For another project I have been working on, I have been thinking a lot about myself and how I got involved with my first fandom. I don’t consider myself an exclusive member of any one fandom, but a card carrying member of numerous fandoms. I can carry my own with the Whovians, the Star Wars fans, the Marvel fans, the Lord of the Rings faithful, DC fans, and yes, Star Trek fans. My first love, however, was Star Trek. That was the first show I remember being obsessed with as a kid. The first convention I ever went to was a Star Trek convention. Star Trek was the franchise that launched me into a life of geekdom. For me, when I think about all the things I enjoy today, about all of my geekiness, it all comes back to Star Trek.
Why Star Trek? The short and simple answer is that Star Trek is the greatest Science Fiction show to ever air on TV. Pretty straight forward. It is hard for me to think of any show being better than Star Trek. There was just something totally immersive about the franchise. To be clear, when I say Star Trek, I am mostly referring to TNG, but I was blessed to be an adolescent during the ultimate Star Trek age. Think about it, in the fall of 1996, Deep Space 9 was going into its 5th season, Voyager was going into their second season and First Contact was playing in theaters, which was the best of all the Next Generation movies (probably my favorite Trek movie). It was a great time to be a Trek fan, and that is probably why Trek was more than just my first passion. It’s always my favorite. It always comes back to Trek.
I loved the message of hope that Star Trek represented. This wasn’t a dystopian future where we totally murdered each other and blew up the planet. This was a future where we faced trials and came together as a result. Knowledge and tolerance won out in the end, over hate. That was an important message for me as a teenager. I wasn’t ever popular in school. I always had my own little group of friends, and some of these friends are the best people I have ever known, but i was never homecoming King material. Looking back, that’s totally fine. I think in the end, we geeks have inherited the Earth, or we are at least on our way. Back then, though, it was rough. Star Trek always offered me an escape from a tough time. I was the fat kid who didn’t grow up in the neighborhood and who didn’t quite always fit in. When I watched Star Trek, I felt at home. I felt like I belonged. I know that sounds cheesy, because it was just a TV show, but it is a reality for a lot of kids. The only place they really feel like they belong is when they are part of whatever fantasy world they love. Star Trek was always that for me.
I know it doesn’t have all the same kind of action and adventure that other Sci Fi franchises have, but that was appealing as well. It wasn’t a shoot first galaxy in Star Trek. It was galaxy that valued diplomacy and peace, using the weapons as a last defense. The Enterprise, the largest ship in the fleet was not a war ship. It was an exploration vessel. That was their mission, not to conquer new worlds, but to explore and discover. What a cool thought. When I was a kid, I remember watching that, and Picard was awesome because he could end a conflict with his words instead of fighting. I wanted that skill. If only I could find a way to get the mean kids at school to leave me alone just by talking like Picard did. He was like a superhero.
As I have gotten older, those lessons have always stuck with me. I manage a team at work, and sometimes I find myself thinking about how Captain Picard would react to a certain situation, and then I try to do it. I’m still the fat guy at work, but that’s ok now. I have learned how to work with all sorts of people who are very different than I am, because I learned from Star Trek that those differences make your team stronger. I learned, from Generations, that the most important thing i could have is my family. Both Picard and Kirk gave up the opportunity for a family for their careers, and regretted it in the movie. I won’t make that same mistake. These are the kind of lessons I learned from Star Trek, and how they apply to me.
I don’t know why it started with Star Trek instead of something else, like Star Wars, but somehow, I am glad it did. As I look at who I am and what I enjoy, it all comes back to Star Trek, and frankly, I am glad it does. I think that’s why I get a little upset with the reboot movies, and Paramount who is pushing them to be less and less Star Trek-y. What’s wrong with being Star Trek-y? I have spent my whole life being somewhat Star Trek-y, and I’m better for it.
What about you? It may not be Star Trek, but what was your first passion? Which one from your childhood resonates with you still today?