Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Unironic Enthusiasm, YouTube, and Fandom: Why Nerdfighteria is Important

I've been struggling to describe to people why Nerdcon: Nerdfighteria mattered to me. And it wasn't the conference in particular that matters, although my experiences at the conference echoed my feelings about the community as a whole, but the fact that Nerdfighteria (the name for the community created by the vlogbrothers on YouTube) has deeply affected my life so far.

First, some basic information: John and Hank Green started their channel, the vlogbrothers, in 2007, each making videos so that they could communicate with one another. People started watching these videos and other channels were started because of them. Over the course of the last ten years, Hank and John have started numerous channels including How to Adult, SciShow, Crash Course, and Sexplanations. A community has formed around these videos, and this past weekend, approximately 4000 people gathered in Boston to celebrate this community. 

Back to why it matters: One of my favorite John Green quotes is, " nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff… Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. Hank, when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness." And this is why I am proud to be a nerd. Because this community woks the way it does, I am unafraid to love the things that I love and to talk excitedly about them to people who love them too, much to the mockery of the outside world. 

I was lonely in middle and high school, and as silly as it may sound to you, youtube gave me people to come home to. During the days of the Five Awesome Girls, Mondays were awesome because they meant a new video from Kristina Horner, who is actually the first YouTube creator that I started watching. For all of high school, I looked forward to Tuesdays and Fridays (or whatever days John and Hank were uploading at the time), and heck, I still do look forward to Tuesdays and Fridays. And when I am lonely, all of these people are right there inside of my computer to provide me with inspiration or comfort. 

There's too many little stories I could tell about why YouTube content and community matters to me. I could talk about how whenever I am feeling down about chronic pain, I rewatch John's video On Pain or that after the election, Rosianna's videos and Taylor's videos were what kept me going (everything will be hyperlinked so you can go check them out) or that the Project for Awesome is my favorite time of the year. I'm not just a fan. These things are deeply woven in with my identity (keep an eye out for a blog post about Harry Potter as a Sacred Text), and without them, I think I would be a boring person to be around. Hannah Hart's words at the Mental Health Panel this weekend made me feel like it was okay to not be okay. You may not understand, and most people probably won't, but that doesn't mean that this matters any less to me, and as much as we spent lots of time this weekend looking back at the past ten years, there is still so much more yet to come. 

1 comment:

  1. The Mental Health panel was the cornerstone of my weekend. Mike posted it on his youtube channel, and I've been sharing it with everyone. And what was really awesome was going from that panel to Live D&D. I wasn't ready to think or feel anything other than how I did when I arrived, and as my roommate enthusiastically introduced me to people he'd met at the tabletops, everyone was cool with it. I steadily uncoiled and shared in everyone else's enthusiasm (without feeling coerced), and then Mike sat down at the front of the room and participated in leading the next two hours of entertainment. I've been trying to put words to the whole thing, but it all just felt awesome, to me.