You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) written and read by Felicia Day
When Felicia Day was a girl, all she wanted was to connect with other kids (desperately). Growing up in the Deep South, where she was “home-schooled for hippie reasons,” she looked online to find her tribe. The internet was in its infancy and she became an early adopter at every stage of its growth—finding joy and unlikely friendships in the emerging digital world. Her relative isolation meant that she could pursue passions like gaming, calculus, and 1930’s detective novels without shame. Because she had no idea how “uncool” she really was.
But if it hadn’t been for her strange background— the awkwardness continued when she started college at sixteen, with Mom driving her to campus every day—she might never have had the naive confidence to forge her own path. Like when she graduated as valedictorian with a math degree and then headed to Hollywood to pursue a career in acting despite having zero contacts. Or when she tired of being typecast as the crazy cat-lady secretary and decided to create her own web series before people in show business understood that online video could be more than just cats chasing laser pointers.
Felicia’s rags-to-riches rise to internet fame launched her career as one of the most influential creators in new media. Ever candid, she opens up about the rough patches along the way, recounting battles with writer’s block, a full-blown gaming addiction, severe anxiety and depression—and how she reinvented herself when overachieving became overwhelming.
It’s been more than year since I read or listened to a memoir. I think I can still count all the memoirs I’ve ever read on one hand. I guess it’s not really my genre. Most lives don’t have the metatextual intricacy or the teenagers and lazers I usually go for. Oddly enough, Felicia Day’s kind of does.
And that’s not even why I chose the audiobook. Like the last memoir I took in, I’d heard plenty of good things about it and it was read by the author. I think the latter’s pretty important. A dissociated narrator reading someone else’s autobiographical material makes me go Twilight Zone.
But it was really because of World of Warcraft. Yes, we’d seen Felicia Day in Buffy and then Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, but I never went out of my way to read about the lives of any of the principals. It was “Do You Wanna Date My Avatar” playing while we waited for a raid to start. It was watching The Guild on off nights.
So I expected some stuff about childhood and some stuff about Geek and Sundry and I was hoping for a little bit about that moment where our lives intersected someone else’s, however briefly and tenuously. What I got was a surprisingly relatable story about a child prodigy that was part Real Genius and part every nerd everywhere. It was entertaining before WoW entered the picture.
When it did, I learned that Codex, portrayed in The Guild as a priest, was actually a warlock. I’ll just say that made things personal. Suddenly the whole narrative made so much more sense.
Day strips her rise to celebrity down to the bones, showing how it’s dirty and odd and difficult. And then all of the sudden it’s not. And even now it’s sort of specific and even kind of weird. Except on the internet.
It’s an empowering story. And an entertaining one. Encountering it at my age I can pass on whatever wisdom it has to offer to others. But I’d definitely hand it out to teenagers and college students if that wouldn’t be creepy and expensive.
Recommended for fans of Bossypants, Terry Gilliam, and Malefic Raiment.