thinking about starting a wordpress blog that will be sort of ~professional~ (i’ll port a few of my better healthcare/patient advocacy-related posts/rants from here there, and then also use it to respond to articles, review books, and talk about work I’m doing) still trying to figure out how to draw the line between my day job and this other stuff which is a bit more patient advocacy focused, but the lines are very blurry b/c i am a nerd whose work is also her hobby
suggestions for blog names? the blog will be entirely about the healthcare system, but with a huge smattering of stuff - patient centricity, evidence-based medicine, and really just anything that gets me riled up
is this even a good idea??
30 thousand feet of unstable air now separates the earth and me. This pillbox fuselage hurdling east does so on a tailwind of lost time. I, the reluctant yet complicit junkie of a new media culture now scramble for a signal in this once protected space. Coming up empty, I find myself alone with a screen, a keyboard and an opportunity. Moments before this flight departed, the renegade vessel I assembled to reconnect my creative wires to the masses loaded the catapult with new music once again. This drill has become something of a weekly terror for me. Under the cover of darkness I clawed my way through a mission; New sounds, new words, new truth all strung together by the tenuous threads of collaboration to reconstitute a new version of me. With each passing week I come closer to that mission’s unveiling and with each week I find another piece of my clothing stripped away. Does any of it really matter? In the grand scheme of things…No. So why? Why do it? Why do anything? I suppose, because I must. I’m hungry; hungry for the alchemy, hungry for the praise. Hungry for the feeling that I am not alone with these thoughts. Hungry to be a human in a universe that recognizes myself in my neighbors. I made a choice a lifetime ago; a choice to broadcast. To take everything I could confess in a quiet room, mold it with melodies and simple structures and turn it over to anyone who would listen. What a wild notion. Still, as with any object, form, thought, or idea this universe can conjure, what I do falls into two categories. It is at one moment a miracle and in another completely irrelevant and fleeting.
Yesterday I walked my sleepless, 7 month old daughter to the beach in a contraption that makes it possible for me to do so without the use of my arms. A device that effectively binds us together as a single mass in hopes that she might forget she is a lump of rapidly dividing cells in a world too expansive for either of us to comprehend. In doing so, she is able to synch to the rhythm of my gait and the rhythm of my hopeful calm. If the timing is right, she falls asleep and I become the ears and eyes for both of us. By the time we reached the bluffs she had given in. I was free to scan the beach below and the seas beyond, where young men, far braver than I, used the turning ocean tides as a playground for unthinkable feats. Despite this masterful display I was taken by the sight of two women occupying a blanket to the right of a lifeguard tower. Perhaps it was their shapes that drew me in but it was the motion of those shapes that caused me to linger. As my daughter dreamed, her nose and mouth pressed firmly against my chest, heaving humid breaths passed my shirt to my skin, I was reminded of the world she will grow up in. As the shapes below obsessively posed and reposed themselves before their own extended arms, hoping to construct the perfect image of their already perfect selves, I became aware of a game I have played for years. I too, have attempted to project an image of myself to the world, worthy of my own self image. The beauty of this game is that much like the culture I now count myself a part of, my construction is only evidence of my insecurity. The tailored images we edit, magnify and broadcast only prove our imperfection; Our weakness before the gods, our failings and successes in the face of a nature far greater than all of us combined. As I zeroed in on the sands below I paused. In one breath I was horrified for my little girl to grow up in this and in the next I was heartened that she would be gifted with such an opportunity. The next breath reminded me that as everything changes, everything remains exactly as it was. This is the reality I meet head on as I slingshot these songs and my kin into a new world.
The images fade and I take a sip of my cocktail. The simple, potent concoction reaches my lips and thinning blood as the flight attendant leans in to remind me, the wifi is now up and running.
i use the word constructive a lot, sometimes i feel like it’s almost hokey to use it a lot, but i think the difference between discourse being constructive and/or destructive is good to keep in mind.
a lot of folks are very good at tearing things and people down, which certainly has its uses. for example i’d be lying if i said i didn’t delight in knowing that sam pepper’s sexual harassment media enterprise is starting to unravel. there’s plenty of reasons to know your way around destructive action.
but i also like to build, and reshape, and patch up, and see to it that new, better things happen in place of or as improvements to older, less good things, and i am much more interested in myself being a part of that process, when the opportunity arises.
