RonO (rono_60103) wrote,

I Could *Almost* See Myself Gafiating at the moment

Last night, after having been to a convention where I had a less than normal good time, and reading about the issues at Baycon which seemed a bit too close to some issues with DucKon (issues that, for what it is worth, I'm very frustrated and torn by -- I've got good friends on both sides and suspect that there is more than enough right and wrong on both sides to go around), there was a while that I was almost seriously thinking about gafiating, at least for a while.

In the light of morning, I see that some of this is probably because I'm tired and frustrated. And very likely some of it is because of the balance of the chemicals in my brain. So I'm certainly not making any plans to either quit attending cons, nor stop helping with the cons (and related activities) that I'm committed to.

But, I can see from this that there are a couple of risks:

First, if the members of a convention aren't having fun, they are less likely to come back, and less likely to offer to help out. Of course what makes a con fun for one person doesn't always work for others, so the planers need to balance this out. In spite of the fact that I seem to make fewer and fewer programming items each year, much of my enjoyment at cons comes from the programming. So I see this as a key area.

In many cases, I can differentiate between poor programming and programming that isn't what I'm interested in -- although I'm not sure which was the case last weekend, I'm hoping it was the second. But if the programming isn't well organized, or misses the interests of too many of the members, the con can loose members.

For fans whose main enjoyment comes from other areas, I'm sure the same factors apply.

But what this means for organizing committees is that if your con is known for something (programming, the big party con, a fun place to hang out with friends even if nothing else is going on, etc.), you better make sure that you treat that part as gold and do everything you can to preserve it without destroying the rest of the convention in the process. Otherwise, you may loose the fans who used to enjoy that part. I know I've seen plenty of con reports and discussions that end with something along the lines of "based on this year, I don't think I'll be back." (FWIW, I think I wrote one yesterday).

Second, there is a danger to individual cons, and fandom in general, when we spend too much energy fighting. Of course we are human, so we are subject to emotions, self interest and all of the other baggage that comes along with that. And, as I've said (at least to my self) on several occasions: as soon as a group exceeds two in size, politics can develop.

And small community politics tend to be nastier than broader politics, and the emotional scars of these can be bigger and deeper. There are probably fewer people who stay mad at a former friend who chose to vote for a different Presidential candidate, then there are people who stay mad as a former friend because they sided with "the other side" in some fannish (or similar small community) dispute.

But at a time where many of us see, and fear, much of our hobby dying due to non-political fracture (i.e. the idea that the Media fen will only go to media cons, the gamers to gaming cons, the furries to furry cons etc.), anything else that fractures our community is distressing. And I, for one, at times am more likely to feel I need to leave a group to avoid that kind of distress, than stay.

OK, I've both expressed my emotions and vented a bit about them (at least in broad strokes). Hopefully this will make me feel a bit better (although it's having the opposite effect at the moment)

(And I hope I'm spelling "gafiating" correctly. For some reason the Chrome spell checker doesn't know this word)

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