For the past couple of years, I have attended the annual PAX East convention in Boston. PAX events are basically fan festivals for gamers of all kinds, be it video gamers, board gamers, or whoever wants to come and nerd out for a weekend. I have mostly tagged along because my geekier gamer husband and friends were attending, but I’ve always had a pretty good time. And I’ve noticed something there that serves as a good analogy for a thing I want to talk about.
At PAX, there is a thing called the AFK Room. AFK stands for Away From Keyboard, and the room is meant to be a safe space for people to go to when they need to get away from the staggering crowds, booths, panels, noise, and overall stress that an event like PAX inevitably creates. The room is staffed with mental health counselors to lend an ear should attendees need them, or it can just serve as a quiet place for one to go when one needs a break. If memory serves, it also has beanbag chairs.
What does this have to do with the world and its suckage?
The content that I put online – be it on this blog or my social media feeds – is not about the sucky Hard Stuff. It is not political. It doesn’t tackle big issues, nor does it take a stance on said issues. I am fully aware of the mess that our world is in today, every day, and yes, I have opinions about all of that stuff and occasionally feel the need to express them because A) social media makes us feel like we should all be yelling our thoughts at top volume at all times, B) I generally do encourage the voicing of opinions if they are sound and informed, and C) as a writer for the younger crowd, I am in something of a role-model-position and I’d like to set a good example.
But I don’t post about any of the Hard Stuff. I post about writing, books, various creative endeavors, and bewildered kangaroos. If those things seem inconsequential and dumb in the face of all of the Hard Stuff out there, that’s because they are. I make no claims to the contrary. But I post these sorts of things because a) there are writers who express their views on the Hard Stuff far, far better than I can, and I encourage you to seek out and read the ones who arouse your curiosity, even if you don’t agree with them, b) I don’t want to add more fuel to an already overwhelming Opinion Garbage Fire, and c) the internet needs safe places too. It needs places where you can go to laugh and geek out over your favorite things, be they books or reluctant marsupials or what have you. I want my online outlets to be those types of places. You won’t find any yelling at clouds here or in my feeds. It’s not out of a fear of expression, or because I’m burying my head in the sand and ignoring the state of the world – it’s because I get awkward and uncomfortable with talking about the Hard Stuff directly; I prefer to do it via my books, which, we can all agree, do not skimp on Hard Stuff.
It’s okay for me to take a break, and it’s okay for you to take a break. If your social media feeds are anything like mine, they are bursting at the seams with sludgy awful gunk – and while you absolutely should stay informed on what’s going on in the world today, there’s a lot of unnecessary noise and hate whizzing around out there as well, and sometimes you just need to leave all that behind and go to a room with beanbag chairs.
Hi. Have a seat in my beanbag chair.