As geeks, most of us know what it’s like to be weird. Maybe you spent a lot of your childhood (and adulthood) wondering where you fit in. Or maybe the transition into the working world made you trip as you thought, “How am I supposed to be professional and be my nerdy self?”
For many of us, we turn to the internet. Through forums and RPGs, video games and fanfiction, geek attracts geek.
And it isn’t just online. Even in real life, geeks find each other. Geekiness is like a pheromone. Sometimes you can just look at someone and know.
When you do, it’s hard not to indoctrinate them into your fandom family. But why is it so important for geeks to have a found family?
First of all, it can be hard for non-geeks to understand us. We’re kind of weird, don’t usually conform to societal norms, and are shamelessly ourselves in a world where so many people are trying to be something else.
Second, since it’s not always easy for us to relate to society’s standards, we make our own. That’s how we find people like us. When we find people like us, we want to keep them around.
And third, there’s that sense of belonging. This is the one that, to the majority of us, is most important. As people who don’t easily feel like they belong, the feeling of finding a whole group of people who get us is surreal.
I don’t know about you, but I spent the first fifteen years of my life finding it excruciatingly difficult to make friends. It wasn’t until I met my nerdy group in high school that I really felt like I had people who cared about me and liked what I liked.
We shared anime, books, and fanfic. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the reason I’m a writer is because I started writing terrible Naruto fanfiction when I was fifteen.
I shared stories with my friends and developed my writing almost exclusively through fandom for years.
I met my girlfriend through fandom. What started with admiring each other’s writing evolved into talking about the anime we were into until we started watching it together over Skype almost every day.
In college, I joined my school’s anime club until a few of my friends and I formed a rebel anime club—it isn’t as exciting as it sounds. We spent every Wednesday—the days anime club met—watching Fullmetal Alchemist in my friend’s dorm, often late into the night.
Almost every friend I’ve ever had has come into my life by nerdy chance events.
If I hadn’t decided to go to the high school I attended instead of my town’s default, I never would have met people who permanently shaped my life.
If I hadn’t sat next to that person in Japanese 101, I wouldn’t have had a rebel anime club.
If I hadn’t joined that old writing forum, I wouldn’t have met my girlfriend.
That’s how geekdom works, though. As a geek, it’s impossible to avoid other geeks purely because you can’t hide your geekiness. At some point, someone’s going to pick it up.
Of so many communities I’ve been in or around, the geek community is one of the strongest. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your D&D group, your anime club, your writing group, or your circle of tech geeks. Through that niche interest, you bond.
While so many people scoff and tell us to “come back to the real world,” we don’t want to. Our fictional worlds bring us more joy than anything corporate life and standardized tests can offer.
Instead of beckoning us to integrate ourselves deeper into the world all of us know and often need a break from, try ours instead. Maybe you’ll find your fandom family, too.
Tell us how you met your fandom family in the comments!