Having “power in fandom” might not be any more important than being the last dog to pee on a fire hydrant — “It’s mine, all mine!” — but considered in perspective, we all have social lives, get deeply invested in the activities that connect us with others, feel passionate about the way they’re run, and think it matters who makes those decisions.
While it’s never a handicap to be rich or beautiful, few fans suffer those handicaps. Far more important in determining a person’s influence in fandom is how much work he or she is willing to do year after year after year.
John Picacio does a great job of expressing that truth in “How To Change A Worldcon”, written after last weekend’s LoneStarCon 3 All-Staff Meeting:
What makes Worldcon great is it’s a convention by the people, for the people. At its best, it welcomes the outlier. It welcomes the outcast. It welcomes everyone to take part and better yet, to criticize it, and shape it into something better. And it’s always ripe for a revolution, for a new regime, for a group of critics, trolls, and nerd ragers to democratically bring their new ideas into the fold. It’s there for the taking every single year, with no exception. How?
Simply show up.
And do the work.
I just saw some of that hard work in action, this weekend. I saw hard-working people leaving behind their dayjobs and families for four days. They paid their own money to get on a plane and fly to a distant location. They checked their egos at the door. They thought about what they wanted. They took the time to understand the wants and needs of those around them. They took the time to understand others’ fears and hopes. They took the time to show up at the World Science Fiction Society meetings. They proposed amendments and changes. They built coalitions. They built relationships. They made the future happen.
Simple as that.
Once you put yourself in the shoes of these men and women – the ones who do the work – any agent of change would have to ask themselves first, “Why would someone do all of this work and then turn around and submit to those that aren’t doing any work?” Social media is a weapon. But to my friends who criticize Worldcon and the Hugos – let me offer some advice — the truth is you need a bigger weapon. You’re bringing a knife to a gunfight.
If you want to change Worldcon, you’ve gotta bring yourself.