thoughts on introducing kids to fandom

Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Another blog post? Only a day after the last, which was only a day after the last? I guess everything that happened this past weekend at WorldCon has gotten to me. And I have THOUGHTS.

There is a facebook post making the rounds post Hugo awards. Michael Rothman took his two sons the watch the Hugo awards after they'd all read and voted on them, not explaining the conflict that surrounded them this year beforehand, and they all left feeling left out when puppygeddon happened. The original post can be found here, but Brad Torgensen (one of the Sad Puppies leaders) also posted about it here.

I think if I had a chance to talk with Rothman’s kids, I would first sit us all down and watch Wil Wheaton’s speech to a newborn captured on YouTube as “Why it’s awesome being a nerd,” which you can watch below or find here

Find the things that you love and 

love them the most that you can.

That video always hits me in the feels.

Then, after we watched the video, I’d tell them that there will be times in fandom and in life that others don’t love the same exact thing that they love and that is OK. We all have had our own experiences, I am sure, of being told how weird it is to love the geeky things we do. Growing up geek was an incredibly lonely experience at times for me (as I imagine it was for many many others). We can’t control what other people do, and we can’t let adult conflicts (such as the Hugo awards) dictate how we love the things we love. I think that is a very important lesson for all of us to learn at some point. 

In this Hugo awards conflict, it is disingenuous to continually just say that the other side needs to make it better, be better, for the next generation. We ALL need to be better. I have sort of entered late into trying to understand everything going on, but I see issues in how things have been handled on ALL sides. 

My daughter (who is only 2, so a little ways off from fandom... although you could probably call her a Curious George / Sophie the First fangirl) will probably not like the same things as Rothman’s kids. She probably will not geek out about the same things as me, either. 

I can hope my mommy hope that she never ever experiences rejection and disappointment for her geeky loves, but it is going to happen at some point and there is nothing I can do about it unless I want to raise a bubble-child. Instead, I hope I can raise her in a way that she knows she can geek out about almost anything and find someone else who loves it too… and also probably find others that DON’T love it too.

Fandom/civilization/life isn’t composed of this homogeneous crowd that will celebrate the same things that I love, and that diversity of opinions and viewpoints isn’t a bad thing.

If it were me, I wouldn’t have brought my kids to the Hugo awards as an introduction to fandom. I’d find out what exactly they most want to see / do at WorldCon outside of the awards ceremony (that was only ever going to be some level of controversy) and make sure we did that instead — be it meet an author, attend a talk on something awesome and weird, go to ballroom/regency dancing lessons, check out the cool art on display and maybe bid on something original and unique, find a geeky pride shirt, learn to shoot a bow and arrow from the local LARP group, etc. I didn’t attend WorldCon this year, but those are the type of events that I’ve seen and participated in at my local cons and loved. And that is where I think cons shine as a way to introduce kids to fandom.


  1. My son who is 10 is already into fandoms. He is insane and knows more about Godzilla than I think most enthusiasts. He adores Pokemon and Star Wars and now is getting into Marvel and Mega Man. I think they just naturally seem to take a journey to their favorite fandoms.

    1. Thanks Nichole for the comment! I think the best we can do as parents is raise our kids to pursue the things they love and encourage them.

  2. I concur with Nichole. Seeing the same in my household :-)

    1. Thanks for the comment Jessica!

      I think the story of Rothman's kids tugs at ones' heartstrings a little of people in this conflict because nobody who has ever been discouraged from nerdy/geeky pursuits wants to see kids feeling the same. But I don't think an awards ceremony should be the introduction of a fandom.

  3. Finally got a chance to read this, catching up on the internet. :) I guess I can't figure ouy why this dad thought this would work out. "Michael Rothman took his two sons the watch the Hugo awards after they'd all read and voted on them, not explaining the conflict that surrounded them this year beforehand..." Don't give the kids any context, bring them to an event that's going to turn out strange no matter what?


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