'You’re Never Weird On The Internet (Almost)' (7 out of 10), Written by Felicia Day, Published by Touchstone, Available 08/11/15
Felicia’s Day memoir, 'You’re Never Weird On The Internet (Almost)', is the actress’s recollection of her life experiences that led her to become the successful Internet mogul she is today. I snagged the audiobook, and I definitely recommend it over the print edition (although the print/tablet edition comes with a PDF that includes photos and is frequently referenced in the book). While personality can come across in pages, there is something special about hearing a person tell you their story; Day’s is a tale best heard because it’s like listening to a friend. A witty, nerdy friend. As a fan of Day’s (we sat next to each other at a panel during Fan X, NBD), I was eager to glean wisdom from her memoir. How does a girl manage to make a successful franchise for herself while facing waves of brutal Internet trolls? In this day and age, gamer girls have it rough. So for one girl to rise above all that and succeed, you bet I wanted to learn how she did it.
The foreword, written and read by Joss Whedon, had me tingling. His praise for her and her book had me pumped, even more excited to listen to her life story. Honestly though, put a Whedon stamp of approval on anything and I’ll purchase it immediately.
Day spends the first few chapters reminiscing on her homeschooling and geek experiences as a child, like meeting people online and bonding with strangers through forums. She peppers in geek jargon and apologizes that maybe her geek is too much and apologizes if the reader doesn’t understand what she’s saying. While her fan base will certainly understand most of the topics she discusses and lingo she uses, I can understand her desire to appeal to everyone by trying to including readers who may not know anything beyond her work in her site, Geek and Sundry.
The more I listened, the more I started getting...frustrated. Day certainly did have a unique upbringing--homeschooled and part of a military family--that she anecdotally reflects on, and she read books, played video games, took classes, auditioned for plays, and went to college. The frustrating part for me was her life isn’t relatable. She was a musical prodigy, went to college at 16, and graduated with a 4.0. She moved to Hollywood and did pretty well while suffering rejection. She started an online web series, 'The Guild', that flourished. How was I supposed to relate to this? It wasn’t until closer to the end of the book, when she discusses her anger at people putting themselves down and dealing with anxiety and depression that I began to relate to her. I admire Day, but why did I have to wait until this far in the book before I began to feel for her?
I stewed in rage for a few hours after finishing the book. I have read/listened to my share of celebrity memoirs and never had any issues. Why now? Why did I let the idea that I didn’t relate to Felicia Day bother me so much? But, the more I stewed, the more I thought about it and realized we had more in common than previously believed. I spent a chunk of my adolescence befriending people online through fan fiction means rather than video games. My mom was weird and pretty hands off, too. I read a lot. I auditioned for plays and got parts too. I went to college too--granted, I didn’t graduate, but I still felt my age did me a disservice and I felt friendless. I’ve never dealt with video game addiction, but I also struggle with anxiety and depression and I still want to create things for entertainment and put myself out there on the Internet.
The message is hidden, like a gem to be found in a video game through side quests, but once it's found it'll have you thinking. It’s hard to rate a memoir on a 1-10 scale, because it’s someone’s life experience and who am I to say someone’s life was so many stars out of ten? Day’s story is a good one, you may just need some time to figure out why.