*It’s been 5 months since my last post. Oops. Prepare for a very long entry, or just skim if you’d like. I think my writing class on Fandoms has gotten to me, but I suddenly found the inspiration for an entry whilst doing Organic Chemistry homework, and decided I wanted to put this little opinion out to the world. Pass it around. Let it be known. And let me know what you think in the comments.*
There are a lot of people in this world. Billions of us, roaming around, trying to sort out who we are and what we want out of our lives, what we want to become. Relationships begin and end, jobs come and go-though some do last in both of these scenarios. There are very few things in life that are constant; there isn’t much that sticks with you forever. We’re lucky to find people who stay, who care, who want to be a part of our lives. But the sad truth is that there are many people that, for years, you are inseparable from, that then suddenly disappear from your life forever. Maybe you grow apart, maybe an argument ensues, maybe the relationship just becomes too much. That’s the unfortunate double-edged sword of meeting new people: someone can enter your life, but they can just as easily exit.
So how do we compensate? How do we rely on something or someone that might not be there forever? We just do. We do it because we have to believe, in our best interest, that they’ll stay. We need consistence; that fallback for when times get rough, someone to talk to, things to laugh at, people who understand. Something or someone that won’t leave our sides.
And that’s where the title of this post comes in.
As someone who devotes a decent portion of her life scouring the internet looking for the latest spoilers or conversations on her favorite TV shows or movies and looking up dates that a new book in my favorite series will be released, I know a thing or two about the fictional world. Yes, I am completely lucid in the fact that it does not exist, that actors are playing roles, that these are just characters being portrayed and/or written; but that doesn’t make parts of it any less real.
The relationship we strive for, as I mentioned above, is very volatile. You never know if it’s going to last forever, or if it’s going to end, so you have to experience it. You have to wait and see what happens.
But with the aspects of pop culture in fictional mediums, that problem does not exist. Sure, television series end or get cancelled, sometimes completely out of the blue, and it breaks your heart. And of course, sometimes the Harry Potter movies stop coming out in theaters, and you wonder what you’re supposed to watch instead, since nothing could be the same as watching the trifecta of your childhood on the big screen. Or, your favorite book series ends, and as you close the back cover after finishing the book, you wonder what your purpose in life is now that the story is over.
However, the difference between this relationship to popular culture, and that to individual people, is that these experiences can be relived. Yes, relationships can rise from the ashes, people can fall in love all over again, but this is a little different.
I can go back and watch every episode of Gilmore Girls, or Firefly, or Chuck. I can watch these incredible characters go through these crazy ups and downs, even when I know what will happen, and just be in those moments again. It’s not just memories to live off of, it’s something to actually see, to hear, to visually be a part of. Or, I can go watch Star Wars again (starting with Episode IV, naturally) and see these classic cult characters continually risk their lives and uncover drastic secrets about one another, all whilst in the futuristic world of space. I can return to my much-loved Vampire Academy novels and live vicariously through Rose Hathaway’s character of being a snarky, kick-ass girl who would do anything to protect the people she cares about, one who I can relate to better than any other fictional character in existence.
The point is, these different mediums of popular culture allow us, as individuals with way too many emotions, to have a safety net. To have something that we can rely on, that we know will always be there. That, no matter what walks of life we are going through, will be able to take us on whatever wonderful journey drew us in in the first place. An escape from real life; comfort or support through bad times; something to laugh at when you’re feeling down; a situation to relate to that you may not know how to deal with.
And that is what we want. Something that will be with us, always; something that won’t let go of us if we don’t want it to.
Many important/official people say that those who let these things delve into their lives are “anti-social”, or “wasting their time”, and even “not doing anything with their lives”. That letting these fictional worlds become this large of impact on your way of life is a mistake, a problem that needs to be solved.
I believe that those people are wrong.
There are so many people who can’t function socially before they let the world of fiction become a part of them; that’s why they turn to it. It gives them the opportunity to communicate with others about something they love, something that has changed their life, something that will undoubtedly help them become better, become who they want to be. In a world full of constant change, hate, and horrible things, these faux places are needed, more than ever, to keep us in check. That even though the real world is, well, real, life can be lived an unimaginable number of ways. That we determine how we want to live, who we want to be, and why.
I devote much of my time to the fictional world in all the mentioned mediums, yet I still have time to do activities, have a job, go to class, and somehow get sleep. And as I said, I know the ficitional world isn’t real. But knowing it’s there, knowing it will always be there, is the most comforting thing of all. Knowing that it is a type of constant in life- even if the content changes from time to time -and knowing that we can always return to what it contains, is one of the most reassuring feelings in the world.
Okay, there are people who take their love of the fictional world to far. But most people don’t, and they surely aren’t wasting their time. They definitely aren’t making a mistake by incorporating something they love into their lives, and it’s not a problem if they are happy and it causes nobody harm.
If you’ve managed to read this far into my rant, please remember one thing: the next time you see someone with a Starfleet Academy sticker on their laptop, or reading an old, tattered copy of The Hobbit, or even in the college library re-watching endless episodes of Community or Doctor Who instead of doing their homework, know they are happy. Don’t judge, don’t think they’re weird, or geeky, or anti-social; know that whatever they’re doing makes them feel better. It makes their world easier to live. And think about giving it a try yourself.
“[Stories] can show us things we didn’t know about ourselves and others. We may gain valuable new perspectives to help us to better understand our neighbors, foreigners, even our enemies.”- Rob Parnell