From online entertainment pioneer, actress, and “queen of the geeks” Felicia Day, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is a “relentlessly funny and surprisingly inspirational” (Forbes.com), memoir about her unusual upbringing, her rise to internet stardom, and embracing her weirdness to find her place in the world.
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.
Before listening to this audiobook, I was actually not that familiar with Felicia Day. Aside from seeing her in Buffy and some episodes of Supernatural, I am not at all versed in her work. Of course, being a fan of SFF and its connected media, I am familiar with her thoughts on genre, gaming, etc. So I was quite interested to read (or listen) to her memoir. What I found was… mixed. It’s certainly entertaining, though.
You’re Never Weird on the Internet is entertaining, certainly — Day’s sense of humour is very good, and deployed liberally and well throughout the memoir. I welcomed the fact that it wasn’t gross-out or mean-spirited, and I frequently found myself laughing out loud or snorting in amusement while walking down the street, listening.
A lot of attention is paid to The Guild and the author’s genuinely groundbreaking forays into online entertainment and geek culture. Other than that, though, I found the book a little thin. I don’t really think I came away much more informed than I was before. I have no doubt that I missed inside jokes for long-time fans of the author’s work (there were some that I got which I thought were pretty insider-y). It’s very well performed, the delivery is nigh-perfect. Joss Whedon’s introduction is also excellent, delivered in his relaxed manner that lead some of the jokes to sneak up brilliantly.
If you are only casually interested in Day’s work and topics of interest, then you might not be overly satisfied with this memoir. If you are a fan already, though, I suspect you’ll get far more out of it than I did. Regardless of which of those two groups you fall into, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is entertaining, has some interesting and intelligent observations about genre, the SFF community/culture, and also the changing nature of the entertainment industries. Recommended, but cautiously.