Monday, April 29, 2013

Post-C2E2 2013: Alone in A Crowd Part 2

See the previous post for where this started for more backstory....
Not from C2E2, but from the Paley Center in Los Angeles. I felt it was relavent, though.

My roommate and I know each other because of fandom. Many of our other friendships have either started via fandom or have been strengthened by fandom. But we've both also been that person that's all alone. It's a bit of a "hermits united" effort with very little effort.

Sure, it's probably normal to be the one person in your family that gets a Battlestar Galactica reference. Or the only person in your office. But there's something also so isolating about knowing that you have so many things in common with the people around you yet you feel like you can't speak to them. That you can't enjoy things the way they enjoy them. That there's an invisible glass between you.

It's not a gender thing. It's not an age thing. It's not an intelligence or "how nerdy are you" thing.

It's just a thing.

But we've also both been to conventions where we don't speak to anyone other than vendors trying to sell something. She's more out-going than I am- she likes to cosplay, she likes to strike up conversations with people, she likes to be photographed, she likes to take photographs with other cosplayers. Like I said, she's awesome enough to offer to go up and ask a question for me if I'm too shy to go up. She will drag me down autograph lines and start conversations when my jaw locks up too much. But she feels it, too.

We had whimpers of conversations start up with strangers here and there, but nothing that continued. We spent two days submerged in geekdom and didn't make any new friends. Two years in a row. The closest we got was the adorable baby on the shuttle that was drawn in by my glasses (especially when I do the Marty-from-Grease glasses wiggle that makes it look like they're dancing on my face) and kept looking at us.

I just can't manage to put myself out there to be part of the community I'm in. I specifically don't wear even a fandom-y t-shirt to conventions. I don't attempt to make new friends via twitter. I haven't updated my livejournal in ages. I don't friend anyone on facebook unless they friend me first. I don't even comment on message boards outside the private one I have with some friends.

I haven't even told anyone, other than my roommate, that this site exists.

But this goes back even further.

 I went to my first convention alone as a teenager and left after an hour. They get too overwhelming for me if I don't have someone else there to ground me- to be the lightning rod. Even the small ones, which I've also gone to alone, I end up leaving soon. I realize that I just can't make the connection with anyone. When I moved across the country on my own, I went to special movie screenings where I could've spoken to people but didn't. The friends I made were a fluke- I was lucky they were extroverts and into so many things I was into. So willing to be my new fast friends and family. And then their friends became my friends.

I try to make an effort to make sure to comment on websites (blog/news-style ones, mostly) that I like, but often realize that it has been 3-to-6 months since the last time I left a comment (thanks, Disqus!). I'm not a "regular" anywhere. And I really almost never comment on YouTube. I'm only just reaching the point where I'm making an effort to "Like" things I do like. That's why this site does exist. To make me speak. To maybe, every once in a while, say what's not already getting said? I can't be the only silent person, can I? No, because I see the view counters on my blogger account. I know how many visits I get yet end up with not a single comment (and, no, I'm not fishing here).

I think people still don't really understand fandom. People understand the vocal members of fandom- but they don't speak for the rest of us. That's part of what is so isolating. Oddly enough, I think part of why I suddenly felt the need to silently disagree with Peter Davison was due to Doctor Who fandom. Maybe that's why I feel so outed- because I feel like I'm not allowed to be in my favorite fandoms anymore. I don't want to be the negative person that won't leave the party and ruins it for everyone, but it also makes it hard to continue to love what I loved when everyone moves on without me.

I have nothing against Matt Smith, but I don't like the current run of Doctor Who. I went in cautiously to the Steven Moffat era, having seen how worn-out the Russell T Davies specials had been and knowing the show needed a breath of fresh air, and found myself let down even more than I could imagine. After just over a season and a half, I had to stop making myself miserable by watching it. And now I feel left behind.

But since I'm not one of the people speaking, I feel like I'm completely left out now.

No, that's not quite it. I don't know, honestly. I just do find fandom to be a very isolating "crowd adjacent" experience. That much I know is true.

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