“You are here. Whoever you are, however you came upon this [quote], you are here and we are lucky to have you here. And while we are here together let’s try to be kind and create spaces where cool stuff can happen.” – John Green
Warning–this is gonna be a long one y’all. I have been a long time follower of The Vlogbrothers on YouTube- ever since reading my all time favorite book, Looking For Alaska. The community that has formed around John and Hank Green, and the social media/IRL empire they have built, is lovingly known by its’ members as Nerdfighteria.
A few weeks ago I had the most wonderful opportunity to attend Nerdcon: Nerdfighteria, which essentially was a huge weekend-long celebration of the 10 years that John and Hank have been on youtube, and of the community of Nerdfighteria. When NC: NF was first announced, I was sad to just kind of write it off as something I wouldn’t be able to experience, as it was in Boston and I am: 1) not in boston, and 2) not swimming in expendable cash. Well, my friends, the empire of Nerdfighteria once again showed how truly remarkable, kind, and charitable of an entity it can be. When purchasing tickets, buyers had the option to choose to donate an amount of money to go towards a scholarship fund for community members that would not be able to afford the trip otherwise. I was very seriously emotionally moved (like actual eyes filled with tears-moved) when I received an email telling me that I had been awarded a scholarship ticket. If you want an idea of what the nerdfighter community is like, strangers deciding to just go ahead and throw in some extra money-after already purchasing their own ticket- just so that other strangers would be able to also attend, is a pretty solid example.
With the ticket taken care of, I was then able to find a group of people looking to room share for the weekend through the Facebook NC attendee group, use my moms’ airline miles (TY MOM), and grab a few (many) extra hours at work, making me all set to head on to Boston.
From the literal hour that I arrived in Boston, the tone was already being set for the weekend. Obviously I got lost, which led me to meet my first NC friend, Ryder. In true collaborative fashion, Ryder and I navigated our way through the multi-line Boston subway system, luggage and all, to the hotel where the con was taking place. (look at me using con-jargon like a real con goer!). Throughout our journey to the hotel, Ryder and I got to share our excitement and hopes for the weekend, as well as many of the other things that we are unironically enthusiastic about- both relating and not relating to nerdfighteria-. I don’t even like to make phone calls to strangers from the comfort of my own home, so the fact that this encounter even happened was a sure sign to me that this would be a weekend unlike any other.
The rest of the evening was filled with meeting my roomies, and talking/laughing/nerding on about all of the things we liked and disliked, and all of the things we were most excited to see and do over the weekend.
There is no way I could properly summarize the programmed events for the weekend. Both days were filled with panels, group discussions, Q&A’s, presentations, and activities including: art projects, activism, boardgames, Hamilton sing-alongs, etc., and just so much more. I got to see some of my absolute heroes in real life, two feet in front of me. (like seriously, I did an actual workout with John Green. We have officially suffered and succeeded together). But as John himself said, what made the weekend truly incredible was not just the amazing programming (which I do not want to minimize– it was spectacular), but instead the people. It was all of us being there, being together, being kind and authentic and interested and present. We were there, and we were there with each other. I have never in my life felt so connected to thousands of strangers–and trust me that is saying a lot, I have been to my fair share of Jonas Brothers concerts.
The weekend left me remembering how truly interesting people, places, and things can be. It reminded me of why I became so drawn to The Vlogbrothers channel in the first place, which is, at its core, a celebration and exploration of being completely un-ironically enthusiastic about people, places, and things.
Thank you to everyone who was a part of the Nerdcon: Nerdfighteria experience.