I just flew in from Seattle, and I had a great time. In many ways it was one of the best cons I've been to. For my own part, everyone I met and encountered, from staff to attendees to VAs to friends old and new, were positive and the people incredibly kind and brilliant. I was witness to countless incidents of generosity and honesty and solidarity. Rarely have I smiled so hard or as often in the company of so many good people and admirable fans.
But, sadly, it seems not every experience this past weekend was so positive.
Before My Little Pony I had no real experience with the concept of fandom beyond what I read with horror, and, admittedly a certain amount of amusement on internet websites and forums. But here I am, happily lost in a sea of technicolor unicorns and pegusi. I can't say I've been part of the MLP fandom since it began, I was actually somewhat late to the world of ponies. But I have seen it grow from a relatively small and tight-knit community, to an impressively sized internet and real-world population of fans
It is a double-edged sword, I suppose, that as we grow in number and presence, so too do the percentages of the socially maladjusted grow within the ranks. I would say most fandoms have a problem with their own dark side. The very idea of belonging to something, of latching on to an established community is by definition appealing to those with little success with or understanding of interacting with others. Fandom offers a ready-made group one can belong to, with no real necessity for admission or check and balance upon membership. This is good, wonderful really, in that a fandom welcomes all who find love and comfort in a specific show or character or movie or comic or whatever-may-be.
With ponies, that propensity toward solidarity, I think, is even more evident due to the themes of the show and the ideals to which fans aspire. But it also means, really and truly, anyone can declare themselves part of the whole. It means the most noble and the most depraved and everyone in between will be found within our number- commenting on websites, creating artistic content, and even attending conventions. The drive to be part of a social community is not mutually dependent upon the means to actually function in one. There are those who simply want to hurt and deride others and will seek out others for trolling and mockery and shaming and all manner of mistreatment because, sadly, that is often the nature of the internet and, consequently, the communities that spring up around it.
With that in mind, it is up to us to represent the very best of ourselves at every opportunity. We must stand up for integrity and stand against cruelty and bullying. At worst, there are those who behave inappropriately and with darkness in their hearts and souls. But no better are we, when confronting such behavior with indifference. Never stand for your fellow fans being mistreated or mistreating one another. Never love the fandom above the hearts and feelings of real people. And never tolerate injustice where there should be always kindness.
To those who have been maligned or mistreated by members of the brony community- I extend my own apologies, meager though they may be. I am sorry for the behavior of those fans whose actions are beyond explanation or reproach. They do not deserve your forgiveness nor reconciliation nor pity and I deeply regret your brush with such unconscionable actions.
In a few more days, I'll write up my own experience at Everfree NW. For now, I'm still exhausted from three days of working the vendor hall and many more of preparation beforehand. Not to mention no small amount of travel fatigue.
I hope everyone is well and I will talk to you all soon.
PS- I have heard that many reports of bad behavior at Everfree is the false reporting of a particular troll. I suspect as much, at least to a degree. It never made sense that all these terrible huge things were taking place, without panic or police involvement or any kind of word of mouth within the con itself. I saw nothing, absolutely nothing approaching ignorance or misbehavior in all three days in the heart of the convention.
That said, it is certain some unpardonable behavior took place. It is simply a fact that there are those who do not know or possibly care how to behave as rational members of society, and I'm sure they are drawn into our community for their own reasons, both honorable and profane.
Whatever the case, however widespread the misbehavior, the sentiment concerning our burden of responsibility for our own behavior and personal leadership still stands.
More to the point, as I mentioned, the larger a group becomes, the more likely it will attract misbehavior- and as this incident reveals, those threats can come from without AND within. Let's always be vigilant and do our best to represent the very best of ourselves and the silly pony show we love.