What Do You Gain?

So…back from an extended hiatus. Let’s get right to it.

One of the biggest questions that I often have, especially when it comes to certain arguments that are better off not being had, is this:

What do you gain?

I’ve asked this question in a few different contexts, but this question most especially applies to a fandom which recently came across my awareness. The fans of this show, currently on a cable network, have two different & needlessly warring “factions”: one faction believes that the two stars of the show are together as husband and wife, the other faction does not.

When you remove all the politics, the bad behaviors, the melodrama, and the various Tumblr blogs of TOTAL OUTRAGE about this matter, that’s what the “war” is really all about: a bunch of people who have never met each other are all fighting with one another, nearly to the death, because of a dispute over the private lives of two people whom have no personal connection to anyone involved in this “war.”

If that sounds completely stupid, and defies all sense of logic & reason in your head…it’s because it is.

And what should further boggle the mind is that the people involved are older than me — in some cases, they’re women who are old enough to be grandmothers.

Not that being older precludes your ability to make mistakes — as my mother once told me, the only difference between making mistakes when you’re older, versus making mistakes when you’re younger, is that your brain takes longer to process the fact that you’ve fucked up — but one would think that with age comes the ability to discern reasonably, to not be reactionary, and to pick your battles wisely.

So what do you gain?

— -

And all I can ask, and have asked, is simple: WHY?

If you’re right, and they’re dating/married/have children, what do you win for being right?

If you’re wrong, and they’re not dating/married/have children, what do you lose for being wrong?

I’m serious: what’s at stake here in this battle royale?

Do you win a puppy if you’re right? I love puppies — I wanna rescue all of them. Can I win a puppy?

Or how about a dinner? A cash prize? A color TV? A Game of Thrones box set? A trip to Borneo? A pair of tickets to see Barry Manilow?

What do you gain?

I’m not knocking fandoms, mind you. Indeed, how can I: I’ve been a Star Wars Warrior for as many years as I’ve been alive, and I’ve been a Star Trek Trekkie for about the same number of years.

Personally, I’m glad that fandoms aren’t looked at as an oddity, anymore — the space reserved for misfit nerds & socially awkward INTJs like myself — because having the fandoms of Star Wars and Star Trek gave me a place to belong, especially in a world full of dizzy girls who were more concerned about being pretty and popular cheerleaders than about being intelligent and accomplished scientists.

I get all that. I get why people need to feel like they’re a part of something.

But I can’t remember the last time any fandom I’ve been a part of — or any fandom I’ve heard of — engaged in such warfare with each other on such a mass scale. Sure, there were a few people in the Star Trek fandom who were at each others’ throats over a Kirk/Spock “ship” in the very beginning, but that was long before I was even born, so I can’t say I ever experienced that.

And I sincerely cannot remember a time when people in the Star Wars fandom were ready to tear each other apart, even if we admitted that no, Jar Jar Binks really wasn’t that bad (no, really, guys — he wasn’t). A bit of bickering, yes — a few spats here and there, sure — but it was over as quick as it started, and we all became united in our front to enjoy Star Wars together.

We welcome people of all kinds — whether they’re there because they know that a parsec is a unit of distance, not a unit of time; or because they’re there because Harrison Ford/Han Solo(or Freddie Prinze Jr./Kanan Jarus) strikes their fancy in a special way.

We don’t rip each other apart debating whether Han & Leia are (or were) in a relationship in real life. We could care less if you’re Team Luke or Team Han. No matter our differences, we all love Star Wars, and that’s what it needs to be about.

Fandoms were designed to bring people together, not tear them apart. I’ve made some of the best friends I’ve ever have in my life thanks to the Star Trek and Star Wars fandoms. I’m as successful as I am today in no small part thanks to the Star Wars and Star Trek fandoms.

As a nerd who found great solace in fandoms, especially at a young age (when it really mattered the most), seeing this sort of behavior saddens me. This sort of nastiness doesn’t need to happen in the first place. With all the nastiness going on in the world, what’s the point?

So once again, I have to ask…

What do you gain?

— -

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, and on this site, I’ve had some pretty awesome victories and accomplishments in my life. I’ve done what most people can only dream of, and I did it on my terms, and I have no regrets about any of it.

But with those awesome victories and accomplishments comes the other side of the labrys, as well. I’ve lost some people whom I loved more than anything in this world. I’ve seen addiction claim some of the best minds & talents of my generation. I’ve watched, helplessly, as many a meteoric rise was tempered with an even more meteoric fall because of poor decisions, arrogance, or both. And there are many things that I look back on and say, “I could have handled that A LOT BETTER than I did at that time.”

I won’t even discuss the emotional toll being in an abusive relationship took on me. I already discussed it, at length, on this very site.

And through it all, I’ve emerged with one sense of something that’s really important: NOT EVERYTHING IS WORTH FIGHTING OVER. In fact, the ability to be a mature adult is almost exclusively predicated on which battles you choose to fight.

Given all that’s going on in the world, is it really necessary to fight over this?

And taking it one step further: do you really think it’s appropriate to infringe on other people’s lives — including these two people in question — with your lines of thought in either direction?

Do you think it’s necessary to call up the places where they work — and where other people work — to vent your frustrations because they don’t see things the way you do?

Do you think it’s essential to take up countless amounts of web space to devote screed after screed of how IMPORTANT this relationship (or lack thereof) is to you — sending Tweet after Tweet, message after message, to these people who have been rendered as little more than objects to you?

Do you ever take a second to self-reflect, and ask yourself how you must come across to an outsider looking in on you? A potential employer? A potential date? Your kids/grandkids, who are most definitely online, and who would be mortified to see Mom/Nana carrying on like this?

If you didn’t know you, and all you saw was your social media feed, would you want to know you?

I ask this of both sides.

Because I don’t have a proverbial horse in the race.

I know what the real story is, so all the rest of this fighting is irrelevant to me.

I don’t ask for my benefit. I ask for yours.

Throughout my life, I have looked to many women to serve as role models & guides — because more than anything, I admire the fact that the women before me have had to break down impossible barriers that I wouldn’t ever have dreamed of facing — all so I, and others like me, could lead the life we wanted to lead.

And I’m not alone in this.

So I ask you, women: is this the sort of example you want to set for your daughters and your grand-daughters? If your daughter, or grand-daughter, behaved the way you’re currently behaving now, would you be proud of her behavior, and encouraging her to continue?

I ask all this in all sincerity, because after everything I’ve been through in my personal life after nearly four decades, and after everything I’ve been through in my professional life after nearly two decades, I really need to know the definitive answer to this one very important rhetorical question:

What do you gain?