I started going to anime conventions in 2002, with Otakon in Baltimore. I’d never been to such a thing before, much less any other large gathering. I’m not a music concert person, having only been to one in my life (and several mini-ones) and while I don’t have a fear of large crowds, I am not a fan of them either.
It was a so-so experience. I went down mostly to hang out with #megatokyo and #rafters folks from the old Aniverse IRC days, and the whole flying, taxis, and hotel situation seemed to complicate the experience in a way. In some respects, I am not afraid of public transportation probably because I’ve ridden trains, planes, buses, and taxis in many major cities before, so I’m not really worried about creepy folks and such, even though the threat exists. One of the reasons I don’t like Fred Gallagher of Megatokyo is for the same reason indie hipsters hate when their favorite indie band “sells out” to “the man”, in the early days, MT was a good comic and Fred was a pretty cool guy in person, but as the fame and fortune got to him, it went to his fat head faster than food goes down Gabe Newell’s throat, but I digress.
The other day I was told that past a certain age, I shouldn’t consider going to conventions anymore, that adult obligations and commitments are more important, or rather, apart from those, at my age, I shouldn’t consider mingling around high school age kids in costumes to be a productive use of my time. While the person who was responsible for this opinion doesn’t quite understand what its like to be immersed in a fandom, there is quite a bit of merit to the statement.
Cons for me started as a way to hang out with online friends, and local friends for those few trips we did. The logisitics of getting there and back was annoying as fuck, but the time there was pretty fun. By Otakon 2006, which I went by myself during my year of being single, I realized that cons for me were boring as hell without others there to hang around with. I had been staffing at Katsucon for a couple of years prior and it was fun, it gave me something to do inbetween the times I was out doing other things in the con. I’ve staffed since 2004 excluding 2009. This year I am staffing again and also for another con one of my e-friends runs in Philadelphia.
I’m not the same weeaboo that I was ten years ago, I fully admit I absorbed way too much of it and acted like a fucking fag about it. I like to think now that I simply enjoy watching, interacting with a few people/sites about it (like here) and that’s it. I don’t do cosplay, have no intentions of running a group or club, or a con, or anything that I can’t fully commit to because of either other obligations, or because I don’t want to.
The thing is, I don’t want to be one of those people that simply shuts off all their hobbies and things they find fun when they get a job and start a family, or embark on a serious relationship. I don’t have a problem having fun when I can and being serious when I need to be, and really I think people overwork themselves from not finding that balance point. You see a lot of people my age and slightly older that grew up in the 80’s and 90’s without what kids have now, but they are apt to give their kids the technology and culture of today at that age. You see folks in ther 30’s playing video games with their kids, and the thing is, I don’t want to give up what I enjoy, for kids, for my wife, for anyone. Call me selfish, but true fandom, for anything, withstands anything, and transcends age. I fully intend to take my love of giant fucking robots to the grave, come hell or high water. That’s just how it is. Will I continue to go to conventions forever? Probably not. There will be a point when more important things will supersede them, but if I have the time and the money to do so, there is no good reason for me not to if I want to.
I had better words in my mind for this earlier, probably being crowded by work, so this might get edited/expanded later.