Public Displays

Responsibility can be a pain in the ass sometimes.

Remember that anthology I talk about every so often? Well, it’s in jeopardy now as yet another author has left the project…this time not due to lack of time to devote to the project, but rather due to a certain member’s public social media profile.

What blows about it is that I’m in a position of authority in the project so it’s partly my responsibility to see to the matter, because the now-former member has a point.

When you’re in a position like I am–like all of the authors in the project, really–you’ve got to think about the public face you put out for the world to see. This is a project involving authors from around the world, and the goal is trans-Atlantic publication. So yeah, it’s a lot to think about. How do you want potential publishers to see you? Do you have a profile that they wouldn’t want associated with their name, or is your public face free of blemishes?

I’ll freely admit that mine profile’s not 100% clean. There’s more than one reason I don’t put my day job down on Facebook, and the desire for the freedom to cuss every once in a while is just one of those reasons. Is it a profile that I’d be afraid to show publishers? No, because it’s who I am, and my writing reflects that–well, it generally reflects that. Obviously for the project I don’t write the same type of material that I write for personal things–heck, I even write differently here. But I try to keep from getting publicly involved in controversial topics and potentially offensive things (the occasional blue language notwithstanding). I also generally don’t add people under the age of 18 as friends or follow them on social media, not even family members, because I don’t feel that the things I post are appropriate for that age group.

Now, this isn’t something I had considered (as far as the project goes) until this was brought to my attention, but it is a valid point. Your public social media posts can come back to haunt you. Think about what you’re posting: Is it appropriate? Is it offensive? Is it excessively violent/graphic/etc.?

Think before you post, everyone. If you don’t have a problem with posting blatantly offensive or controversial, that’s all well and good. Just be aware that not everyone’s going to be fine with it and it could potentially cut off profitable avenues.

Twit for Brains

Man, I can’t seem to tear myself away from Twitter for very long this morning. Usually by now I’ve written a blog and chatted with a few friends and maybe done some cosplay sewing or writing or something. Yeah, I’ve gotten a little of all that done today, but for some reason I keep going back to Twitter.

What keeps us locked on social media? Why do we keep hitting refresh or view (x) new tweets or some such thing? I mean, sure, some of the people I follow I genuinely want to know about…but some are news pages, and some are people I’ve followed that I’ve never bothered to unfollow (generally people who don’t post anything other than book ads–not that I don’t advertise my own book from time to time, but I’ve learned to try to keep it at a minimum…not constantly).

Facebook isn’t as bad, unless one or more of my friends are online. Then I’m just messaging back and forth, learning about their day or sharing mine. But Twitter…man, some days I need a twelve-step program. Even now I want to log back in, to check and see if there’s anything worth retweeting or replying to. I want to see what the trending hashtags are, and see if I want to be trendy and use one of them.

For live tweeting it can’t be avoided, obviously. You have to be on Twitter, and you have to refresh frequently to keep up with the other live tweeters. But in day-to-day life? I don’t know about that, man.

I also get caught up in how many of my tweets get liked or retweeted. Just this morning a celebrity liked a tweet that I sent in reply to one of their tweets. If you’ve read my piece on Talk Nerdy With Us about “social media fame,” you’ll know my opinion on that–yet I still get excited.

Good thing for me that it will soon be time to get ready for work. I’ll have no choice but to leave the Twitterverse behind for a while as I take my shower and get dressed. Then, once I’m at work, Twitter will have to disappear until I get my lunch break or go home.

Bye-bye, Twitter. I’m sure I’ll see you again soon.


Sailing Away

Ships. They pull in and sail off, come and go.

And some of them make absolutely no sense.

I’m not talking about your average boat. I’m talking about relationships, specifically in books, TV shows, and movies. People see two characters who they feel should be together, and boom! A ship is born. It’s the biggest thing in fandoms lately, and it shows no sign of stopping.

The ships don’t even have to be characters that are in a scripted relationship. Sometimes they’re between characters that don’t have any romantic chemistry. Sometimes they’re even incestuous.

Why do we ship? Why do some fans rabidly defend their ships, often to the point of full-on fan wars? I mean slur-slinging, trash-talking, hate-mailing wars, all over fictional characters that may never have been in a relationship to begin with.

It’s a strange phenomenon, one that I don’t fully understand. At times I can see the chemistry that creates a fanborne ship, but for the most part it’s beyond my comprehension. Why invest so much energy in a fantasy world, especially one in which the thing you fantasize about doesn’t exist? Some fans even write fanfic (fan-authored fiction–a topic for another day, perhaps) or fanart (fanfic for the artist set) depicting their favorite ship.

I suppose I’m something of a purist. If the characters are written as being in a relationship, fine. If they’re written/played as having chemistry, okay. But non-canonical, non-romantic couplings that don’t make any sense? That just doesn’t jive with me. I don’t even like canon relationships without some sort of romantic vibe there to spark a ship.

