I started blogging about anime for several reasons. Because I like it, gave me something to do, community, and to be a resource for other parents who might look at a show and ask: “What is that show about that my kid is watching?” But that is not what inspired me.
I got inspired after attending Anime Midwest last July. It was there that I felt like I really got it.The community. I watched my , then 10 year old, son ask 20 year old Fairytale cosplayers a for their pictures and the cosplayers were always happy to oblige and were really cool to him. I spoke to other attendees about their favorite shows. My older son made friends with a few other kids his age which he hung out with throughout the con.
And then there was Greg Ayres’s panel: “Why Your Fandom Sucks”. I had missed his previous one: “It Gets Better”, so myself and both of my boys made sure to attend this one. The stories Greg told were funny, if not downright disturbing at times. But more than that, there was a message: You enjoy what you enjoy, others enjoy what they enjoy. Celebrate that and don’t be a jerk. Pretty simple message. It was the idea of keeping the anime fan community as a supportive place, that appealed to me.
Many who have read my blog may have guessed that my older son is gay. He is out and has the support of his friends and family. I wish more kids had this. As someone who trained as a family therapist (I haven’t practiced in over 10 years) and worked with teens I see the need for kids to have a place just to be okay with themselves as important.
The internet, while being a great place to bring people together, can also be treacherous for many teens. The anonymity of the internet allows for greater abuse. People feel great power behind a keyboard. They can say whatever they feel like, no matter how hurtful or cruel. As an adult in my 40s I can see people who abuse others online for what they are: weak, afraid, bullies,trying to make others feel bad because they don’t feel good about themselves.
Please. Please if you are having a hard time in life: don’t listen to the negative voices of the net. Talk to a parent. Talk to a friend. If you can’t do that: find a resource online or in your community to help you. Because while there are horrible people online and in real life, there are wonderful and supportive people as well and those are the voices you should seek out.
Keep your fandom clear of bullies. Enjoy what you enjoy. Love who you love. Life is too short and precious to take hateful voices to your heart.
Now off of my soapbox….Carry on and watch more anime!
If you have other resources to help others please feel free to add them in the comments. I just ask that they are secular in nature, open to helping everyone regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual/ romantic orientation.