Blogger Recognition Award

Mei-Mei (whom I share my Fan Art Friday’s with) recently nominated me for a Blogger Recognition Award.  While most of the time I don’t do these awards (who am I kidding, why did I even write that lie…I love doing them every time because I get to write about me for a bit, which is a refreshing change from Star Wars lol), I liked this one because it provides advice for new bloggers.

Rules:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  2. Write a post to show your award.
  3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  5. Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.
  6. Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated and provide the link to the post you created.

So:

  1. Thanks Mei-Mei!
  2. Here’s my post. Hi!
  3. Star Wars Anonymous started through a culmination of reasons.  I used to have a blog over on hyperspace (back when starwars.com had an official fan club where you had to pay a fee in order to have your blog hosted with them) through some of college.  When I got the notice that hyperspace was shutting down, I was too lazy to save all my posts.  Stupid me.  I took about a two to three year break (I think, I can’t actually remember) from blogging.  I began to miss blogging and considered starting up my blog again because I had very few friends to talk to Star Wars about and I was bored at work and wanted to write about Star Wars while bored.  I then made a Star Wars parody video which went semi-viral and decided that I would finally start up my blog again so that I could direct some people to my blog from the video.  Again, I was lazy and didn’t want to do too much work actually building a community from scratch.  Silly me (again) – that plan backfired and I did end up putting a lot of work into building a community of other fans on WordPress.  I’m glad I did though!  I’m not sure how my name came about though, sooooooo can’t answer that question.
  4. My two pieces of advice is this: 1) Blog regularly.  Try to blog at least twice a week for a year.  That will get momentum and help with SEO, along with helping other fans on WP/internet, find you.  Make sure that when people comment, you take the time to reply back to them.  Your blog should be a conversation that you started, it doesn’t end when you publish your post.  (Okay that was more like 3 pieces of advice).  2) If you want to become a “famous” blogger or perhaps make your blog a source of revenue – build social media accounts that relate to your blog and drive people back to it.  Social media is a great way to make your blog a business.  (No, I have not done that with my blog but I have done it for clients in my day job so I kinda know what I’m talking about)
  5. 15 bloggers?????  Uh, no.  I’ll give you two blogs that I have recently found and like though: There Has Been an Awakening and Graphic Novelty².

Have a great rest of the day guys and MTFBWY (oh, and happy St. Patrick’s Day!).

 

Social Media Bullying

I love Instagram.  I think it’s one of the greatest social media platforms out there…it took me a while to get into it but it’s now a bit addicting for me and I love scrolling through all the photos in the morning with my cup of tea.  (If I find Instagram addicting, can you imagine how I’d be with Pokemon Go?  It may be a good thing that when I’m walking I have the dog in one hand and the stroller in the other – no room for a phone.)

I rarely read comments on large social media accounts but I was caught by surprise when the Star Wars account posted a photo of some female fans cosplaying recently and I happened to read one of the comments.  The comment was not friendly so I decided to go into the comments and read more.  Maybe I’m naïve but I was surprised at how much bullying was going on in the comments.

I want to copy and paste the comments here, but then everyone will know what picture it was referring to and I’d rather not go there.

Instead, what I did was begin to scout the internet for photos of people labeled “geeks” or “nerds” and read comments where it was allowed to see what people were saying.

In one of my more popular posts, I discussed bullying and how there has been talk about how geeks/nerds are now “cool” or that since Star Wars is popular once more, being labeled as a geek or nerd is not as derogatory as it once was.

I’ve now come to realize that though there may be less bullying (if that’s even true; I’m skeptical on what the media says) IRL, the bullying has transferred to online – specifically through social media.

And why not?

cyber bully phoneIt’s so easy to bully someone via the internet.  Bullying in person means you are owning up to what you are doing and it takes a certain amount of guts.  It means that you might get caught and chastised in person.  Online allows all the people who may not bully in person, bully behind a screen and think they will never get caught.  Sure, some people may be caught, but it also allows people thousands of miles away to comment on someone they do not know or never plan on meeting.