The rabid nature of shipping also baffles me. You take a relationship that isn’t established and defend it to your dying breath. Friendships can be made or lost due to fandom ships. Is a fictional relationship really worth that kind of cost?

I, for one, don’t think so. I think shipping could theoretically be fun, if taken as the make believe that they are, but certainly not to the extent at which people are willing to go lately.

If your ship leaves the dock and sets sail, for the love of all that’s holy, just let it go. Don’t get in heated fights with someone you don’t even know over a fantasy. It’s not worth it.

When celebrities say good-bye…

Okay, so I’ve seen quite a few tweets lately on my Twitter feed about a certain actress deleting her Twitter account due to wanting to be more private. Some people are downright devastated by this! Why? Why the obsession? Why cry or lament over a person that you may have met in passing (or may never have met at all) deciding to keep their private life private? Don’t celebrities have that right?

I, for one, have never felt that celebrities are obligated to engage in social media. If they choose to do so, fine; I’ll follow the ones I like and enjoy their occasional posts. But if they decide to leave social media (or forgo it all together), what right do I have to get upset? Would these fans get upset if their distant cousin twice removed on their mother’s uncle’s in-laws’ side decided on a social media blackout? I doubt it.

Celebrities are people, too. I think this is something that gets forgotten, because their lives are so widely publicized that total strangers may become deluded into thinking that they “know” the celebrity enough to be “close” to them. Sure, they may retweet something you tagged them in (or even–*gasp!*–reply!), but that doesn’t mean they know you. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll remember you after the retweet button is pressed.

Now, I’m not saying that this doesn’t happen. I’m sure it does on rare occasions. However, in these days of social media saturation I think it’s important to keep a realistic mindset of things. You may see so many “backstage” photos or fun facts that you think, “Hey, he/she gets me. They know that I’m reading this, know that I care about them, know that I’m following their every online move. This is not necessarily the case.

Some celebrities do follow fans and keep track of the goings-on in their lives, but it’s rare. Most have so many fans that they simply don’t have the time or resources to read every single tweet or message. If they’re shooting a film, writing a book, or recording an album, they may not have the luxury of sitting down to a computer, tablet, or smartphone and scroll through thousands upon thousands of notes, tweets, and messages. Is it nice when they do get the chance? Sure. Should it be expected of them? No.

I respect the actress’s decision to pull away from social media and take a break–or a permanent hiatus. It’s her right. If she were a normal average Joe, few strangers would feel the heartbreak that I’ve seen expressed over her leaving.

When a celebrity chooses to go off-grid, let them be. Understand that they may already be hounded by paparazzi and the media in general. Respect their privacy. And realize that they’re not doing it to hurt or upset fans; they’re doing it to regain some semblance of a normal, private life.

Die Hard

Fans. Short for “fanatics”…and many fans more than fit the definition of the word. But what makes a fan so crazy for a particular TV show, author, movie, comic book, etc.? What drives a person to extreme levels of love or hatred over fictional worlds and characters?

People who are immersed in fandom take their devotion to almost inhuman levels. They create social media identities that are intertwined with the fandom, often so engrossed in their obsession that their own identity is lost in the madness. Posts with fanfic, fan art, memes, and clips and GIFs of their favorite thing encompass the entirety of their fan profiles, with little to no hint of an individual personality.

There is only the fan.

Now, I’ll admit to being obsessed with certain shows or books. I’m a fan of the new Doctor Who, that’s for sure, and it has become a part of my identity. A small part, but a part nonetheless. Do I become entangled in fan battles about the show and its canon, about whether Rose or River is a better match for the Doctor, about which companion is the “best”? No, not really. Does that make me any less of a fan? Some would say so.

The psychology of fandom is a mystery to me. Then again, I dropped my psychology course in college because the professor was a bore. Lol I still wonder sometimes what kind of personality is drawn to this level of immersion into fantasy worlds. Can a person’s home life really be so bad as to be overwritten by fiction?

I know that I myself had a hard time of things growing up. I became obsessed, in my own way, with certain books or TV shows or comics. I didn’t let them become the entirety of my identity, as some of these fans seem to do, but then again I grew up in the age just before the social media explosion. Are these fandom profiles I’m seeing really as fanatic as they seem? Or are they just secondary profiles, places to escape from the real profile for a few hours a day?

I shudder at the thought that these are, in fact, the fans’ primary profiles. Is social media somehow to blame? There were die-hard fans before social media, that’s for sure. I just wonder how far is too far, and how long it will be before the fandom engulfs the fans.

The Write Stuff?

I mentioned before about the Cosplay Closet Essentials posts I’ve started writing for Talk Nerdy With Us. So far the results have been positive, but how long will that last?

As an artist, I’m plagued with insecurity. Is this painting any good? Is the cosplay I’m sewing going to turn out? Will my novel get published?

Will people like the articles I wrote?

Don’t get me wrong; I love the interviews. I love doing most of the work myself: approaching the cosplayers for an interview, writing up the questions, editing and posting the articles for review. It makes me feel good when I’m able to organize something myself. But is that something good enough?