I’ve been thinking a lot about nerdfighteria and what it is and what it means and where it’s going and etc for quite a while now. This seems like a good time to write about this, as it’s coming to the forefront of conversation with John and Hank’s last couple videos.
The big questions, I think, are how we should think about what this community is and what it can be.
And with thanks to baldhankgreen for helping me articulate/formalize my thoughts, I think the answer lies in the title of this post: The Point of Being a Nerdfighter is Other Nerdfighters.
Now that’s a broad, nebulous statement that doesn’t really mean anything, but I hope it can serve as a useful guiding principle, a compass of a sort to point the way. For me at least, it helps articulate the concept I have of what it means to be a part of this community and how to orient myself as a member.
The first way I think about this idea being useful is with respect to the role/position that John and Hank have. First of all, I think it’s critical to note that they both call themselves nerdfighters and consider themselves part of the community. It’s not that the people who are fans of them are called nerdfighters – its that all of us are a part of this thing together.
Nothing happens if it’s just the two of them. Nerdfighters invented the term nerdfighter; nerdfighters made every project happen. They made TFiOS happen, they made Dave Green happen, they made clean, sustainable water for 10,000 Ethiopians happen. Of course, in a way, none of this would happen without them, but in my ideal conception of the community, they are on as much of a peer level as possible and whenever possible they are serving more to amplify the overall thoughts and values of the community and to guide and organize our collective efforts. They would be the central hub that various components of the community (vlogbrothers, the wimbly womblys, pemberly digital, nerdcrafteria, forums, etc) touch but they would just be two more points on a massive interconnected web. Having a single point of reference to centralize and organize resources is great and important, but they are not necessary for great nerdfighter projects, or gatherings, or conversations, or anything.
This is critically important for several reasons. It puts nerdfighters who are not John and Hank in a position of much greater power as we have control and agency in the community to start zines and tumblrs and to populate the little sub-communities that have arisen and to make IRL nerdfighter friends. It means that we can disagree with John and Hank, and we can talk about that disagreement with them them and other nerdfighters, but also that we don’t need them to start a conversation about how things could be different and better, and to act on that within the community.
I think and hope that this principle will also help orient folks away from the sort of hero-worship that gets one focusing entirely on getting noticed by John and/or Hank. Now, I’ll be honest here: this is coming from a person who has been reblogged/replied to by both John and Hank, and who looks up to both of them a great deal, so I completely understand the impulse to desire validation and recognition from the people you admire so much. And I know what it’s like to imagine that one reblog will turn into being followed, will turn into being remembered at a signing, will turn into a best friendship. Trust me, I totally wish I could just hang out with either of them for like four hours and tell my whole life story and crack jokes and hear about their childhood aspirations. But there are close to a million of us- that kind of relationship isn’t realistic or even really a good idea-for them or for us. It takes a lot of thought and a lot of imagining complexly to realize and internalize this enough to not feel like the only point of making something nerdfighter-related (videos, art, essays) is if John or Hank sees it.
But, if we imagine that the point of nerdfighting is other nerdfighters, we can think about creating things that other nerdfighters will love and getting excited about their reactions and responses and the opportunity for a reblog or a reply to turn into an incredible friendship. And that is the kind of stuff that makes for a robust and interesting community.
I think the guiding principle of focusing on other nerdfighters also makes this a better community because it emphasizes the ways we need to welcome each other in and care for each other. It provides the opportunity to teach each other and learn from each other.
In my own experience, the times I am happiest and proudest and most grateful to be a nerdfighter are when I feel like I am a part of something good and useful and when I see others reaching beyond the limits of themselves to join in, and when I am doing the same. It’s when I found P4A videos made by middle school nerdfighters and got to leave awesome comments encouraging them. It’s when nerdfighters who had experience with the charity I chose for P4A found my video and commented. It was when I spent an evening scrolling through literal hundreds of posts of people with stuff on their heads and laughed at the creativity and absurdity and beauty of this many people from all over, each with totally unique lives and perspectives, coming together to do something goofy and awesome. I saw people who said they often had a hard time feeling comfortable posting selfies, but for this they would, or people who had never participated in a nerdfighter project before. At that point, I loved the project not because it was in a vlogbrothers video but because it was pulling me outside of myself and reminding me to stay creative and childlike.
