As Facebook reminded me today, today is Friendship Day. I didn’t know there was one, so if you’re celebrating one of February’s holidays, Happy Friendship Day to you. As I was going through my little friendship video on my cosplay groups Facebook account, I was met with some awesome memories from convention past. I went into my regular account and was met with with memories with the same people but doing non-convention or cosplay things like going to Las Vegas, seeing a Dodger game, hitting up Disneyland, etc. To think these friendships started from meeting and bonding over a love of a series to form lasting friendships where we can be each others brothers and sisters in spirit. I can definitely say that as an awkward college student, I formed so many friendships from cosplay and cons that have lasted for quite some time.
Of course, there are haters that don’t agree with the above. I briefly touched on this in a casual Facebook post expressing how thankful I was to have friends from a hobby that I enjoy. Haters have pulled the “Geek Fallacy” article that states that just-because-geeks-are-geeks-doesn’t-make-them-friends. While I get where the article is coming from, conventions are still great social areas to meet people that share the same interest. Even though we would like to believe that geek is the new cool, there are oftentimes marginalized people who do feel safer expressing who they are with their peers. While it’s not everyone’s mission in life to be friends with each other, conventions are still a cool way to meet likeminded people. The ice has already been broken.
Another criticism is that “cosplay is full of drama whores and toxic people.” Newsflash: Any niche hobby is going to have toxic people. It’s just best to avoid them and do your own thing. While I have experienced drama in the past (what cosplayer has not?), it doesn’t keep me from enjoying sewing and being creative. The moment I quit the things I love, that’s when the drama mongers win. Sometimes it’s hard to see at first. We’re caught in the whirlwind of fandom and bonding over our silly OTP’s, but when it boils down to it, is it a friendship you can see lasting outside of the con?
I’ve been in friendships where it felt so false and plastic. All we did in our social time was do photoshoots and worry how many followers we were loosing on tumblr or how many likes we were getting in our latest cosplay photos. If it wasn’t e-fame, it was dissing local people in the community. It’s one thing to discuss and criticize “Heroes of Cosplay” or actions of a well known personality. However, when discussion turns into petty gossip and wanting to do harm to others within the community, that’s where I have to step out and re-evaluate. I didn’t see them as my bridesmaids or “sisters.” I didn’t see them enjoying a baseball game or Broadway show. It’s fine to talk about cosplay plans and upcoming conventions, but when it’s consistently center of discussion, you gotta question the value of your relationships with them.
However, I’m very happy for the friendships formed that so happened to start out by meeting at a con or a cosplay meet up. I’m very happy these relationships evolved to something deeper, something meaningful. I’m happy to see invites for weddings and baby shower announcements. I like to say we are friends because we let that relationship grow and develop through time. We allowed ourselves to grow up, yet still enjoy our hobbies in our free time. We support each other’s career choices and lifestyles. We are there for each other in sickness and in health. I’ve seen friends fight disease and cancer and I had friends with me when I found a lump. We have sewing meetups, and we also have Super Bowl parties. We discover new hobbies as we grow and we invite our peers to explore it with us. You see…friendship changes and grows through the years. I can also say that I don’t really need a convention to have quality time with friends, but rather, make some time in my schedule to go see friends up in the Bay Area or New England.
TL/DR: Conventions are a great way to meet people into the same things you are, but a person’s hobbies don’t necessarily fully define themselves. However, we shouldn’t shame people for having friends who share the same hobbies or project any of our personal drama on other people’s happiness. Above all, the most meaningful relationships to come out of hobbies is the ones that support your real life and help figuring out the adulting thing.
– Eri Kagami