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Opinion

Terilynn’s Trek: The Fandom Unites

Social media helps the fandom rally behind fellow Trekkie


Hurray! I’m back!

In what has seemed (and I hope that stays in the past tense) like a never-ending cycle of “I’m too busy to think straight” followed by “We’re off on a Star Trek cruise!” immediately backed up by “What do you mean it’s 2011?” rear-ended by “I think I want a different career…” ; and recently capped with “Frozen water pipes can explode?” – I have returned like a prodigal daughter to Airlock Alpha!

For weeks I thought about doing a rather schmaltzy “Love letter to Star Trek” for Valentine’s Day – but two things have persuaded me to dump the idea:

First, I really dislike Valentine’s Day and I feared my love letter may have ended in a rant, and second, something more interesting occurred.

The one thing I think I’ve continually stated in my blogs and in this column is how I am never ceased to be amazed by the camaraderie of the fandom of Trek.

The fandom is made up of literally every walk of life; socio-economic indicator; gender; sexual orientation and religion, as well as atheists, secular humanists and agnostics. They live all over the world, speak every language and are as diverse as we can get.

It literally is a microcosm of today’s society on the whole. Let me tell you, Trekkies can get into some pretty spirited discussions regarding politics, religion, the economy and science just as every other non-Trekkie group might. We are constantly challenged to be more tolerant of others even within our own fan-based community.

For the most part, I’d like to think we’re a bit more successful on that end than most, but we are far from perfect. Sometimes it takes a little reminder from a friend to get us back on track.

But this column isn’t about the more ethereal ideals of the Trek fandom as much as it is about the more concrete expression of those ideals.

Recently, a woman I’ve never met in person — we shall just call her by her first name, Jennifer, lost her home in a devastating fire. She survived and was uninjured physically, as she was not at home when the fire erupted.

While she thankfully also has her dog with her, she lost pretty much everything else. And I mean just that. She lost her home, her clothing, her computers, her psychological foundation, and yes, she lost her impressive Trek memorabilia collection.

One thing I have always been impressed by is the fact that a significant number of Trek fans keep in touch using social media, namely Twitter and Facebook. It’s an easy way to stay in touch, as well as to share the bits of information regarding our favorite hobby, Star Trek.

The morning after Jennifer lost her home, she texted a fellow Trek fan, “Starfleet Mom,” and also tweeted about it.

By that afternoon, there was a link to Starfleet Mom’s blog, with a link to a “chip in” site where we could all go to pitch in whatever we could to help Jennifer get some of the basics to survive. And by basics, I mean basics: clothes, food, shelter, etc.

Not surprisingly, word spread like the augmented Levodian flu, and we came together to help someone that most of us have never met in person.

People on Twitter like actress Chase Masterson, Trek “guru” and author Larry Nemecek, Science-fiction and Star Trek author Dayton Ward as well as Trek “family” Chris Doohan re-tweeted the link to their followers thereby helping get the word out to even more Trekkies.

Bloggers wrote about it and included the link, and the whole thing made its presence known on Facebook as well.

I was really impressed.

While I know Jennifer will still need a lot of help rebuilding her life and her home, I don’t have any doubts about her ability to lean on the wonderful community that has developed over the love of a television show.

If you’d like to help out, great – feel free to click on the link to Starfleet Mom’s blog and pitch in what you can. If you can’t, don’t fret! However, would you be so kind as to pass the word? We’d really appreciate it.

What a great way for me to kick-start my column with Airlock Alpha again.

We’re beginning what promises to be a wonderful few months leading up to the upcoming 45th anniversary of the first airing of Star Trek.

This fandom has not only survived for 45 years, it’s thriving, and I do believe it’s growing.

Creation Entertainment has recently stated that tickets for the upcoming “official” Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas are selling at more than double the pace they sold at last year, and they’re expecting a renewed record turnout.

Since it will be my first “official” Star Trek convention, I’m now looking forward to it even more so, mostly so I can meet my fellow Trekkies in person. It’s my honest hope that I’ll be able to meet Jennifer there and hear about her new home.

Live long and prosper!

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