Someone made the oddest comment at WorldCon: Cons are not real life.
Sweet Life of Mine, how do we pull this off? How do we manage to escape this strange "real life" thing and enter this con reality? Is it beyond liminality? (Currently Roomy's favourite word. Two anthropology of religion majors living in the same house makes for strange words being tossed around.)
I didn't break it to the person at the time, but let's be clear: everything's "real life." There's no escape. BWA HA HA HA! Work is "real life." Writing, creative pursuits - also "real life." (Okay, I'll stop using quotation marks. Sarcasm implied.) Your ass on the couch watching TV - real life!
OMG, it's everywhere!! RUN!!!!
On a more serious note, I've been thinking about this comment because I get the pleasure tomorrow of sitting on the "So This is your First Con" panel at Can-Con. I've been trying to get my thoughts together on what useful advice to give that would stem above "cons are fun, people are cool! Be nice and respectful." Which I'll iterate anyway. Spoilers...
Getting back to real life. I think cons are so much more important to 'real life' (okay, downgraded to single quote - best I can do) for me than many other things. First of all, I get to meet people who like the same things I do and can chat about them. Cons are also a place for me to do business. Anyone who wants to work in sci-fi (writing, drawing, blogging, marketing, etc.) should see cons as a very real and very important part of their professional careers.
Writing is real life, too. Boy is it ever. There are deadlines to follow, edits to review, tears to be shed, maniacal laughter to be stifled... It's all very real.
We tend to apply the "real life" label to the stuff that involves money. Or, to turn things around, the stuff that bears immediate consequences (such as paying rent). By saying that cons are not part of real life, it suggests that there are no consequences to anything done or said at them. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that's not true for most people.
By implying that cons, or creative pursuits, are not riddled with consequences (as is life), we assign power to succeed to something else than our actions. I'm not defining success as bestseller-dom here, but rather as just not making a general ass of yourself in life. Some days, that's all the success that can be achieved, let's face it.
So do you yourself a favour. Label everything that you love so much and want to keep enjoying and succeeding at as part of your real life. Don't cheapen it or rob it of intensity by assigning it to not-real-life (?)
For those who argue that societal pursuits define real life and personal pursuits define everything else, think about that. You're assigning all of your reality to this great beast that is society (Du DUM!).
Stop doing that.