And its the water.org comment from a donor who said they got $5 from the tooth fairy and their parents contributed $5 more and they were donating it all to help people in Ethiopia get clean water.
To me, nerdfighter is a values-based identity - it is a set of things I believe in, among them: being unironically enthusiastic, valuing nuanced, well-reasoned conversation and a deep engagement with the problems and complexities and knowledge in the world, imagining complexly, and trying hard to orient myself outward and work to create and build and equalize so that the world is a bit better than I found it.
But these aren’t things that I believe because I’m a nerdfighter; nerdfighteria helped me articulate them for sure, but I believed in most of them before I was a nerdfighter, and before nerdfighter was a thing that one could be.
It is a joy and an honor to be able to join in with like-minded people and to be brought together when before we were scattered, and may have even felt like outsiders because of the the beliefs and interests that, as nerdfighters, make us insiders. This is a community and a conversation, which is wonderful, because it gives us all so much opportunity to connect and create and make change. But it also entails a responsibility to think critically about how we shape the culture of this community so that it becomes all that it can be, and that it continues to consistently produce everything that is best about it, and reduces and eliminates all that is negative about it. For me, it seems the best way to stay pointed toward that goal is to remind myself: The Point of Being Nerdfighter is Other Nerdfighters.
I sincerely look forward to hearing what you all have to say.
folks coming in from twitter now. hey! main priority at the moment is to plan some type of Community Think Tank. first thing’s finding a venue for it. love to hear suggestions. thinking about something less feed-ish and more forum-ish. message me here or @reply/DM me on twitter @vondellswain. let’s do this!
hey, i talk to both john and hank often and i want to engage in (and be a major part of) an open and constructive community effort to get to the bottom of all the issues that are still left to get to the bottom of.
i see a lot of really good discourse on here but hank and john very rarely do because both of their tumblr experiences are so saturated with people messaging and @mentioning them with just either hateful vitriol or just total nonsense for kicks (not to mention the noncritical background chatter from many thousands of other people) that tumblr is largely not a constructive accessible place for either of them to make any good sense of what is going on with community discourse here regardless of how much they’d like to, which i understand to be a lot.
the kind of critical detailed discussion that i’ve seen here has been largely absent from other less echo-chambery platforms like twitter and youtube (and e-mail).
i want to try to make this dialogue process more efficient and productive for those of us involved in the conversation who actually have any desire to put in work to improve the community and to have constructive conversations about creator responsibility and accountability, etc in a way that’s not routinely dominated by people who don’t actually give a shit about the well-being of the youtube community and just want to vent frustration pseudo-privately into the void.
it’s fine if you don’t give a shit about the well-being of the youtube community and have no interest in being an active part of the dialogue because you’re totally done with giving a shit about anything related to youtube, especially youtube content creators, especially in light of everything. i can understand that. i get that. i have nothing against that. not everybody is going to be personally engaged in this issue. that’s fine.
but there are a lot of us who do still give a shit and can envision a healthier, more responsible, safer, and more well-informed youtube community, or nerdfigher community, or network of creators, etc, and who are willing to actually bring those complex and often difficult to navigate discussions to places they’re most likely to be heard.
i don’t want to argue with people about whether pushing for more constructive and more direct discourse makes me a worse activist than people who ‘aren’t afraid’ to bypass any notion of constructive action in favor of openly shaming not only anyone who engages with hank and john but also anyone who suggests that straight up unnecessarily hateful posts and messages on tumblr could ever do any real harm to the cause of making communities i and many other people care about safer and more responsible faster and more efficiently.
i want to talk about YouCoalition, the task force of survivors and professionals working to combat sexual abuse in the YouTube commuity that hank and john set up immediately after the relevant events this summer. i want to talk about what it’s done well, i want to talk about how to improve it, i want to talk about how to make sure anyone knows about it at all and how to make sure it’s a responsible community resource.
