Non-Fiction: “You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)” by Felicia Day

Never WeirdThis book was lent to me by my coworker, Bill. Bill is an avid reader and gamer, and one of his friends or relatives gave him this book to read, because they thought he’d like it. When he finished it, he let me borrow it. Or, rather, he left it on my desk when I had just started reading Farewell, My Lovely and told me that he had a couple of other people he wanted to lend it to, but no pressure.  This caused me to move it to the top of the pile.

Now, I adore Felicia Day. I’ve watched a bunch of her projects – I think my first introduction to her was Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, then in her myriad guest spots; then, I caught her on TableTop and her other Geek & Sundry productions, including Co-Optitude. (All I can think of right now is that, when my mother reads this paragraph, the words will sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher.) She is not only adorkable; she is extremely savvy about New Media and being able to create projects for herself and like-minded individuals on the internet. The Internet is a haven for geeks and nerds from all walks of life, and in many circles, Felicia Day is their queen. So even though the book got to me sooner than I had anticipated (I had plans! There were Things I Wanted To Read Next!), I was welcome of the opportunity to read it.

The downside of a) having read it two months ago and b) already having given it back to Bill is that I have no quotes with which to better illustrate any points I may make. Oh well.

Felicia Day’s memoir details her very extraordinary life. (Extraordinary as in “outside of ordinary,” not the more traditional, “AMAZING WOW” meaning.) She and her brother were home-schooled for most of their adolescence, and through a connection that I can’t remember exactly at this point, they always had access to computers. In the Stone Age of the Interwebs, Felicia first found her social niche while playing RPGs online (I apologize, because here’s where I’d look up the name of the game – I wanna say Dragon Age, but I have no idea? I mean, Oregon Trail was my jam back in the day, and I’ve only advanced to Mario Kart 64. Anyway, I’d look it up, but — not my book). She was accepted to college early – like, at sixteen, where she double-majored in Math and Violin. She also fell in love with acting and moved to Los Angeles to pursue it as a career.

In her early twenties, after numerous bit parts and commercials wherein she played the same type of mousy, nerdy character, she would escape the monotony by playing World of Warcraft. A lot. “Putting Her Life On Hold So As To Win This Quest” -a-lot. But if she hadn’t become so involved in World of Warcraft, she wouldn’t have had the background to write The Guild, which was one of her starring vehicles.

The Guild is really what kickstarted her career. And think what you will about Internet culture and gamers and geeks and nerds and what-have-you: what really inspires me about Felicia Day’s journey is how she made a space for herself and her stories where there weren’t any stories before. She wrote a script and tried to sell it to Hollywood in the traditional way – when the studios and producers tried to get her to change it and, if I remember correctly, possibly not have her in the starring role, she wouldn’t let that happen. So she and a bunch of her friends and colleagues got together and on a shoestring budget, made the first season of The Guild themselves. They released it on YouTube and pretty much emailed everyone they knew to get them to watch the video. And it took off. That first season inspired a second, crowd-funded season; then, the whole series got picked up to be released on the X-Box. All in all, the series went for six seasons. Around the same time, Felicia was cast as Penny in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, and now, she’s the Queen of the Internet.

Being Queen of the Internet is a rough job, however. Felicia Day does devote a chapter of her book to GamerGate, and some of her fan interactions over the years have been decidedly less than cool. Many dangers come as the cost of celebrity – the crazed fans, the stalkers, the people who think you owe them just because you’re famous. But even famous people have the right to privacy, and just because one is “famous” should not require that person to sign over the right to their private info (or their home) to their fans in exchange for continuing to make their films and series and whatnots.

Or something. I thing I got a bit off-track.

ANYWAY. (Man, I haven’t had an “ANYWAY” on this in a while, huh?) I appreciated that Felicia Day writes like she speaks – she tends to go off on tangents, and uses ALL-CAPS when she’s excited about or emphasizing something, and many times throughout the book she speaks directly to the reader. While my Inner Grammarian’s hackles may have risen over the usage of the capslock button over the more sedate italics choice — not to mention the multiple uses of multiple exclamation points (!!!) — at the end of the day, let’s face it: I occasionally delve into the overexcited tone of voice while writing.

[[At this time, I’d like to direct new readers of That’s What She Read to my recent review of Red Dragon as an example. Regular readers, I will attempt to tell you something you don’t know next time. Please, continue your eye-rolling.)

How did Bill like the book? Well, he felt Felicia “rambled” too much. But I don’t give a lot of credence to that opinion, for two reasons: 1) as stated above, I appreciated Ms. Day’s ability to write so her personality translated perfectly to the written word, and 2) because it has been empirically determined, through much experimentation and time, that Everything Bothers Bill.

Oh shit, that reminds me — I need to cross-stitch that pillow for Christmas.

If you like Felicia Day, you’ll like the book. If you like funny memoirs and video gaming and YouTube videos and geeky stuff, you’ll like the book. If you’re Bill, you’ll read it and then sell it back because you forgot someone gave the book to you as a gift, but you’ll still have read it and liked most of it.

Grade for You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): 3 stars

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