There it is. The letter. Finally, a chance to get away from being constantly bullied by your peers, to make friends with people that share your magic, to belong to a community that accepts you for who you are. And so, you pack your bags and head off to this wonderful place, only to overhear from another in Diagon Alley:
“I really don’t think they should let the other sort in, do you? They’re just not the same, they’ve never been brought up to know our ways. Some of them have never even heard of Hogwarts until they get the letter, I imagine. I think they should keep it in the old wizarding families.”
At first, nerds seem like a friendly, accommodating lot, being fellow outcasts and all, and friends in geek culture are often as strong as Harry, Ron, and Hermione. But just when you think you were free of Dudley Dursley, you end up face-to-face with Draco Malfoy, the kind of geek who goes around flaunting his self-imposed status on everyone and insulting others in the community for being fake geeks.
I have been playing video games since the original Super Mario Bros., and I can be quite obsessive about completing the hardest challenges and collecting everything. Nowadays, everyone wants to get into them. And it’s freaking awesome! No longer are games seen as mind-rotting time wasters for people who go nowhere in life. Gamers are growing up to be scientists and surgeons, unravelling the secrets of protein folding. And now it’s an experience for the whole family, not a shameful habit with which you have to hide in your room.
But apparently, the “true” gamers don’t like that. Those “casuals” are seen as intruders, taking their hardcore games away. Even though games can be a lot of things and thus the label makes no sense. I mean, the adorable and cartoony Mario universe is seen as “hardcore”. Imagine that. One of the worst products of this mentality is that awful “fake geek girl” meme, which is so widespread, and not just in the gaming community, that it’s sad. That’s the nerd equivalent of “Mudblood”.
“You’ll soon find out that some wizarding families are much better than others, Potter. You don’t want to go making friends with the wrong sort. I can help you there.”
Just as Harry realized that some wizards go bad, so did I realize that geeks could be as bad a bully as the stereotypical popular kids. In fact, a lot of them use being outcasts as an excuse, in a way similar to how Severus Snape sees James Potter. Yeah, Harry’s dad was an ass, but taking out your bitterness on your students later in life doesn’t really solve things. Neither does being prejudiced and hanging out with other assholes get you laid, as he found out the hard way with Lily (MRAs, take note). In the end, you just become more miserable and reclusive.
Why nerds would rather be seen as outcasts is beyond me. Like Dumbledore’s Army, they are in a great position to be welcoming and inclusive to all sorts of people, even struggling wizards like Neville and strange ones like Luna. And that is the attitude geek culture should foster.
“I enjoyed the meetings too. It was like having friends.“
So 2013 has passed ending in bad weather and marginally better spirits. It is a “13” year after all. But enough about that.
When I think about my resolutions for 2014, it always seems to come back to writing, whether it be for my Master’s work, for this blog, or for other events. For one thing, I seem to have a different attitude to writing for academia compared to when I post here. With the former, I tend to be slow and anxious of what to put, while here I just go with whatever is on my mind, changing what I had originally planned mid-way when I see what I had already written. I guess aside from revisions being more important in official writing, I don’t worry as much on WordPress since I treat it as my personal diary under a pseudonym, so I don’t feel the pressure of being judged nearly as much. Obviously though, I could be a lot more productive if I wrote my thesis the way I write my blog entries, at least for the first draft. Anything to reduce anxiety could only be a good thing.
But I’m striving to write better on the blog as well, inspired by other bloggers on my side bar. When you see consistently well-written and thoughtful blog entries, especially when they reveal what you too are thinking, it sets a standard to aspire to. And that’s one of my reasons for posting my diary entries in public; I want to touch people in the same way. Even when I am feeling particularly vindictive, it’s also because I know that other people have been hurt similarly. Nonetheless, people are complex, and everyone has their own motives. To understand people is tricky, but it’s a challenge I’m willing to accept.
Last year, I discovered Alice Munro. Obviously, the Nobel Prize and Canadian pride were catalysts, but primarily those reminded me of Sarah Polley’s Away from Her. And if she could make such a great adaptation of one of her stories with such love and care, Alice must be interesting. And I haven’t read Chekhov or Falkner, but her stories are unlike anything I have ever seen before, with ordinary people having their personalities so nakedly displayed, yet with impartial narration. I would definitely like to write more about my impressions of Dear Life in a future blog post, but I have been reading the compilation slowly so each story can make an impact and I would like to get through the entire book just in case my thoughts change. But it’s true what they say about Alice Munro’s stories having the contents of novels.
In fact, I guess I always had the mind to write my own stories, but was intimidated by the prospect. Yet with so much inspiration, I think I ought to try this year. The blog would serve as a good venue for creative writing after all.
So, happy 2014, and may you all act towards fulfilling your dreams, breaking the mental chains that hold you back. I know I will do the same.