Artists, at times, can be fragile creatures. We put our souls into our drawings and our paintings, our sculptures and our clothing, our poetry and our prose. Think of Harry Potter: every piece of art that is created from the artist’s muse is like a horcrux. Souls torn into a million pieces, each one weakening the artist a little yet making the artist strong enough to live forever.

Some people might say that an interview isn’t the kind of writing that can be considered “art.” I disagree. I put just as much of myself into an interview as I put into a detailed drawing or my latest cosplay. I don’t just phone it in–except for phone interviews. I guess technically I phone those in. But that’s beside the point.

These Cosplay Closet Essentials posts are my horcruxes, just as are my paintings, drawings, and stories. So think about that the next time you read an article that you don’t agree with.

You could be dissing a part of someone’s soul.

Fandoms: Like minds or hive mind?

Since becoming more active on Twitter last year, I noticed something: people in fandoms (fans who are fanatics in the truest sense of the word) seem to identify themselves by their fandom. There are countless usernames and Twitter handles referencing various fandoms, Supernatural fans often have a username that includes the show title, theme song, or cast, Doctor Who fans have usernames dedicated to the show or referring to quotes or moments from their favorite episode. It makes me wonder…at what point does the fan lose himself/herself in the fandom? When does one’s love of a TV show, book, movie, or musician become part of their basic identity?

When I started on Twitter, I had no need for a fancy username or handle. I just used my first and middle initial and my last name. Simple, and more importantly, wholly me. Sure, I may have a profile photo that indicates my love of Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, or any other geeky thing, but that’s just a part of me. I’m also an author, a painter, a sculptor, a poet, a journalist….How can one fandom convey all of that?

Sure, my name alone doesn’t indicate much about me, but it’s me. I mold my name to become me through my tweets, favorites, and retweets. I tweet about TV shows that I like, about things I’m doing throughout my day, about the spectacular and the mundane. I put me into every 140 characters. Sometimes it’s fandom-related–more often it’s not. So what makes someone decide to dedicate an entire profile to their favorite entertainment?

There’s fanfiction. There’s head canon. There’s fan art, fan groups…legions of fans. Rabid, hungry, relentless fans. And there’s no stopping them.

Fandoms can merge, split, and even war with other fandoms. Ever heard of the battle royale between the Supernatural fandom and the Justin Bieber fandom? Or how about Twihards versus Potterheads? And no fandom mention would be complete without the ultimate trifecta fandom, Superwholock. Confused yet? Don’t worry. Head on down to Twitter, or Tumblr, or even a little bit of Facebook. They’re there, proclaiming their devotion at the top of their, well, keyboards.

Maybe it’s just that the things I’m a fan of don’t always stay the same. I once was a staunch supporter of the X-Men, until their movies became increasingly terrible and the comics changed storylines so often I couldn’t keep up. Do I still love the X-Men that I read in the past? Sure, but I probably won’t be buying new comics or merchandise any time soon, and Blink will probably never be part of any username or email address of mine again. I was a part of the fandom, but I moved on.

Or maybe it’s because I’m a part of so many different fandoms. I can’t very well limit myself to one or another. They’re all a part of me. How do I choose?

So I wonder, why limit who you are to what you’re a fan of? You may love DC comics more than life itself…but is that it? Does WonderWoman4Life have to be who you are? Why can’t you be JaneRDoe or JoeQPublic? Sure, there’s the issue of Internet safety and anonymity–possibly the reason for more fandom-related usernames on Twitter and Tumblr than on Facebook–but what’s so wrong with being you?

Then I wonder: what’s so wrong with loving something so much that it becomes a part of your identity? My coworkers and friends will forever associate me with my love of Doctor Who, even though they themselves might not be fans of the show, so I might as well change my username to HelloSweetie or MelodyPond. Will I love Doctor Who forever? I’m not sure, but it will be a part of who I am until I’m old and grey and can’t remember what it is I like. I’m a Whovian at heart, but I don’t consider myself so ensconced in the world that I have to create fanfic of my favorite characters or change my screen name to “ElevenIsNumberOne.” Does that mean I’m not a “true” fan? Not really.

Now, I’m not knocking fandoms. I’m just trying to understand the mindset. Every individual is so much more than their favorite book or TV show or sports team. Why make your entire social media presence about that one thing? When does being a fan just mean loving something wholeheartedly, and when does it begin to take over your identity?

If I were more scientific-minded and less lazy, I might do a study of sorts. Follow people with “normal” usernames and people with fandom names, compare the postings of the two, try to determine at what point the fandom assimilates the fan. Is it just a phase for most of them, or will there be little old folks in nursing homes who know nothing but the Sherlock episodes that they’ve memorized after countless hours of binge watching?

But I’m not scientific-minded and I’m quite lazy, so the study will remain a pondering for now. I’m just an average Joe with silly questions in my head.