FanBros VS: Loneliness & Isolation In Geek Culture
So, I’ve been playing this game series called Persona. The latest one just released and it’s over 100 hours long, so I won’t go into details about that particular one to prevent spoilers. But, let’s discuss Persona 4(one of my favorite games ever made):
While I’ve repeatedly used the term Knowledge of Self through this Mental Health series, it is particularly a major subject in this game series. You play as a kid who must spend a year living with hardened uncle and his adorable daughter in a small town as a series of supernatural murders are happening. While the killer may be a threat, you’re genuine issue is your battle against loneliness and isolation. You meet several characters along the way who are each effected in some shape or form from the murders and they join you in supernatural combat to take down demonic enemies. But, in order for any of these characters to achieve the ability to fight, they must gain confidence in their own flaws and grow acceptance of the people around them to be willing to help. Before you know it, you have a cast of eight playable characters with their own styles and personalities. They grow attached to you and your decisions as your underlying and ultimate personal goal is simply to just become a well-rounded person.
While this may sound cheesy on the surface, this is a game that has become a culture phenomenon. It’s spawned spin-offs, soundtracks, an animated series, a clothing line, etc. It’s perfect for the millions within geek culture because it’s tapped into something that people forget often comes with who we are: our loneliness. Our desire to not only just be in a fantastic situation, but to share it with people we care about and evolve as a person along the way. Because there are days where those two things seem equally as impossible as the other.
There are many reasons why an individual can be isolated from those around them: sexuality, race, religion, disabilities, physical anatomy, taste in music, fashion style, sense of humor and any other combination of those listed… It’s rare that the person pushed into a corner committed any other crime to deserve this treatment other than being a unique individual. While all of these pains are unique and relevant, I can only speak from the perspective of a multi-cultured geek of color.
I love being a geek. I really do. And there are quite a few of us in our late 20s and up that remember what this style was like before we became more “cool” and “mainstream”. If you watched anime, read comics, collected cards, obsessed over improving in video games or just had a TV show you were a major fan of, you were considered lame. And I’m sure many of us remember this from an early age. There are those of us who grew up in bad neighborhoods or life was so hard that we found solace in a book or a game. I personally had the experience of being the youngest in a family of six kids, yet the only one who was born under my father. While my brothers and sisters are far from dumb, I advanced quickly and I kinda suffered for it.
This drastic separation caused me to become isolated early on and to just accept this was who I am. At school, I’d have friends come and go, but nothing stuck. Something was either off or maybe the kids I would hang out with would just grow tired of me. I couldn’t hold conversations and my interests weren’t that popular. I tried sports, joining clubs and even hiding my passion for tech, comics and anime like it was porn in my closet. And it worked, all the way into high school. Until I critically injured my knee during football practice: which was the best thing that ever happened to me.
It put me in a position to lay back and enjoy the hobbies that genuinely made me happy. And it made me realize that this is who I am and I shouldn’t hide that. I should be proud of it.
So, there are those of us who are too cool to be geeks and too geeky to be in a posh crowd. Some are “too white” to be with the Black kids, but never have a secure sense of belonging with the white kids. Your tastes, style and upbringing has made you different in a way that is only individual to you. And there’s very few pains in this world than the feeling of your beautiful layers of individuality being used against you to make you loathe yourself. Even those of us well into our adulthood wander into new cities and regions looking for a place where we can find one other individual who has your taste. And the saddest situations are reserved for those of us who have to experience in their very own home town.
I know plenty of FanBros out there have experienced the overall crippling isolation of moving to a new city far from home and not knowing a single person. But, everything about you is so different that you honestly don’t know exactly how or when you’ll be capable of making a new friend again. The music is basic, the food isn’t hitting the spot, the crowds feel either overwhelming or underwhelming and you can’t even find a place for you to get a proper drink or cup of coffee. It’s enough to plunge someone into a depression where they feel like no matter how loud they scream, their voice is only on mute.
I’ve went through this a total of 4 times in life. And in all honesty, my usual advice of Knowledge of Self just isn’t enough. It takes the open-mindedness of accepting that this place will never be the last place you just traveled from and those differences should be acknowledged and respected. But, it also requires you to take a step back and realize that you need to find your niche. Personally, I absolutely abhor tourist and family locations like malls or theme parks. It’s life and excitement that’s linear, pre-planned and “on-rails’. I need to go to somewhere I can find the other people who have been outcasts of that society like myself.
In the past on this site, I’ve already spoken about what something as simple as a convention or a concert can do to change someone’s personality and give them a sense of belonging. Having the opportunity to be honest with yourself with a group of like-minded individuals is better than any therapy. But, Conventions and concerts are one weekend. So, what do you do every day?
I’m not going to tell you that you should hit up every page on Meetup.com(didn’t work for me, but I know of plenty of people whom it did). But, you should be willing to allow yourself to be vulnerable and go to events in the area and just simply ask questions. Be willing to learn something new about your environment, those around you and even yourself. But, never deny who you are. Making friends takes legitimate time, but actually going through the process of just meeting people who you may not even find that connection with immediately, can be a nice and hopeful process until you get there.
What I’m asking for is a lot, I know. It feels like a lot as I type it. But, whether we admit it or not, being an isolated misfit of society is a major part of the origin of many of the cast and crew of FanBros. And by taking a lot of what makes us feel different as inspiration, we have made art. Art that has lead us all to one another and to you. And we hope you never feel like you should be hiding what makes you special, either.
Be sure to let us know of your experiences below in the comments or at @FanBrosShow!