As an aspiring writer (because I can’t actually remember the last time I wrote something that I completely came up with on my own), I am aware of how hard the conversational, stream-of-consciousness writing style is. I’ve tried it many times and it always comes off stilted and weird. Like I’m having a conversation with someone who can only understand every second word.
Felicia Day does not have that problem. At all. She’s a genius.
(And before you say anything, yes I changed my bookmark to compliment the theme of this book. I have an insane collection of bookmarks, OK? I own more bookmarks than I do pairs of shoes).
So, OK, this book opens on an anecdote that essentially sums up every single theme of this book in seven-ish pages. I just … the mind boggles. I don’t even want to give you any of the details because it’ll detract from the magic of this tiny snippet into Felicia Day’s life. And because of what I just said: if I gave away these first seven pages, I’d be giving away the whole book.
Reading You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost) was basically like having a really long conversation with a good friend. But in a movie. Everyone has long conversations with friends every now and again. They’re needed. But only in the movies do those conversations loop back around and make connections to something you may have said two hours before, to reinforce an important theme.
I am trying to hold back from gushing too hard so that you guys take me seriously enough to read this book. Felicia Day wrote this book in a way feels like you’re sitting across from her in your favourite café, drinking way too many cappuccinos and eating way too many tiny, delicious biscuits.
I don’t know how she did it, but it feels like you’re speaking back to her. Somehow, the words on the page get into your head, like they were meant just for you. This is super important. Because this book, while hilarious, also makes you think. Day will tell this completely far out anecdote that you’d never think in a million years you could relate to, but then she brings it back around and boils it down into one pure idea that everyone can relate to.
Case and point: Day recounts a very one-sided friendship she had with the girl next door when she was growing up and segues into the idea that her “weirdness is turned into [her] greatest strength in life”. Incredibly inspirational, and something we should all keep in mind more often.
The voice and tone of the book is probably helped along by the use of memes. But, Felicia Day memes. I just…like, instead of having photos in the middle of the book like most memoirs/autobiographies have, Day sporadically threw them into her prose, whether they were photos of herself, homemade memes, or photos from things from her life. This book is kind of like a hardcopy of Tumblr.
I read this book in two days. It’s the end of semester and I should probably have my final assessment finished by now, but instead I read this book. Simply because this book makes you feel good. It’s like carrying around 261 pages of happiness. It’s one of the most honest things I’ve ever read.
Despite the feel good nature of this book, there was a point where I was brought to tears. Day was in the middle of describing her fan experiences at conventions when this happened:
I wept for this guy, who was so vulnerable in front of me, and who, for some reason, felt the need to put himself down when he presented something he’d made from scratch. I don’t let people get away with putting themselves down anymore. There are enough negative forces in this world – don’t let the pessimistic voice that lives inside you get away with that stuff, too. That voice is NOT a good roommate.
Not gonna lie, I welled up typing that. This scene happens after a bloke turns up to a convention and hands Day a poster that he 100% designed himself. And then he proceeds to tell her that it’s probably rubbish, but he wants her to have it anyway.
Ahh, so many feels.
Another beautiful part of this book is how open Day is about her mental health issues. Anxiety, depression, gaming addiction. She talks about it all. As someone who is all about raising awareness for mental health issues, this was amazing. She did not hold back. Day even delved into her difficulty in admitting that she needed help. Because she was convinced she had to do it alone. And that, right there, is a huge problem in the mental health world. Mental health issues are still seen as a weakness. They are NOT. There’s another quote for this:
Imagine saying to someone, “I have a kidney problem, and I’m having a lot of bad days lately.” Nothing but sympathy, right?
Then pretend to say, “I have severe depression and anxiety, and I’m having a lot of bad days lately.”
They just look at you like you’re broken, right? Unfixable. Inherently flawed. Maybe not someone they want to hang around as much?
Yeah, society sucks.
My mental problems made me feel ashamed. I felt like I had to hide them until I could “work through it” on my own. Which I never did, because I didn’t know how.
And that, right there, is a huge problem with invisible illnesses like depression and anxiety. Because there aren’t any visual symptoms, people dismiss it. Mental illness isn’t something that can be shaken off. You wouldn’t shake a broken leg, right?
As important as all of this is, what I loved was how Day detailed her addiction to video games. This is another thing that gets dismissed, but is an actual thing that can have huge, negative impacts on people’s lives. This particular chapter of You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost) was called ‘Quirky Addiction = Still an Addiction’.
People can be addicted to anything. But things like game addiction are brushed off as not being real. Day goes into detail about how her addiction affected her life. THIS IS IMPORTANT. I can’t stress that enough.
One of the most genius things about this book though was how Day paints the gaming community in the earlier parts of the book. Gaming was a coping mechanism, a way to connect with people during her pretty lonely childhood. Gaming was a good thing (which is how it can be so easy to get hooked). But then, right at the end of this book, Day talks about #GamerGate. I do not game that much. I’m terrible at video games. Because of this, I didn’t really understand the whole #GamerGate thing. I do now. And that whole chapter made me so angry and sad at the state of the world. Why people can think it’s OK to spit vitriol at people based on gender (or, really, any superficial thing like that: appearance, sexual orientation, the differently abled, religion, all of the stuff that makes us unique individuals. These things should be celebrated, not hated) will always baffle me. And to experience a lifetime lover of the online community’s version of what #GamerGate meant to her really opened my eyes.
I’m going to leave this review here because, let’s face it, there are only so many ways to say that Felicia Day is a gift to us all and everyone should read this book. So, here:
NB: My first experience with Felicia Day was her character Charlie on Supernatural. When Day vaguely mentions a certain scene from the show in this book, I can pinpoint the episode. But upon reading this memoir, I am now about to binge watch as much of The Guild as I can.