You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) review
There’s something cozy about Felicia Day’s work, and her recent book, You’re Never Weird On The Internet (Almost) is no exception. As George R.R. Martin puts it (in a manner which fans of his writing will suspect is self-parody), “Reading this is like sitting down and having dinner with her, and hearing the story of her life between the clam chowder and the cheesecake.”
Indeed, Day (or should I call her “Felicia”?) seems poised to establish herself as geeks’ and gamers’ cool older sister. Fans and newcomers alike will find that her autobiography offers casual and humorous insight into what it was like to grow up at the end of the 20th century, the early days of the internet, and the new and exciting culture of gaming.
For those of us with more conventional upbringings, Felicia’s recollection of hers is not just entertaining but revealing. Homeschooled for many of her young years, Felicia was given lots of room to explore her numerous interests and talents like math and playing the violin, or offering astrological insight to the other girls in her ballet class (until Megan’s mom shut the practice down for its Satanic implications, that is). However, homeschooling, coupled with her fervent pursuit of all things nerdy, resulted in a lot of loneliness. Despite this, Felicia’s eagerness to poke fun at herself and see the humor in all things makes her and her writing charming, even while dealing with sore subjects.
As an adult, she dealt with a problem many gamers are familiar with: online gaming addiction. In a chapter titled, “Quirky Addiction = Still an Addiction”, she tackles the subject in a way that is level-headed and earnest, devoid of finger-pointing or judgment.
A few years into her acting career, Felicia found herself dissatisfied and discouraged with the work she was doing. This, in addition to her naturally obsessive and neurotic personality, made it all too easy for World of Warcraft to take over her life in what she refers to as her “Professionally Destructive Gaming Career”. After nearly two years of playing, she made the decision to put WoW behind her and move on with her life. Those two years didn’t go entirely to waste, though; Felicia’s experiences with online gaming served as her inspiration for creating The Guild.
Felicia Day is the poster girl for the modern American dream: a self- and community-made woman who makes a living (and then some) by doing what she loves. As she tells the story of how The Guild came to be, it becomes obvious how the web-series became so successful and how it ended up changing her life in fundamental ways.
With its low-budget charm and niche appeal, The Guild was a genuine labor of love designed to cater to an underserved audience. Felicia’s writing in this part of the book is as sincere as that of her series. Her fondness for her time spent working on The Guild is made abundantly clear, but so are her regrets and the valuable life lessons that she learned—some more painful than others.
As she nears the end of the book, she addresses the serious mental and physical health issues that she dealt with as a result of stress and overwork. More recently, Felicia had a brief but harrowing run-in with Gamergate that forced her to confront hard truths about her own community.
Even when addressing some of the darker moments of her life and career, Felicia Day’s writing makes it hard to not get swept up in nostalgia, even for experiences that readers may not be able to share with her. You’re Never Weird On The Internet (Almost) isn’t great literature and it isn’t very long. If you’re planning on picking it up to read on your flight from Chicago to San Francisco, you might want to bring something else to do for the last hour or so. The book reads a lot like one giant blog post, complete with pictures from her childhood (and childhood diary) and self-made memes. This is fine, though, because it makes the book seem all the more familiar and fun. Just like Felicia.