I’ve been feeling internet-weary as of late. So much negativity exists, and it wears on me that people are so angry. Yes, most of it has been related to the new Ghostbusters, but it seems every day there is a new thing that fans are raging about. Look, I get being passionate about things you love. I get annoyed when a comics publisher decides to reboot yet again or when my favorite show gets cancelled. But if I started griping about everything I proclaim to love and derive no joy from it, is the problem the things I love or am I the problem? It’s perfectly okay to criticize, but be constructive. Don’t be like that one guy who refuses to review the new Ghostbusters and throw a mild tantrum on screen. (I’m not linking to it. That guy has gotten enough traffic, and I don’t want you to waste six minutes of your life on it like I did.)
So yeah, the past few weeks I’ve really been considering heavily reducing my online interactions because I can’t take it. I can’t stand seeing people tear each other apart or become angry over little pieces of plastic. I can’t stand reading the awful, misogynistic comments people write over a comedy. I’ve had enough. But before I fully made my decision, Chewbacca Mom showed up.
If you haven’t seen Candace Payne and the joy she gets from buying a roaring Chewbacca mask at Kohl’s, take a few minutes and watch this. I’ll wait.
Incredible, right? She reminded me of everything good about being a geek, like being so excited about a purchase that you can’t wait to show the world. Crom knows I’ve filled my Instagram feed with excitement over the dumb things I love, and my favorite people to follow do the same. Sometimes I even blog about them! When I saw Candace’s video, I didn’t think about the snarky or hateful comments people could make, and she didn’t either. (Or at least if she did, she didn’t let it show.) Then something magical started to happen. Kohl’s delivered a bunch of stuff for her and her kids to play with, including Chewie masks for the whole family. She was on Good Morning America and The Late Late Show with James Corden, where she got to hang out with JJ Abrams and received a note from Peter Mayhew that he secured VIP passes and a private meet and greet for her and her family. Today, she posted a live video from Lucasfilm Headquarters. She is reaping the benefits of putting something positive out there. Some are saying that it’s overkill or that she’s garnering fame for something others have done before.
I wholeheartedly disagree with the sentiment that she isn’t deserving or at the very least unique. Why is she being rewarded for her joy? As many angry people are out there posting, Candace is an oasis for others like me who are tired of all the negativity around the things we love. She wasn’t worried about clicks or views or what people might say. She was posting a video to lay claim on the Chewbacca mask she had bought so her kids wouldn’t try to take it away from her. It was a lighthearted moment in the normal Heart of Darkness-type hellscape geekdom can be sometimes.
She inspired me to rethink my decision about stepping away from online interaction. It’s not about avoiding it so much as it is limiting my intake of negativity. I don’t want to avoid it completely, because I think it’s important to at least be aware of the opinions. However, it does me no good to scroll through pages of comments about things I want to like that others don’t. Get the gist and move on.
In no way am I telling you how to feel about Candace Payne and her infectious laughter. What I do want you to take away from this, though, is that it’s important to think about your fandom and how you interact with it online. Are you constantly posting negative reactions or getting angry about everything related to it? Maybe it’s time to walk away or remember why you love what you love.
Find your Chewbacca mask. Find something that fills you with that kind of joy. Take a picture of it or make a video. You never know who might see it or whom you might inspire.