Dee Bradley Baker's "All to Know About Going Pro in V.O."

A Fan Convention is the Anti-Twitter

I just got back from a fan convention and had to write this op-ed:


A fan convention is the anti-Twitter.

In contrast to the corrosive, escalating combat that social media is designed to encourage, a fan convention is a celebration of difference and tolerance. It brings out the best in us, for it encourages a celebration of our differences in a face-to-face arena.

The contrast to one’s Twitter-feeds is almost shocking.

One cannot help but be struck by the inclusiveness and acceptance on display at a fan convention. Those who may feel sidelined or looked down upon in their regular lives find they are all welcomed when they dress to reveal who they feel they are or who they aspire to be.

Imagine: A tightly packed heterogenous mass of tens of thousands- each associated with a multiverse of worlds and mythologies- yielding no friction or violence.

All body types are celebrated. All ages, gender or orientations are welcome. All forms of expression and beauty are accepted with open arms. A fan con is as far from “magazine-pretty” or “Instagram-filter-cute” as you can get. It is a place where everyone’s everyday normal is beautiful.

One mythology welcomes all others. No enthusiasm is deemed a threat or challenge. The professional exists side by side with the amateur in an economy fueled by enthusiasm and creativity.

In contrast to a society that seems hell-bent on extinguishing arts from our education, a fan convention celebrates art and artists. The legions of fan attendees seem starved for art inspired by art inspired by art. Many bring their paintings, poems, homemade pins and prose to share- to say nothing of their costumes.

Twitter galvanizes our attention as it strips away the nuance of face to face communication. It distracts us with escalating, combative monologues masquerading as conversion. Its algorithms select for outrage and conflict and rewards take downs and anonymous sniping. Conversation is throttled and difference of perspective is blunted by insult and assault. Twitter enthralls us with a smothering and dismal zero-sum horizon.

But a fan convention is from another planet where a vast range of mythologies coexist and thrive side by side. All variation and idiosyncrasy is met with a smile. A cheerful optimism rules. The only arms race is a creative one.

Imagine a world where tens of thousands peacefully follow their creativity and enthusiasm, free to live their best identity, conjuring their deepest aspirations and inhabiting the world as they want it to be. 

Collaboration, acceptance and inclusiveness along with optimism, hope and sense of fun is the rule.

Beyond the cosplay costumes, isn’t this what everyone thirsts for in their “normal” day-to-day lives- a sense of acceptance of self and an optimistic creative agency?

The eager, overflowing costumed crowds of a fan convention seem to say, “This is who I am,” and, “Isn’t this how we should always be?”

Is the Twitter-feed world really who we are? Must we be defined by polarity, suspicion and aggression as our default? Is it who we have to be? Is this how we want to build our world, our minds, our future?

Of course not!

Why must a fan convention be confined to a corner of a city for a few days a year? Why can’t we bring the best of who we are into the light and make our world into one big face-to-face fan convention? 

Put down the dismal horizon imposed by our Twitter feeds and other 2D social media. Let’s come together, face-to-face. Look to a fan convention to point the way towards a hopeful, creative world we make together, where we are who we are and who we want to be.

© Dee Bradley Baker 2023

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