An alien nation

It’s pretty common for people to feel good about being at conventions. Being in a new and interesting place, being away from the everyday concerns of life… all these give a sort of magical feel to the experience.

But there’s something else – the knowledge that if I say “Like a leaf on the wind…”, most people will get it. Or the t-shirt that says “Jesus saves… and takes half damage.” Or the shirt I’m wearing now – a dinosaur and ninja shirt. Yes, dinosaurs and ninjas.

But these things would, at best, get a grudging acceptance from my everyday contacts. We can go a step further – I’m hanging out with writers, which has its own demands and travails that simply don’t make sense if you’re not a writer. (Published or not, it’s the writing bit that I’m referring to.)

Here, among these people, there’s something missing that is present in my everyday life. That something missing is a sense of alienation, a sense of not-quite being accepted. Here, among these people, we’re accepted.

Yes, my jokes are still godawful puns. Yes, there are still “let me show you my karate moves” Napoleon Dynamites. But all of us are, at least to some extent – and recognize it.

I think this is the other part of what makes conventions special – that sensibility that you are not alone. Regardless of what type – professional, hobbyist, whatever – you’re among people who accept you.

The darker thing this implies is that most of us – and I mean most of us – are wandering around most of the time feeling alienated, alone, and unaccepted. So what are you and I going to do about it? How can we make everyday life more like a con?