There is nothing I love more than talking about stories and storytelling with people. A mix of literary criticism, careful analysis, delighted comparison, and rampant speculation, nothing gets me as fired up, recharged, and happy as a long talk about beloved stories with someone who shares my enthusiasm. It is something that has been in short supply lately, given my isolation and what feels like the rising toxicity of the internet. Most of my friends who enjoy stories don’t really care for the level of analysis and discussion I would like, and the few places I have access to this online, there’s a degree of rabidity that makes me uncomfortable to engage with others past a surface level.
I’m not here to cast aspersions on fandoms or my friends since I haven’t the time or spoons for the former and I understand that very few of my friends approach stories with a “pick it apart and put it back together again so I can learn how it works” mindset like I do. For most people, that’s just not the way they consume stories. Most people want to just enjoy a story and aren’t really interested in enjoying a long, excited analysis of it. Totally reasonable, if a little sad for me.
The last place I had a community for this was in college. Thanks to the intersection of my friends who shared my non-literary interests and my classmates and professors who shared my literary interests, I was able to engage in fun debate and discussion about stories as often as I had the energy for it. It felt so great to be able to connect with all of those similarly enthusiastic people about things we all cared about! Nowadays, though, as media evolves, new stories are told, and I stumble across interesting intersections, I find myself with very few people I can engage about what I’ve experienced. I’m sure there are internet communities I could find to discuss these things, but I’ve had bad luck lately, only finding a community right as it’s about to tear itself apart due to toxicity, which has made me incredibly reluctant to engage in new communities.
Like my D&D curse (I have, as of December 10th, now been a player in 3 campaigns that lasted longer than 8 sessions, or 5 that have lasted longer than 3), it’s probably nothing more than an unfortunate coincidence since it’s usually the fault of unaddressed problems in communities or problems in other peoples’ relationships for the D&D thing. It is difficult to get past the anxiety, though, especially now when there is so much anxiety-inducing stuff in the world. I’ve been pushing myself to dip a toe or two into the online communities centered around the things I enjoy in hopes of making some friends, but these online spaces can be difficult to get into due to gatekeeping, community drama, and the tendency for these kinds of spaces to eat themselves alive after they reach a certain size.
Anyway, I guess what I really want to say is that you’re interested in talking about the intersection of Over The Garden Wall and the latest season of Friends At The Table via death metaphors, trains, and dark, inexplicable fantasy, you know where to find me.