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 individually 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.
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. Another Nerdfighter club was founded at Auburn University, in which the members have stated their desire to do charity work with The Humane Society and This Star Won't Go Out.
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.
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.
The collaborative nature of the Nerdfighter community has resulted in meetups, sometimes involving the Green brothers. In 2008, the Greens held an event in Chicago, which proved to be a turning point for both the Green brothers, as well as Nerdfighteria. Hank recalled the event as the first time he could sell his music, as well as a precursor for DFTBA Records. John added to his brother's comments, stating, "This was also the first time I met Rosianna, who is now my assistant, and the first time we really understood the power of nerdfighter gatherings, and it happened at the Chicago Public Library, one of the first places to get behind my novels in a big institution-wide way, and wow, what an important day in our lives." The event would be the first of several meetups within the community, as the Greens founded VidCon, which was first held in 2010, attracting 1,400 in attendance.
Censuses and Surveys
The VlogBrothers enjoy connecting to their audience and community, which sometimes involves the use of surveys.
In 2013, Hank Green began an annual "Nerdfighter Census." The census survey is hosted on SurveyMonkey, and its results are analyzed by Hank. In 2014, over 100,000 people filled out the survey. Hank discovered that 72% of the responders are females, 85% are non-Hispanic white, as well as mostly Americans between the ages of 13 and 30.
Charity events and activism
A key component of the Nerdfighter community is the involvement with charity events. Events such as Project for Awesome, have allowed a way for Nerdfighter involvement with charitable actions.
Nerdfighters work closely with another group that promotes community activism, the Harry Potter Alliance. Nerdfighteria and HPA were able to raise $123,000 for Partners in Health, enough to send five cargo planes to Haiti, as a way to assist the citizens of Haiti following the 2010 earthquake.
Various instances of micro loans from Nerdfighters funding entrepreneurs in developing countries have been documented. Overall, more than 46,000 Nerdfighters have loaned a total amount of $4.5 million, ranking #9 all-time across all teams on Kiva.org. Exercising the interactive nature of the community, the Greens made a deal of sorts with Nerdfighteria: to have the community reach over $1 million in funds donated to Kiva before the Greens reached 1,000 videos on their VlogBrothers channel. Nerdfighters were able to accomplish this feat.
Project for Awesome
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."
This Star Won't Go Out and Esther Day
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. John Green states that Esther Day is the "most important holiday in Nerdfighteria," and that Earl, herself, has become a hero in the community.
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Aside from charity drives, Nerdfigheria also offers funding and 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.
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