooter or any other killer considers himself a nerd, mass murderers are, above all else, mentally imbalanced. It is not normal human behavior to conduct a shooting rampage.

Read the full post on CNN's Geek Out! blog

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It's probably not wise to be a jerk to Felicia Day
Felicia Day hosted Spike TV's Video Game Awards show last December.
July 3rd, 2012
03:24 PM ET

It's probably not wise to be a jerk to Felicia Day

By Ann Hoevel, CNN

There's an old adage that says, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Not everyone takes that to heart.

Early this weekend, Ryan Perez –a blogger who was a contributor to gaming hub Destructoid – decided to pick a bone with geek culture icon Felicia Day via Twitter. He questioned whether or not Day made any contribution to the gaming industry other than cultivating a geeky persona. He suggested she was a glorified "booth babe."

That was a mistake.

Aside from being a successful web content producer, a Forbes-recognized entrepreneur (they called her a mogul in the making) and an actress with a resume steeped in Joss Whedon productions, Day has some pretty influential buddies. Gaming podcaster Veronica Belmont saw Perez's tweet and quickly came to her friend's defense. Nerd celebrity, Day's costar on "The Guild" and "Eureka" and Star Trek alum Wil Wheaton also weighed in. The Twitterverse got fairly heated in response to Perez's posts.

Within a few hours of his tweets, Destructoid publicly cut ties with Perez. Perez apologized to Day, who accepted.

Read the full post on CNN's Geek Out! blog

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Filed under: Bullying • How we look • Women