Over the last weekend, tumblr and every other piece of social media was full of people talking about how much they wished they were at San Diego Comic Con.
Meanwhile, I was so glad that I wasn't.
I love conventions, I actually wish I could go to more of them. But I love them for completely different reasons than most of the people who were talking about SDCC. I love seeing cosplayers, I love seeing friends I don't hang out with too often. I like to be in an area full of people with similar interests just to talk to random strangers. And I enjoy the occasional odd encounter with a star of a favorite show in an elevator.
What I hate is lines and waiting. My sister dubbed it "wait rage" a few weeks ago. I hate waiting, I can't stand it unless I have something specific to do while I'm waiting. But in general, the thing I'm waiting for better be worth wasting this precious amount of my minutes on Earth. And while I love a lot of the things that were happening at SDCC, I could read about it all from home without having to camp out in a line for three days for a chance to MAYBE make it in the door.
Plus I heard that they weren't even clearing the rooms in between panels, so half the time you would be waiting in line and not get in because somebody had camped a chair in the room the entire day and they might not have even been there for what you were trying to see.
I don't know the solution to this problem in general (besides clearing the room, which I know takes precious time but come on, it's a necessity). Dragon*Con has a pretty big problem with it as well. The last few times I've been to bigger conventions it's been with a press badge, so I've thankfully been able to enjoy the event without too much waiting. But one year at Otakon I waited in a twelve block long line, outside, in the August heat of Baltimore, for a concert that turned out not to be any good. They hadn't set up the sound system properly so the music sounded terrible, and the seats we got after waiting so many hours were so far back that we were getting assaulted with echoes as well. The whole thing was a complete and utter waste, we left after maybe twenty minutes.
And that's the thing about these events. Sometimes there's a brilliant and amazing thing that you wish you'd been there for, but it's not like you'll miss out on the big announcements or not know what's going on. Waiting in a line for a signing is one thing, getting that brief moment of one on one with your favorite star is pretty awesome and so I don't begrudge anybody that. But camping out for two days for a Q&A panel, where you probably won't get to ask your question and 90% of the questions will be either something easily found elsewhere or the person asking spending five minutes talking about how much they love the people on the panel...in my world that equation isn't worth it.
Maybe I've gotten jaded from attending too many conventions and seeing too many panels. Some people will probably say I'm just not a big enough fan, and that might be true. I can't think of anybody that I am just so enamored with that I would wait five hours for a chance to stand in the back of a room and listen to them talk. I would pay for a ticket to a limited seating event that guaranteed I got in the room without having to wait, sure. But my time is worth more than money, and I only get so much of it. I'd rather spend it reading about SDCC from home and then going out and doing anything I wanted that weekend than waiting in line.
I know there's no easy solution, and like I said, I don't know what it would be. But the big conventions really need to address this problem. Because I for one am not counting the days until I might be able to go to SDCC unless it's with a press badge and a particular project in mind. Going as a fan just seems like an experience in camping, and I'd rather do that outside.