i want to talk about the things that hank and john HAVE said on the vlogbrothers channel specifically about sexual assault and consent in light of abuse in the YouTube community. i want to talk about what they handled responsibly and what was handled clumsily and what left more to be desired.
i want to have critical and open dialogues between creators and community members to try and figure out exactly what specific responsibilities high-profile youtube creators have, or ought to have, in the many different and distinct situations that can arise when other creators abuse, exploit, or otherwise take advantage of others, or when they produce content that is derogatory and harmful. and i want to try to work that stuff out with people who are familiar with even the most vague details about what the community looks like. it’s hard to really get into constructive discourse when you have to remind people basic shit like that john and hank are not the founders of the youtube community or that john has about as much to do with running vidcon as i do (nothing).
i want to push community discourse that actually engages with the resources that have been set up and created specifically for community discourse. like i said, i want to talk about the dedicated sexual assault task force and what it’s doing and what it could do. i want to talk critically about vlogbrothers-funded efforts like Sexplanations, a youtube channel hosted by lindsey doe aimed at getting good information about sex, consent, and identity to young people in the YouTube community. I want to talk about Kelly Kend and her Yeah Maybe, No documentary on sexual abuse and consent, the first project funded with the nerdfighter indie creator grant via the new preroll ads Hank and John’s youtube channel.
i want to stop pretending hank and john aren’t doing anything in response to creator abuse on youtube so we can actually focus on improving the reach, scale, and efficiency and quality of the things they are doing. i want to be able to suggest new things, new approaches, new ways of thinking about responsibility and accountability, etc, without implying that the ways that they have actively engaged with the issue have been meaningless, because they haven’t. a sexual assault task force comprised not of youtube creators but of a diverse team of survivors and professionals is, pardon my french, a fucking fantastic resource, and it could be even better if more people had any idea it existed or had any interest in engaging with it. Sexplanations is one of my favorite channels on youtube and it has a lot to do with the fact that lindsey is not hank or john, she’s someone who knows her shit and educates about sex, consent, health and gender for a living. i’m very interested in what kelly kend is working on as well. i consider myself pretty well engaged in the community and i didn’t even know that was happening until yesterday.
obviously not everything can be solved by funding responsible and constructive educational resources with youtube money, but if we’re talking about john and hank ‘making big bucks off young fans’ i want part of that conversation to be about where that money goes, and anyone who’s been paying close attention to vlogbrothers sister and child projects knows how many positive and genuinely constructive places that money is channeled into. and i’ve only mentioned the projects and resources directly related to the issue of sexual abuse on youtube.
i’m just tired of having conversations that bypass even mentioning this stuff, whether because it makes it more complex to talk about (it’s very easy to make your point when you’re pointing at cardboard cutouts of john and hank with devil horns drawn on) or because people just genuinely are not aware of any of this stuff.
i’ve seen a lot of positive and constructive discourse here, particularly by other people intimately invested in the youtube community. i can’t tell you how much i’ve appreciated hearing creators and community members like lex and hayley and franchesca and anthony and lindsey w. and morgan and ann and plenty of others routinely starting and engaging in pointed and critical discussions about this stuff, on and off youtube, that’s clearly rooted in genuine concern and care and drive to improve a community or group of communities that we all want to take active roles in making safer, more responsible, more aware, and less shitty.
what i want to discuss with everyone engaged in that camp is: where on earth can we talk about this stuff more efficiently? a forum? a google group? how do people gather in non-endless-void-newsfeeds anymore?
i know we want to talk and i know hank and john want to talk too, and more importantly, to listen. and i think that if we can find a better way to get down to business we can really start seeing some positive effects. if you want to figure this out with me i want to hear from you. you don’t have to be fans of hank and john. i’m interested in constructive discourse from all directions. i’m just interested in constructive discourse period. and i want to figure out how and where to do that best with everyone who shares the that interest and no one who doesn’t.
thanks for reading. looking forward to hearing from others.
this is super important. i’m very interested, no ideas beyond maybe google group as a place to talk.
John posted a video titled “Keeping it EVEN REALER” the same day his twitter handle changed from realjohngreen to johngreen
Is he keeping it so real that he is not real? that nothing is real? Has he transcended himself through realness?
I don’t know what to believe anymore