We love to love our heroes, we love to hate our villains. Sometimes we love to love our villains and embrace those wondrous rogues who live in between. We love to dissect stories and plot and hidden meaning. We love to root around the internet for clues and allusions. We love the elaborate back story, the romance and the drama.
We fall in love with actors and actresses. We crush on Doctors, companions, rebels, cyborgs, dragon riders, worm riders, and star fleet graduates. We adore the gamma radiated, the playboy millionaires, the mutants and the meta-humans. We experience life and time differently when we are involved in the tales; when we are drawn into the myth and legends through which we experience truth. Our heroes carry symbolism that goes beyond the entertainment of a 800 page novel, a 42 minute television program, or even a box of comic books.
Our stories are exhilarating, better than real life, and a source for purpose for many of us.
But, we need balance.
While playing the World of Warcraft, I occasionally see this message:
Bring your friends to Azeroth, but don’t forget to go outside Azeroth with them as well.
(I have always found this bit of advice more sage and wise than “You can use the Tab key to select nearby enemies in front of you.”)
The good folks at Blizzard saw a need to put that reminder in the game. A game is another one of these fantasy worlds we live in, isn’t it? See, that’s the trap with the stories we love and adore. These stories are so much a part of our life, that we sometimes need to be shown that our fandom is not everything. We need to leave the stories behind and do something.
We need balance.
Do you play video games? Lots of folks do, of course. It’s big business, and there is a reason why the first word in the gaming term MMORPG is MASSIVELY. The population of online gamers is so high that those games are called MASSIVELY MULTI-PLAYER ONLINE ROLE PLAYING GAME. At any given moment hundreds of thousands of people play games online. Many more play console games. Many, Many more are watching entertainment or experiencing their fandom on the internet.
Fans tend to obsess and that fuels our desire to watch our stories, discuss our stories online, play our games, and even go so far as to extend our favorite fantasy worlds by writing our own stories about fandom,.
When I first set out to write this column and record my podcast, I read a lot of books about being an expert. There are books out there about being an expert, FYI. Anyway, one of the pieces of advice I found is never to use “we” in my writing or speaking. Use “I” when I discuss what I have done and use “you” when I am describing what should be done by the audience. When I talk about fandom, I can’t stop using “we.” I feel as much a part of this community as any of you. I have my obsessions in pop culture and find the need to ramble on about them as much as anyone.
Speaking of which, please watch Doctor Who, New Girl, Community, GO ON, Happy Endings, Archer, Game of Thrones, American Dad, and when it returns, Warehouse 13.
But like I said, balance.
Last night I had a delightful meal that was part socialization, part business. I was delighted because my dinner companion was not involved in fandom, geekery, or the sci-fi/fantasty world. It challenged me to talk about things that I enjoy in the greater world, outside of my many diverse fandoms. We talked about travels and regional diversity. We talked about the art scene in Atlanta, and about ourselves. We talked about careers and day jobs and decisions we faced. At the end of the evening, I made a reference to WoW and said I would be playing World of Warcaft last night. After our dinner. I wasn’t ashamed of my geek self, and my companion for the evening was aware of how much of a geek I am. I was just someone practicing being the other parts of me.
Your career, your family, your friendships, and mostly yourself deserve to get your own attention and energy. If we participate in an online community for full acceptance but we don’t practice full acceptance and love with our families, our families will drift apart. We will wonder why. If we dedicate our hours to reading fanfic after fanfic but don’t own a single magazine or website subscription concerning our chosen profession, we will stagnate in the field and our career will be a job. If we spend our hours getting ready for conventions and the activities there but schedule no down time to reconnect with our friends, we will end up with shallow friendships.
Finally, take the time and make the time for your physical and mental health. Walk, exercise, eat right, and be alone sometimes with your thoughts. If you need advice and guidance, make a decision to get it. If you need to get in an exercise program, sign up! If you need to just take a nap, take a nap. If you are in a significant relationship, make time for your partner in a special way. If you are single, schedule a date with yourself. Open yourself up to the idea of a relationship if you want one and pursue it.
Be good to you, encourage you, love you. You are the only you that you have. Geeky or not, you deserve your own love.
Break from the obsessions that being a geek fosters and get a bit of balance. I am surely not telling you to give up your fandoms. Remember that Syfy will be there for you, the internet will be there for you, Azeroth will be there for you, and Earth-616 will be there for you.
And, if you need something specific, Seriously, Dan will be there for you also. Remember that real mental health issues should be addressed by a professional. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Seriously, Dan see: