Wil Wheaton: His heart-warming advice for bullied nerds (+video)(Read article summary)
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.
Wil Wheaton's early claim to fame was playing a kid – a bit of nerd, actually – on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" television series.
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?"
"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.