I’m musing on how much Nerdfighteria’s grown since 2007. I think I’ve got a handle on it, then SNL parodies The Fault In Our Stars with Sarah Silverman. Woah.
Despite it’s status as a bestselling novel and a freaking movie, I don’t think my brain had registered how big a deal TFIOS was. I consider TFIOS part of Nerdfighteria, so to see it parodied on SNL is, to me, like seeing Nerdfighteria parodied on SNL. Cultural awareness of aspects of our community outside of our community on a big level.
In 2007, getting featured on the front page of YouTube was a big freaking deal. A few thousand views was a big deal.
In 2007, John was a published, respected author, but his following was relatively smallish, and his name was unknown outside of very specific circles.
In 2007, Hank was not notable enough to warrant a Wikipedia page. Attempts to make one were immediately removed.
In 2007, it was two brothers talking to each other, making their videos entirely on their own. A community built up around them.
In 2014, the Vlogbrothers are at the center of a modest media empire. Merchandise, music, multiple YouTube channels, employees, partnerships with PBS, advertisements on bus stops, and so much more.
In 2014, John Green is a celebrity. People who’ve never even read his books or watched his videos know his name and who he is. He’s appeared on the Colbert Report. His books are bestsellers. His latest book has been adapted into a major motion picture, and another is following suit. SNL has parodied his story. Celebrities tweet that they’re reading his book.
In 2014, Hank Green has his Wikipedia profile. Every idea he puts out into the world goes off like gangbusters. He’s started a convention/conference which has grown at mind-boggling speed. He’s responsible for most of that ever-expanding media empire mentioned above. Even strange ideas like 2D glasses flourish. Beloved celebrities watch his videos about Hong Kong, and join the ranks of Nerdfighteria.
The central faces of our little community are a far cry from where they were in 2007. So, too, are the rest of us. Nerdfighteria has grown from a small little subculture you could really only find online to something you could happen across simply by chucking a rock in any direction (or, as the case may be, wearing a Pizza John shirt as a Batsignal). We, as individuals, have grown and changed with it. Neither I nor any of my Nerdfighter friends are remotely the same people as when we joined Nerdfighteria. We are the products of who those people were, but we are not those people anymore.
Some people look back at the early years, and they miss it. They complain about the golden days that we’ll never have again. And I confess, a part of me misses those more intimate, supposedly simpler days.
But nostalgia makes everything seem better. The truth, as always, is more complicated. And that which doesn’t change eventually stagnates. It rots. It dies a slow, unpleasant death, feeling bitter about it the whole time.
Given that, I’m happy Nerdfighteria has grown, and changed. It’s alive, like any of us, and so it will never be what it was. What it was then was something unique and special. So, too, is what it has become. Each moment in time, each new thing Nerdfighteria has become, will never be repeated. And that’s an amazing thing to behold.
We’ll never be what we were. In a year, we won’t be what we are now.
But I love what we are as much as what we were, and I cannot wait to see what we become.