Lessons Learned from the Comic Book Shop Trip

“I possess a device, in my pocket, that is capable of accessing the entirety of information known to man. I use it to look at pictures of cats and get in to arguments with strangers.”

Ah, the internet.

Truly the best and worst of humanity all rolled into one easily accessible set of protocols from nearly any device that you have in your home or on your person.  Twitter. Email. Message boards. Website comments. Feedback forms. Text messages.

It can be a virtual tsunami of information overload as people get behind their keyboards and start telling you how right you are…or how wrong you are.  How dead on accurate it all is..or how the entire thing must be completely made up.  How it was great that I was finally starting to get it…or how I was the worst human being on the planet because I didn’t get it.

So, the good, the bad and the ugly…here’s what I learned by publishing a blog entry about what I learned by taking my daughter to a comic book shop…

comicshop1I guess before I start this off, if you haven’t read the original piece in question, you should do so, just so you have the context if nothing else.  It’s over at http://www.itinthed.com/16328/what-taking-my-daughter-to-a-comic-book-store-taught-me/

And here’s the funny part – I wasn’t even going to publish it.

I ran the draft passed Bob and Jeff and even said “I know this isn’t the kind of stuff we usually write, but I think it’s a good topic.”  They agreed, and so out into the ether it went.

And nothing happened.

For a few days, at least.  Oh, it got the normal number page views our posts typically do, and it got some likes on Facebook.  But then…and looking back, this would be the first time I’ve ever done this…a few days later, I tweeted it out from my personal account…and for some reason, that’s when it caught on and started catching people’s attention.

crazystats2And then it really started catching people’s attention.  On a normal day, we get about 3,000 page views or so here on the site.

On Thursday, January 16th, we dealt with more than 225,000 page views on the site from over 100,000 unique users.

So the first thing I learned is that our server can handle a decent traffic load…far greater than originally expected to handle.  While there were sporadic reports of database connection errors and random problems reaching the site, the caching worked really well and we managed to keep our heads above water.  Barely, but we didn’t drown.

crazystatssourceWhile I was freaking out watching our real-time analytics, I started trying to figure out where in the blue hell all of the traffic was coming from.

That was a mistake.

Because that’s when I started stumbling across comment threads and chats on various message boards and snark on Twitter and…

Enough preamble.  Let’s get to what I learned, already.

There’s a pretty serious issue out there that not enough people talk about.

twitterchat_goodThat’s the biggest thing I learned.  I’m not the only one that this has happened to.  I’m not the only dad who’s been puzzled by this.  I’m not the first person to bring it up.  I’m sure I won’t be the last person to bring it up.

There really is a problem, people.  Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, whether you choose to accept is as valid or not, it exists.

People without kids don’t understand kids. At all.

Not to be “condescending parent guy”…but sorry non-parental units…you don’t get it.  At all.  I read comments from people claiming:

– There’s no way my seven year old daughter talks like that, because no seven year old can talk like that.

– That there’s no way she even noticed the issue, because kids don’t notice things like that.

idiots geekYou people are clueless idiots.  As I made the even bigger mistake of wading into some of those chats and conversations I stumbled into, the overwhelming truth was that every single person saying something along these lines were in their early to mid 20s and had no children.  You have no context. You have no foundation. You certainly have no experience with what one’s child does and does not notice, their speech patterns, or how agonizingly beyond their years they can act, sound and be sometimes.

You need to shut the hell up when you have zero understanding of a given topic.

Lots of men are dumb

feel1Okay, I didn’t really “learn” this, because I’ve always known that my gender is functionally broken on several levels, but wow did the jackholes come out of the woodwork on this topic.  Over the course of several comment threads I read, I was, and I quote: “a fag”, “obviously a closet homo”, “a loser”, “an idiot”, “retarded”, “clearly a woman posting as a man”, “gay”…oh, the list goes on and on.  All from men.  Late teens, early 20s, on out into their 40s.  I obviously hated boobs.  I was obviously pretending to care about an issue to just get attention.  I was trolling.  I hated comic books.  I didn’t like women.

Shut up.  All of you…shut up.  You’re embarrassing yourselves, and you’re making our gender look even worse than it already does.  We’re the ones creating this problem, and we’re the ones responsible for its continuation.

Well, not all of you.  Some guys get it.  Especially those with kids.  Even more so those with daughters of their own. And I loved watching them dive into the conversations as well…

twitterchat_good1

Women can be dumb, too.

I actually had to go look up what “slut shaming” was, because I was getting accused of doing it.  All because of this one line I threw into the original post:

“If she starts dressing like Mystique, we’re going to have a problem, and the joke I made at her birth about locking her in her room until menopause will no longer be a joke.”

And some women took that seriously. [sigh]

twitterchat_slutshaming

But let me say this, fully on the record and without a hesitation in my mind: As a father, it is my responsibility to try and teach my daughter self-respect, and that the realities of the world we live in is that yes, people judge people solely on first impressions and so how you dress matters.  You show me a father that doesn’t care, mind, or cringe when his daughter dresses in an overly provocative nature, and I’ll show you a father who has failed at being a father.  Period.

And that does not mean that I don’t teach my son similar lessons as well.  Which is the other thing I got accused of doing – running a double standard.  But the article wasn’t about my son’s reactions, it was about my daughter’s, and so that’s what was focused on in that entry.

The problem was most likely the shop we went to

I heard from quite a few people that there are comics out there, and the failure was really at the shop level.  The guy behind the counter should have known more options.  That there are plenty of shops out there with better stock levels and titles.  Offers to come to other local stores came in left and right, and I’m planning trips to visit them.

I also got told that I was a jerk for not doing more homework and more research about shops in the area before going…and to you idiots, screw you.  I did do some homework and research and everything I read said this was a decent place to go, well stocked, and had a decent selection.  I asked the guy behind the counter running the place what I should be looking for.  What more do you want from me?  I’m supposed to go become an expert on how the internal combustion engine works before I go to my mechanic?  I’m supposed to get my MD before I go to the doctor when I have the flu?

All of those negatives are the minority.

twitterchat_good2I’d say about 95% of all of the commentary and discussions were positive to overwhelmingly supportive of it in general.  But like the nightly news, what caught my attention was that damned 5%.  But I’m incredibly grateful to that 95% – they flooded me with suggestions of comics, links to shops with websites with a better variety of titles, tips about what days to go to stores to hit pre-ordering timing to get things at the shop for her moving forward, offers from internationally known comic artists to mail copies of comics that she would enjoy.

I was floored.  Simply floored.

To all of the people who RT’d my tweet, posted it on various sites, and either started or dove into some very productive and real discussions…thank you.  I appreciate it like you’ll never really know that so many of you understood my concerns, had concerns of your own, and let the conversation move forward.

The conversation has to continue

ITintheDnewspaper02092015d2This was the most important thing I learned – it can’t stop here.  You have Joss Whedon calling out the comic industry over the problem.  You have a similar situation from the point of view of an 11 year old girl.

There are too many people who said their experiences matched my own.  Too many women who said the ripple effect has happened to them over and over again.

Friends of mine who are women in the comic industry and artists who go to cons and have started opening up and telling me stories about the unbelievable crap they’ve dealt with over the years and are coming on our show to share some of those stories and their own perceptions and take on the issues.

The conversation has to continue…and I hope people are listening.

Especially the ones who didn’t get it the first time around.

That’s all for this time…go read something else.

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