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Sandcastles and Fandom

This is a long way to go to make a point, but it does relate to what we do here...

One of my long-time beach rituals is sandcastle building.  When I was a kid my mom used to bring my sister and me out here and we'd spend hours creating the perfect sand city.  These weren't the kind of fancy, sculpted sandcastles you see in a competition, rather 30x50 foot metropolis constructions with tons of walls, buildings, roads, and of course the all-important moat system.  There's nothing like knowing your city complex inside and out--including the (assumed) arrogant pride of the little sand inhabitants who felt so secure building right next to the ocean--then watching mother nature (in the form of high tide) blast through the moats and walls, wiping all but the tops of the tallest buildings clean.  It's the quintessential human it's darn nifty.

So anyway, when a young friend from Iowa came visiting for a week and he'd never seen the ocean at all, it was a natural to bring him here.  And he just had to experience the glory of civilization creation (and destruction).  He also found the experience quite cool.

One of the side effects of this kind of endeavor is that once your city reaches a certain critical mass people start stopping by to see what you're doing.  This happened a fair amount today.  There were some kid and moms, a couple of older folks...the usual.  But the pair that struck me were a couple of what I'd judge to be post-college guys.  They had college hoodies and they looked kind of like ex-frat boys.  They walked past just as I was finishing something and as I stood up they looked me right in the eyes.  It was kind of weird, because their expression was very incredulous and disapproving.  They kind of stared and shook their heads like, " stupid can you be to waste your time on something like that?"  I guess they didn't get the ultimate coolness of tens of square yards of soon-to-be-doomed city.

You know, when you meet people like that, you just don't know what to say.  It's like if they don't understand or agree with something it must be contemptible and foolish.  It didn't make me mad or anything, just kind of sad.  First of all I feel sad for anyone who doesn't know the joy of going to the ocean and building a sandcastle.  But more than that I feel sad for people who are so sure that nothing beyond their experience can be meaningful that they dismiss out of hand what end up being multiple opportunities for looking at things (and people) in new ways.  I also get kind of annoyed with people who, when they feel that way, just HAVE to register their disapproval to everyone within reach, as if their opinion and viewpoints were the only valid ones in the universe and even perfect strangers should bow to them.  If it's not hurting anyone--if it's just how someone else sees things--why does it matter so much if you disagree or wouldn't do the same?

How this all relates to our discussion is that I meet a fair amount of those people online.  The relative anonymity of online discussion emboldens people to take a "my way or the highway" approach to conversation and lessens the incentive to truly listen to one another.  How often have you seen people dismiss others as idiots (or worse) simply because somebody brought up a new point of view or experiences fandom in a different way?  Thank goodness there's not a ton of that here (and thanks to all of you too) but I fear in many places it's the norm...not just in sports but politics, religion, education...everywhere.

Getting back to us, I really feel sorry for people who treat their fandom that way.  Being a fan is supposed to be FUN!  It's supposed to bring people together.  It's supposed to be like having a ready-made family of thousands who go through the same ups and downs you do.  Of course there are differences and disagreements, but anyone who wastes a moment of time or energy getting bent out of shape about those, let alone to the point of name calling and flat-out dismissing folks...I just don't get it.  What's the point?  Why can't people have their fandom their way and we have ours our way and everybody enjoys and makes room for everybody elses?  

Personally I thank all of your for your various points of view and approaches to things.  I feel like I'm a much more well-rounded fan reading all the things you write.  The journey is a ton more fun and interesting because you do what you do.  I hope we all continue to enjoy each others' work whether we're sandcastle builders, surfers, ray-catchers, fishermen, or bikini chasers on Blazer beach.

Back home tomorrow.