“Stranger Danger”

Just like my first article, this past weekend I went to a convention in downtown LA. This time it was Comikaze, a sort of San Diego Comic Con for Los Angeles. It was very much like the last one only surprisingly less of an attendance which was a bit disappointing. I craved an experience like last time, where I felt so free and outside of myself.

I did get a bit of that experience but not one as powerful as the last time. It did make me realize how far I have come in the past year. Last year I was just coming out of sober living and looking for a job doing something creative with my photography. Searching Craigslist I found a listing for a gig to cover the convention for a pop culture blog website. I sent a cover letter hoping for the best. At that point I had no experience writing for a blog, but I knew I always enjoyed writing and debated doing a blog myself. I would also be able to break out my camera and start getting creative which was important to me in getting sober.

The experience was amazing last year, I had never gone to such an event before that time and I was absolutely enthralled. I dove in headfirst taking pictures, chatting, interviewing artists, getting the skinny on upcoming movies. I wrote three blogs for the website and got great feedback. Unfortunately the gig did not lead to regular work but it had opened the door to possibilities I did not know existed. I then knew I wanted to do something creative and that my writing was a strong skill I could rely on in the future. Anyways fast forward a year and here I am, going to that same event with more experience under my belt.

I enjoy these conventions, most of my friends in AA don’t exactly share the same interests I have but they certainly respect it. Unfortunately that means I don’t have a lot of close friends to ‘geek out’ with. One place I can talk about these things is an online message board devoted to comics and collecting. Feeling comfortable with branching out and socializing with the attendees like last time I decided to post to this message board saying that I would be going, and asked if anyone was also attending would like to meetup. I then left my email and hoped for the best, that I would make a friend outside my normal social circles that had the same interests. Sure enough I got a response, we made a plan to meet in the main exhibit hall that day. There were others that chimed in saying they were attending but didn’t want to meet up. I could understand that someone would be uncomfortable meeting up with a random stranger on the internet but I wondered why is that?

In today’s society people are afraid of people. We connect these days through so many online mediums and social networks but we are afraid to connect on levels outside of that. Why is that? In the 1950’s neighbors used to know and talk with one another. They would go socialize, have dinner together, drink and play cards. I guess I remember that watching The Wonder Years when I was young. Is it because we now have multiple channels with 24 hour ‘if it bleeds it leads stories’? Inundated with information about the latest multiple homicides and what everyday item could be harming your children. Has the world truly gotten more dangerous? Or are we more sensitive to it? The leading primetime shows are serial dramas about murder and what dangerous people lurk outdoors. I dont want to minimize actual news as mass shootings as that is a major problem in this country but when did we get so paranoid about other people?

I am a culprit of this too of course. I only know what my neighbors names are and what they do and thats it. The neighbors on one side of the house I talk to every few months, they are super friendly and also in recovery. On the other side of the house I wave every so often if we are out front at the same time. I don’t even know what the neighbors across the street look like. When I was young I remember ‘stranger danger’ being a concern in the forefront of my mind. I clearly remember looking staring outside the window if any car came down the street I didn’t recognize. I was terrified of someone breaking into the house at a young age. If there was any strange sound I would run right to the window and watch carefully. Where would I have learned this at a young age? Part of it was probably early manifestations of anxiety another part was I would imagine school taught me it. I don’t ever remember my parents doing the same thing and it certainly wasn’t a learned behavior. I don’t want to make sweeping generalizations but my point is, as a society we don’t really want to connect with others outside of what’s in front of us.

As for the good the person I met up with was absolutely awesome to hang out with. It turns out hes only a stones throw away from where I live. We are both into the same comics and collections and both don’t have many friends in the area that are into the same things. I had an absolute blast and hope to meet up again and become better friends. It was the first time I really hung out with someone outside my AA circles here and it was an enriching experience to bond with someone with the same interests that I can’t with current friends. I really want to thank him for taking the chance to meet with a random stranger on the internet. It sounds corny as hell but a stranger is a friend we haven’t met. I wish more people would take a chance and talk to that stranger.

C.S. Bridger is an LA based writer and photographer trying to make sense of recovery

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