What I’ve found from reading comments on photos online is that passionate fans are still labeled a geek or nerd but that seems to be the least of the bullying. I wanted to break it down more concisely.  (PLEASE keep in mind this just from my experience, not any kind of scientific analysis.  Also – Mr. R. says I’m overgeneralizing but based on the comments I’ve looked at over the past few weeks, I don’t think I am.)

First, let’s start with the term “geek” or “nerd”.  It can be used affectionately and I often use it proudly, but it connotes something different and is usually in reference to someone who is passionate about something that is not mainstream.

When a social media bullies uses that term, I feel like that is the first level of bullying and often the least egregious.  I’ve then noticed that it’s broken up very differently between men and women.

If there was a man cosplaying or photos of him at a convention, there were very few comments on his appearance unless the internet trolls thought he was overweight.  And what constituted overweight seemed vastly different between men and women.  If the man in the photo was overweight, then he got labeled “fat” and sometimes there were comments on how he probably lived alone in his mother’s basement playing video games.  (That image has got to go. Seriously. Plenty of men play videogames and do not live in a basement but have high paying jobs and their own place.)

But when you compare it to photos of women, the women have three levels of labels underneath the umbrella term of geek or nerd.

It seems like women cannot be only labeled as a geek or nerd.  The trolls have to go one step further and give them another label.  I found that either a woman is a “hot” geek, an “ugly” geek, or a “fat” geek/nerd.  Sometimes fat and ugly are used at the same time.

All three of those labels are an indication of their looks, as opposed to the men who only had one reference to their looks and one for their lifestyle.

Social Media Bullying

I can’t speak for men obviously since I am not a man, but I will say that as a woman, our society puts a lot of pressure on us to obtain this Western notion of “beauty” – i.e. thin, large breasts, no wrinkles, etc.  We cosplay in what we hope is a judgement-free zone and when people take photos of us, we hope that if it ends up online, the comments are on our outfits, not our looks.  (I do want to point out that there are definitely comments out there on the outfits, but unfortunately, a lot center around looks as well.)

We can’t control what other people say about us online…especially on open social media platforms like facebook, twitter, or Instagram.  What we CAN control is teaching our children about cyber bullying.  I feel like as a society, we are still playing catch-up, in some ways, to the Internet.  Only in the past 5 or 6 years has cyber bullying begun to be brought to the forefront of our attention as social media has become more of a norm in our society.

You might think that this is extra sensitive to me all of a sudden because I just had a child.  Not so.  When I was at Mount Holyoke, located in the sleepy town of South Hadley, a girl at the local high school committed suicide due to cyber bullying.  It brought back my years in middle school and how I was tormented for loving Star Wars and I wondered what it would have been like if social media was as rampant as it is today.  I think it would have been worse.  Much worse.

I’m frustrated at what I’m seeing online, especially as more and more attention has been brought to bullying in schools and how there has been a decrease of it.  However, cyber bullying still seems to happen more to females than males.  The last place I want it to happen is on a Star Wars social media account.  (In all fairness – starwars.com has been doing an amazing job with showcasing all kinds of different cosplay on shapes and figures of all sexes. The problem is with the trolls, not LFL or Disney.)

By starting early, when our children are under our care, I think this would help prevent bullying in adults.  Is it so hard to put rules around your children’s social media accounts?  I look at ARM and I think about social media and the rules that will be placed in our household revolving around it.  I know a family where the dad allowed social media, but insisted he have the password to all his 14 year old daughters accounts.  When she changed it once and refused to tell him her password, he took away her phone and shut down the internet at the house.  Is it so hard to be strict nowadays and monitor your children?  Combating any form of bullying should not just be left up to the school but should start at home.

I will be monitoring ARM’s use of social media as well.  I hope and pray that she is never one to bully others online and I intend to educate her very early about bullying.  But on top of that, I hope I raise her to be a confident woman, so much so that if she is ever bullied, she knows that she is better than any comment on an internet page.

Do I Need To Prove My Geek Cred?

This past weekend hosted one of the few semi-larger sci-fi conventions (Super MegaFest) in New England.  I did not go.  I can’t explain it…I’m feeling a little guilty, little relieved…not sure.  I’ve gone to this convention almost every year and this year I just didn’t feel like it.

