You’re Never Weird on the Internet by Felicia Day

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I finished this book on December 31st and together with The Circle, The Bastard of Istanbul and Marissa Mayer’s biography, this is definitely the reading highlight of my 2015.

You absolutely don’t need to know who is Felicia Day to start reading this book (I’ve never heard of The Guild before this book, it’s even better this way, because you don’t know what to expect).

She was a socially awkward home-schooled kid, who found her first friends by playing computer games online, double majored in mathematics and violin performance in college, graduated at the top of her class, remained very why and practically friendless, and moved to California to become as actress at the age of 20. Sounds like a future genius, right?

She was sort of acting – for commercials and unimportant TV shows, got really addicted to the World of Warcraft, but then she wrote a script of a TV show about gamers and their culture and (because nobody agreed to fund the production) she and her friends decided to produce The Guild themselves out of their garages, released it on You Tube, and it turned out to be a total success. The Guild is something totally out of my comfort zone, 4-minute series that look and feel like they were produced in someone’s garage and they are absolutely hilarious. I can totally see, why it’s genius.

Felicia talks about her childhood, colleague years and early success, but she also talks about online world, gamers and how online world impacts the real one. The last two chapters are actually quite serious. One is about how to move on after an early success, when you’ve done something great and feel like you would never be able to do anything else to top it up. The last chapter is about online bullying, hackers and downsides of being connected.

In the beginning Felicia was so grateful to the online world where she could find friends and express herself:

No matter how lonely and isolated and starved for connection you are, there’s always the possibility in the online world that you can find a place to be accepted, or discover a friendship that’s started with the smallest of interests but could last a lifetime. Your qualification for finding a place to belong is enthusiasm and passion…

About the reasons of her WoW addition:

I was obsessed. I couldn’t stop myself. It was not healthy. But I couldn’t stop. It didn’t feel like there was anything else in my life to stop for. We all have periods of our life where we’re trapped, doing something we hate, and we develop habits that have nothing to do with our long-term goals to fill the downtime. Right? I hope you identify with that idea; it’s the only way I can explain becoming so emotionally invested in a video game that I would get in my car and drive around town sobbing if my internet went out.

 Why it’s OK to use someone else’s creation and build your own inspiration on it:

A lot of people mock fandom and fan fiction, like it’s lazy to base your own creativity and passion on someone else’s work. But some of us need a stepping-stone to start. What’s wrong with finding joy in making something, regardless of the inspiration? If you feel the impulse, go ahead and write that Battlestar Galactica/Archie mashup fiction! Someone online will enjoy it. (Especially if Archie gets ripped apart by Cylons.)

 How hard it was to let go of the Guild, when it was the time to end it.

 I was facing a world where there’d be nothing of ME left. That anxiety, plus the stress from working too hard on my start-up, pushed me to the edge of my own mind. I know that sounds after-school-special dramatic, but seriously, guys, I lost it … At the height of The Guild success in 2010, after season three and our viral “Do You Wanna Date My Avatar” music video, I sat down to write the next season and cried for four months straight. The pressure of everyone’s praise got to me. Not in a “Wow, they like what I did! Let’s do more!” way, but in a “Wow, they like what I did. People are expecting great things now. I don’t know what to give them to top it. Let me curl up and die now, please!” way… I couldn’t let go of the idea that my dysfunctional anxiety was the REASON for our success. Like broody writers and their penchant for hard drinking. The idea that we could succeed without my obsessive problem-anticipating skills never sunk in… I started five different new projects, then abandoned them just as quickly because I couldn’t get them done immediately to show people and get external praise. I became more and more desperate to make Geek & Sundry a bigger success…

Success is a ladder, a marathon instead of a sprint and all that crap. Everyone can TELL you stuff like that, but you really have to understand advice in relation to YOURSELF, or it’s all just nice intellectual theory.

It’s funny, its witty and insightful. And you should probably watch The Guild too, it’s already classics 🙂

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