July 8, 2013
Oh my good gravy, this weekend was SKEPCHICKCON! For those who don’t know, this is a subset of the science fiction/fantasy convention known as Convergence. It’s a skeptical/scientific track put on by the Skepchicks with a lot of help from the Freethoughtbloggers. It is also oodles of fun. I may be biased here as I helped to plan this year’s event, but it’s definitely a lot of awesome.
With the recent event of SkepchickCon, I find myself interested in the uses of Cons and in-person organizing and gathering. We all talk to each other on the internet. We all disseminate information here. What’s the point of spending lots of money to get ourselves all together to do the same thing? Being physically present can be a powerful thing. There’s an excitement to actually meeting face to face the people you’ve read and admired from afar, as well as the swelling feeling of being around others who are energized about activism in the same way you are. It can leave you more amped up to do work than you would get from just reading a blog post.
But even more than that, being around other people lets things develop more organically. Online we get time to think about what we’re saying, and we’re kept at some distance from each other. In person, our conversations and topics drift from here to there without us ever planning or noticing it. You can get some incredibly interesting insights from these types of discussion that would never appear in a more controlled environment. In addition, you can also have a lot more fun. Now I am definitely not trying to suggest that the internet is not a fun place, but it’s hard to play Cards Against Humanity online or see Melanie Mallon’s fabulous dancing online, or get the full force of Debbie Goddard reenacting her trip to the City Museum online. You can’t hug your new best friend online either, and that can make a big difference.
Cons are really the glue of our community, as many of us don’t get to see each other in person otherwise. They cement the relationships that we begin to form online so that we can get the full force of someone’s personality, joy, excitement, and energy. They bring us together so that we can communally create that energy and power, and they give us a space to mentally play, which we are not always comfortable doing online (for good reason. Everything gets saved online). Cons allow us space to be silly and fun in a way that online activism doesn’t always allow.
I highly suggest that anyone who is able to make it to a con in the near future do their best to make it happen, because they can be amazing experiences.
About the Author: Olivia James
Olivia James is a recent graduate from St. Olaf College who is now navigating the post-college pre-grad school waters. She was a philosophy and religion major and was a member of St. Olaf's SSA. She is also an avid swing dancer, voracious reader, and all around nutjob.
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