For instance, last year they had Sean Astin, Sir Patrick Stewart, and both Jeremy Bulloch and Daniel Logan.  That’s an awesome lineup.  I was so excited to meet Samwise Gamgee who is pretty much my favorite character in the Lord of the Rings movies (talk about loyalty in friendship; I admire it so much) and though I had seen Jeremy and Daniel before, it had been about 8 years.

Jeremy Bulloch and I last year

Sean Astin was amazing and I even got a photo with him, which made my day.  His panel was actually with Sala Baker who did a lot of stunts in the lotr trilogy and was the man behind the mask of Sauron.  Hearing about all this behind-the-scenes jokes, moments, etc really made that panel the best one I had been to in a long time.

Sean Astin and Sala Baker

So this year had a headliner of Stan Lee, with David Prowse as the Star Wars guy.  It was tempting, don’t get me wrong.  But David Prowse is not enough of a Star Wars character to win me over and he had tons of drama with Lucas which is just not needed.  I can’t stand drama in the Star Wars world, though I do very much enjoy it on the Kardashians.  There’s a place for everything.  Stan Lee is famous and renown, but comics are not necessarily my thing…I’ve enjoyed them, but I don’t place Stan Lee on a pedestal like others do.  To top it all off, I am exhausted down to my bones.  This whole buying a house thing has me completely stressed out. Why am I writing about this?

Why am I writing about a convention I didn’t even go to?  I feel guilty, that’s why!  I can’t believe I feel guilty, but I feel as if there’s something inside of me that needs to prove my geek cred.  It’s not like this is the Celebration or San Diego Comic Con or DragonCon, which are not in my price range right now, but this was a convention right down the road from me.

Being tired doesn’t seem like a good excuse to not go to a convention, right?  C’mon…lots of people are tired but they still go to conventions.  I’m sure I would have enjoyed it, but instead I found myself making up excuse after excuse.  “Oh, David Prowse doesn’t interest me enough,” or “There’s not enough people I’m interested in this year,” or “I have housing matters to attend to,” (semi-truth, but I still could have gone) or “I have a dinner I’m going to that I need to cook for” (also a semi-truth, but the cooking only took an hour).

I can’t just say “No, I don’t want to go this year.”  Honestly, no one cares if I go or not, I know that.  But I feel the need to explain myself and validate my reasons.  I have this drive to prove myself and say, “Seriously.  I’m a geek.  Look – I go to conventions.”  Why do I not feel confident in myself?

A lot of it is driven by twitter and facebook.  I’m always faced with people I follow on twitter live tweeting about conventions or talking about the NEXT convention they’re going to (like they haven’t already attended 5 or 6 this year).  Facebook is filled with geek acquaintances in the area who were all posting their status relating to SuperMegaFest, and then later, full of tagged photos of them at the convention, along with their super-fun after parties.  It creates this insecurity within me and that by not going, I have declared myself not geeky enough to be part of their social clique.  I’ve read so many articles about how online social media actually, in turn, can have a devastating effect of making someone feel more left out.  That’s exactly what is happening to me.  Though I feel generally immune to this feeling, conventions are my Achilles’ Heel.

Yet, anyone who knows me, knows how much I love Star Wars and knows how much I know about a lot of different sci-fi realms (excluding Star Trek, sorry.  Not a Star Trek fan).  In fact, compared to almost all my close friends, I know too much and I’m just a tad bit weird.  They wouldn’t bat an eye if I said I didn’t go to SMF.

So is there a solution to this?  Do I go to every sci-fi convention that I can?  Do I close my twitter and facebook accounts?  Or, more simply, do I only go to the conventions that actually interest me and not go for the “geek cred”?  That’s the easy, yet terribly hard solution. P.S. At the dinner I went to this weekend, someone in marketing and someone in advertising were having a discussion and they brought up how blogs are “supposed” to be 600 words or less.  I apologize to everyone reading my blog who has had to struggle though 600 words or more.  😉

P.P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers in the USA (sorry, Mark).