Convention Pro Tips: Don’t be THAT Guy
By: Meg Humphrey
I’m heading off to Star Wars Celebration Anaheim (and Disneyland!) and I wanted to share some pearls of wisdom about not being the person that other people dislike that I learned from Celebration VI and from going to cons in general. You’ll no doubt see people do all of these things, but just because others do it doesn’t make it right. Take the high road! Set a good example! Be a decent human being!
If you’re sitting through a panel to get an exclusive or for a later panel, DON’T use it as free time. At CVI, I was super excited to go to a Fan Made Collectibles Panel (run by a fellow Seattle-ite). They were giving out exclusive Star Tots after every panel in that room which resulted in the majority of the 200 person room filling with people who didn’t care about the panel. While I’m morally opposed to this (what about all the people who actually care about the panel topic??), the worst part was that these people chatted with each other, talked on their phones, ate loudly, and took copious amounts of bathroom breaks, among other obnoxious things. I could barely hear the speakers! If you’re playing the system for whatever reason, at least do it in a way that is respectful to the fans around you.
Don’t take advantage of having friends wait in line for you. I get it, some lines are terribly long and you want to do things like use the restroom or eat – that’s totally cool. But the most disheartening thing to see is when you’re near the cut off (but you’re totally going to make it!!) and 10 minutes before the line starts moving you see dozens of people filling space in front you. There is a fine line with this because peoples’ schedules can be packed so tight and there’s plenty of feelings of entitlement, but here are some helpful suggestions:
Get as many people of your group there when you first line up. Tell the people in front of and behind you how many people are in your group and then let them know if you’re going to be gone longer than a bathroom break (you might want to mention it anyway since lines can be long). Limit the number of people you save for – half of your group should stay in line at all times.
Don’t get upset if a cosplayer, artist, author, etc. don’t want to fulfill your request. Keep in mind that these people have probably been asked this question at least a couple hundred times that day. They might be tired or hungry (or even worse, hangry) or have some place they need to be. Most of these people are kind folks, so don’t go bashing them on Twitter or Facebook just because they told you no or “gave you attitude.” YOU might not have come across all that great either.
Don’t get exclusives just to resell them! Again, this is just something that I’m morally opposed to that will probably never stop. Booths at Celebration would have exclusives from other vendors (against the rules) with a 100% price hike. Full sets of Star Tots were available on eBay before they were even all handed out. When you do this kind of stuff, you’re breaking some person’s heart who earnestly wanted the exclusive or wanted to see a panel for their personal happiness, not for profit. Note: picking up things for friends who won’t be there is not included in this rant (unless you upcharge them, then you’re not being very friendly).
Social Slippery Slope Part 1) Don’t be unfriendly to people you don’t know who try to reach out to you. Not everyone going to Celebration will have an amazing Twitter made group of friends at the ready (love you cuties). I went to CVI with my dad and knew absolutely no one else there since it was a) in Florida and b) I was not active in any online Star Wars communities. I would smile at people and compliment outfits and try to spark up conversations while waiting in line, but 95% of the time I was shot down because they were already with a group and apparently didn’t need more friends. It doesn’t take much to have a conversation with someone, especially since you obviously have a common interest to talk about. When you don’t feel like interacting (being social is tiring) at least politely let them know that you’re tired or whatever. It’s much better than ignoring them or giving them the side-eye.
Social Slippery Slope Part 2) Don’t continue to inject yourself into someone’s presence when they do not want you there. On the flip side, don’t continue pushing yourself on someone if they’re not receptive. No one is obligated to give you their attention. I understand that reading body language can be hard. Nerds in general are stereotyped with poor social skills and I have met a lot who live up to this generalization. There are also very polite nerds who won’t blatantly tell you “don’t talk to me.” Here are some things to look out for that say “leave me alone” without actually saying it:
Person does not talk to you. Person gives you short, closed ended answers. Person does not look at you, even if they do talk to you. Person is reading/has headphones in/otherwise looking occupied. Person physically turns their back to you.
Make sense? Now go have fun (and don’t be THAT guy)!