This is a post of my rant that was originally published in Watch The Skies. I have edited it for print version references from the original. IF you’d like to see it in the Fanzine, check it out over at Watch The Skies!
There’s been a lot of talk over the past few years about how geek chic and other indicators show how “we’ve won” from the “nerd” point of view. “There’s all those comic book movies and that TV show with those funny nerds and just look how important computers are!”
What we have is the opposite of winning in the worst ways. It’s loss of identity combined with the strip mining of things once proudly known, only to feed the masses entertainment that makes them all believe they’re one of the “neglected” or “unpopular” side of society. I hate that I feel that way, but this feeling is deep inside me and it won’t let go.
A few weeks back I read a story about a convention that was attacked. There’s no other way to put it. If the same thing happened at a hotel where a political event were happening the entire place would have been crawling with very serious looking talking heads wondering if it was another example of domestic terrorism and likely trying to tie it to the middle east somehow. If it was your local high school football game it would probably have been handled better. Instead, what we got was a supposed news person that fails to maintain professional composure and what amounts to a “human interest” story mentioned only in passing. I’m not going to revisit all the details as it really is old news. You can read some really good takes on the story here and here. This is just the latest on a long list of things that concern me about the fan community. It might seem a little crazy or perhaps over-reactive.
At one of our recent meetings I was talking about that attack among other things and the starting point, the basis, of why I feel this way. I realized a huge segment of the population doesn’t understand because they weren’t there. I mentioned something about “The Satanic Panic” and got a questioning look. No idea what I was talking about. No idea why I was upset or what in the world I was blathering on about. It stopped me short.
That moment made me think about my reaction. Is it really just me? After a great deal of introspection I thought, maybe, but it will take me a long, long time before I’m willing to speak with abandon. I keep my passion close to me and let very few others in. Deep down inside I’m still worried about reactions the way I was when I was 12. How many people will turn and walk away because I’m associated with that “devil game”? Maybe they’ll hand me a pamphlet on how to save myself. How many people who might have still been my friends were denied that because their parents bought into the hysteria of the day? How many people won’t take me seriously because my art or my writing “look like that nerdy stuff”? How many times was “that dummies game where nobody wins” talked down or belittled even though it would become a life long attachment for me? Perhaps there will be a couple more books or movies that claim a position of “factual relevance” while disparaging music and games. Forgive me if I’m hesitant to put myself out there.
Clearly it’s not that I won’t talk about my hobbies. It’s not that I will deny loving science fiction or fantasy. I spend a great deal of time reading, writing, gaming and all other manner of fan based things. I help run conventions now. I write in fanzines.
But I know my audience when I’m doing those things. I’m still in the relatively sheltered alcove where others like me hang out. It’s mostly safe. I still don’t trust people outside of fields related directly to these pursuits. The news person from the convention attack is just the highest profile, most recent version of that.
I hope that I can use this small essay as a starting point. I want to avoid my knee jerk reaction. I’d like to be positive and sharing of the things I’m most passionate about. I want to avoid becoming the stereotypical anti-social curmudgeon warding off people with random expressions of anger. I’ve tried to look for the bright side. There are positive articles out there. Stories that talk about “lifestyle” or show the “benefits” of playing like I always have. There is so much good and fun it needs to be shared.
Have we won? No, we haven’t but our hobbies and passions have never really been about winning, have they?