It can be really difficult for someone first trying to break into a new hobby, especially when that hobby involves packs of nerds. Being around a group of nerds that love a particular subject can be a very intimidating experience, especially if they aren’t particularly fond of letting outsiders into their midst.
In my experience, some groups want to make others feel ridiculous for not knowing whatever asinine thing that they know, regardless of the fact that they have been hopelessly hoarding every tidbit of knowledge they could smuggle into their parents basement for the last decade and you have been interested in the subject for a month or so. It can all be very imposing (emotionally more so than physically). You don’t want to feel stupid so you just slowly withdraw your attempt to get into whatever it is you wanted to get into.
There is a sign in the parking lot of the airsoft field that I play at that says, “Don’t be a Dick.” I think it’s about time all of us in the nerd community (from those that know less than Jon Snow to those that know more than the Watcher) heed this advice and realize that we are a part of a bigger community and there is no reason we can’t all share our interests (Your fandom is not a finite thing – letting people into it will not leave less for you).
I am slowly working my way into comic books (I even started my own pull list at my local comic shop – or LCS as the hipsters call it). Comics have been around for a LONG time and knowing where to start feels impossible figure out. Trying to pick a starting point feels like walking into the Jedi Archives and looking for one book in particular without the help of the Star Wars equivalent of the Dewey Decimal System.
Lucky for me, my friends that were already into comics have been welcoming, and the guys at ComicCollectorLive.com: the Store have been awesome. Not everyone has this experience, however. There are those that cling to their fandom and are vehement that only they and theirs may partake in it. They use their knowledge and off-putting personality as a roadblock made of condescending comments and arrogance, and that, my friends, is ridiculous.
Are there legitimate arguments for not allowing others into your fandom? It’s not like it hurts you in any way (except maybe the fact that it involves more people you have to socialize with). If anything it would be more economically viable for your interests to become a commercial success so more resources will be poured into it, in turn creating more things for you to have. It’s a win-win scenario, really.
Earlier this week, Shandi (neighbor, friend, wife of Stephen (she’s a saint)) wrote about the inclusiveness of certain nerd communities and how accepted that made her feel. I think it’s important that as a community we are mindful of the effects both our exclusivity (bad) and inclusivity (good) have on others and try to be more accepting of newcomers. Who cares if that girl you know only reads Loki: Agent of Asgard because of Tom Hiddleston — you were introduced to characters by other people too.
This is why I call for a new age of civility among not just the nerd communities, but also those attempting to enter the labyrinth of nerdity. Be kind to those asking for your advice on which comics they should get into; don’t be a jerk to that kid who’s trying to build his first Magic: the Gathering deck. This not only makes your own interests more economically successful for the people that put it out there, but it also gives a better name to nerd culture as a whole.