Nerdfighteria is a community subculture, based mainly online. It began in 2007, when the VlogBrothers (John and Hank Green) rose to prominence in the online community. As their popularity grew, so did coverage on Nerdfighteria, whose followers are known as Nerdfighters.
Hank Green describes it as "a community that sprung up around our videos, and basically we just get together and try to do awesome things and have a good time and fight against world suck." The Greens began The Foundation to Decrease World Suck, in order to donate funds and launch projects that would help a variety of causes. Nerdfighters and the Green brothers have collaborated on many projects such as the charitable drive, Project for Awesome, launched in 2007, and the convention focusing on topics surrounding the world of digital media, VidCon. Nerdfighters have been documented by websites such as The Hollywood Reporter, and The Wall Street Journal, with a following estimating in the millions.
Symbols and Terminology
A prominent symbol in Nerdfighter culture is a double-handed gesture with crossed arms, resembling the Vulcan salute from Star Trek. Celebrities such as actor Benedict Cumberbatch and Olympian Jennifer Pinches have been documented demonstrating Nerdfighter hand gestures. The symbol has been referred to as a Nerdfighter "gang sign" or a "salute." Additionally, the initialism "DFTBA", standing for "Don't Forget To Be Awesome", is generally considered the motto of the community.
Community events and charitable drives
Nerdfighteria is known for its online collaborative nature, as forums, spinoff blogs, meetups, and charitable events have been spawned by its members. Instances of the community collaborating can be observed in the creation of college campus groups at universities such as the University of Maryland and Texas Christian University.
Nerdfighters are the largest community of lenders to Kiva.org, a non-profit organization which helps people lacking access to traditional banking systems by granting loans to them. On Kiva.org, over 46,000 Nerdfighters have loaned a total amount of $4.3 million. A major event in the Nerdfighter community is Project for Awesome. The event, initially known as the "Nerdfighter Power Project for Awesome", launched in 2007, and occurs annually in December. On the topic of the overwhelming amounts the event has been able to raise, Hank has stated "YouTube was caught pretty off guard by the first P4A, but ever since then they've been hugely supportive."
The Nerdfighter subculture was able to force the release of the novel The Fault in Our Stars five months early. Additionally, during the first site of a 2014 Q&A tour, at the Dolphin Mall, the event had to be shut down early due to safety concerns caused by 5,000 fans crowding in order to get closer to the stage.
Aside from charitable events, Nerdfigheria also offers support for AFC Wimbledon, a fourth-tier football club in England. In January 2014, John Green became an official sponsor of the club, and later in the year the Green's sponsorship led to a Nerdfighter logo design, with the DFTBA catchphrase being featured on the club's kits.
This Star Won't Go Out
Another non-profit foundation associated with the community is, This Star Won't Go Out, founded by Wayne and Lori Earl, in memory of their daughter, Esther. The name of the foundation stems from the fact that "Esther" means "star" in Persia. The program itself provides funds and assistance to families of children with cancer. Esther Earl had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2006, and before her death in 2010, had developed a bond with the VlogBrothers and the Nerdfighter community. John Green and Earl met and bonded at a Harry Potter conference in 2009. She would be involved with Nerdfighteria and YouTube, as she was a vlogging personality, until her death on August 25, 2010, at the age of 16. Shortly before her death, on August 2, 2010, the day before her 16th birthday, John uploaded a video in preparation for "Esther Day," which would be celebrated the following day. Earl stated she wanted the day to be about "family and love." Two days following her death, the VlogBrothers made a video titled Rest In Awesome, Esther, remembering her and all of her contributions to the Nerdfighter community, as well as the world. Nerdfighteria continues to keep her memory alive through her foundation, as well as Esther Day, which is celebrated each year on August 3. Earl would later be known as the inspiration for the character, Hazel Grace Lancaster, in John Green's novel, as well as its film adaptation, The Fault in Our Stars.
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