I'm at Denver
Comic Con Fan Expo this weekend.
Actually... I'm sitting in my hotel room across the street right now, writing this post (which, despite how lame it might sound, sitting at a hotel desk at seven in the morning is turning out to be one of my favorite times to write).
For the first time, I decided to attend this convention alone instead of with a group of friends. I'm not entirely sure why, but getting away for a few days and experiencing something through only my eyes (instead of through the eyes of my companions) felt right.
I guess there's just something centering about being alone with your thoughts sometimes (even if that "alone" means you are surrounded by a few thousand strangers).
The Nerd Culture Postulate
I don't get into it much here, but I've always been fascinated by nerd culture. There is something about how generally inclusive the community is that I deeply admire, and thanks to outfits like Loot Crate, Nerdist, and Geek and Sundry, being a "nerd" is no longer a mark of shame bestowed by 1980s movie bullies, but a badge of pride anyone can put on (for a nominal fee, of course).
Their normalization has created a space that is safe for people to express themselves in ways that have historically been shunned and even feared (Satanic Panic, anyone?) and I love that.
But I don't want to talk about that version of nerd culture; the kind that is wrapped up in a shiny, "Big Bang Theory" shaped bundle that the whole family can enjoy. I want to talk about that deep-down version of nerd culture that narrows a fan base of thousands down to hundreds, or even dozens.
He-Man and the Master of None
I like learning about new things (hell of a segue, I know, but stick with me here. I'm building to a point).
When I pick up a new interest, I have a habit of diving deep into it. Doesn't matter if it's collecting comic books or fishing; I want to be as knowledgeable and proficient as possible while I still have the motivation to do so. My wife calls it "collecting hobbies," and if I'm being honest, that's a pretty accurate description.
I'm a Grade A beginner. A Jack-of-all-Trades. A Renaissance Man. Truly great at very little, but pretty okay at a lot.
There are a lot of "mes" at fan conventions. People who like a thing (or many things) and attend to be steeped in the feeling that thing gives them; to be surrounded by other people who also like that thing, and to feel a real sense of belonging (if only for a day or two).
But, have you ever met someone whose knowledge and understanding of something goes deep? Not deep for the sake of art, or even commerce, but just because they love it?
Those are the people I love to meet at events like this.
Speak, Friend, and Enter
Give me an hour with someone who knows the origins and chemical makeup of every known form of Kryptonite, or the name and background of every Earth in the Marvel multiverse, or the entire map of Zork (seriously, why couldn't they just follow a god damn grid pattern?); give me an hour, and I am a happy man.
Enthusiasm is contagious, and when confronted with a truly devoted fan of anything, I find myself always leaving with more than I started with.
And maybe, at the risk of being embarrassingly corny, more friends.
This is post 014 of #100DaysToOffload