|Date(s):||Feb 13, 1997|
|Medium:||online (mailing list)|
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Throughout the first three decades of modern media fandom, fans mainly socialized in person at conventions or in small local gatherings. Even after email began taking root in fandom in the mid 1990s, attending a fan-run convention was often the high point of a fannish year.
In 1997, after attending an Escapade convention, lovesrain44 posted the following essay to the Virgule-L mailing list about the inevitable "post-con depression" that followed upon returning home. The essay, while light in tone in places, contains an in-depth description of the gulf that often separates the fannish from the mundane world.
It is reposted here with permission.
"I'm beginning to think I'm the only one suffering from Post-Con Depression, but I know that that can't possibly be true. So I thought I'd give a list of my symptoms to see if anyone else out there is undergoing this same kind of problem.
My awareness of my problem began about Tuesday when my college chums asked me how the con was. I started to explain how really, really cool it had been to discuss rape issues...and then I had to stop there and amend my topic to something less violent, and I switched to telling them about the panel where we'd discussed that one great story by Ellis Ward where Doyle comes across Bodie being raped, holds a gun to the rapists head and tells the rapist to pull himself out of Bodie, slowly. And then how cool it was that Doyle, putting aside his own moral constraints to call "the authorities, shoots the rapist to spare Bodie having to expose himself to trial.  Then I amended -that- (because it was still about the rape issue, it turns out) and mumbled something about self-sacrifice for the greater good, but it had far less effect without the force of a Really Great Example (as set by Bodie and Doyle, though there are other pairs) behind it. The faces of my college chums were blank. I snapped my mouth shut at that point, smiled, and said that I'd had a great time. (These are good chums and know about fandom, but having them know, and talking to them while on Con High are two different things.)
The same college chum, a very good person, suggested, later during that same conversation, that we might prepare for our Syntax class in -advance- for next week, to keep on top of the ball and everything, and can we all plan to prepare for Thursday? Well, there went my Wednesday night, when I had planned to do some fannish thing, and I was -furious- with her. Wanted to throttle her! (And I really do like her!) I said, snapping in my best Doyle manner, "Well, hey, long as we're on about it, why don't we just strap ourselves to the rack and give ourselves a turn?" She asked me, only half joking, if I was expressing some kind of hostility. And in my head, I'm thinking, you bet! Syntax is going to take away from my fan time and I am MAD!
Tuesday continued to be a Bad Day when another friend asked me if it was hard to come back to me real world. I said, "Honey, I just left -my- real world."
Course - there are other symptoms as well:
Okay, it's pretty bad for me. I mean, not everyone there was my supergoodreallybestfriend or anything, but for the most part, I shared a connection with each woman there, in some facit, and all of it through fandom. Would we have met, I wondered, looking at various people, and would I ever had the privilege of learning about you if it hadn't been for fandom? Perhaps there is a self-help group out there...not to help me get over the need for this kind of connection (they can take the remote control and my subscription to the next con out of my cold, dead hand before I ever do that!) but to help me learn to live in -this- world in between waiting for -that- world. And I'm not the walking wounded, or anything, it's just that I gotta figure a way to keep the Con Spirit in my heart all the year round, and not just at con time."
- walking down the hall smiling, remembering taking your Corona beer into the video room, plopping down with several strangers in the dark, and laying into Blakes 7, lovingly pulling the characters and set design apart, while, at the same time, holding a reverential silence when any of the characters was saying something cool.
- expecting at any time that you can pop into the con suite to grab a handful of munchies, run into someone you haven't spoken to that weekend, and end up having a really interesting conversation about the vagaries of fan writing production.
- wanting to wear the exact same shirt as about 15 other women and have that be not only okay, but exciting and fun.
- wanting to arrange your afternoon so that you can go to the panel on rape in fan writing and have a stimulating discussion about what are rape stories all about, what is it that pushes your buttons in a rape story, and how often the rape scenario is used for one character to relate to another. And then, of course, the self-sacrifice issue comes up - you know, where one character allows himself to be raped so that the other character will not have to suffer at all? Which then led to self-sacrifice in general, and there was a hair-raising snippit given by Shoshanna, about Doyle offering up his own arm to carve, so that the mad killer would not then be carving up a baby....And it's sad to think that if I rearranged my afternoon in any way, the only thing I would get out of it would be an early dinner at the campus dining hall. Not a very pleasant prospect.
- wanting to watch and discuss songvids, some that are about sado-masochistic practices and are incredibly funny, others that are about a group of soldiers in space who are dying for their "country" while at the same time not reaping the benefits from that same sacrifice. If I watch songvids -now- I watch them ALONE. I experience them ALONE. It's perfectly dreadful.
- wanting to be around people you'd prefer to be around (the fan community), and wanting to be having discussions you'd prefer to be having (fannish discussions) and getting rather pissed off and ratty because every time you turn around you see only the people you work with, the people you see every day, and not a single one of them (with a few exceptions) know anything nor give a damn about really important things such as the practically unanswerable question - is Benny a Canadian virgin or what here?
- missing hello and goodbye hugs as an everyday occurrence.
- expecting that when you meet a stranger that you'll share a common ground simply because she is wearing a button that has a picture of Bodie on it.
- sharing a hotel room with what are, ostensibly, strangers (which is a neat thing in itself, because these are friends of -your- friends, and therefore, friends of yours automatically) and by the end of the weekend, you've made new friends.
- watching and experiencing the outpouring of creativity in art, story, and songvid and wondering, well, just exactly what does everyone else do with their time? (Free time? Wot's that then?)
- feeling like you're floating in space without any connections because somehow, the con is continuing without you and you were stupid and foolish enough to come home.
- missing the heightened sense of emotion and awareness of everything and everyone around you. (Feel like I'm packed in cotton wool now.)