By @SimonCocking, review of You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): A Memoir by Felicia Day. Available from Amazon here.

The instant New York Times bestseller from “queen of the geeks” Felicia Day, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is a memoir about her unusual upbringing, her rise to internet stardom, and embracing her weirdness to find her place in the world.

When Felicia Day was a girl, all she wanted was to connect with other kids (desperately). Growing up in the Deep South, where she was “home-schooled for hippie reasons,” she looked online to find her tribe. The Internet was in its infancy and she became an early adopter at every stage of its growth—finding joy and unlikely friendships in the emerging digital world.

Felicia’s rags-to-riches rise to Internet fame launched her career as one of the most influen­tial creators in new media. Ever candid, she opens up about the rough patches along the way, recounting battles with writer’s block, a full-blown gaming addiction, severe anxiety, and depression—and how she reinvented herself when overachieving became overwhelming.

This is a great book on a few different levels. In one way it clearly highlights the value and opportunities that the rapid growth of the internet has brought individuals to discover and express their own creativity. You might be the ‘weird’ outcast in your class, but online you can often find others who are more like you, into the same things, happy, amused and entertained by the same niche topics and jokes. This outlet can often be a lifeline for those feeling ostracised and apart from those directly next to them in the ‘real’ world. At the same time Day is aware that it is a two-edged sword, that offers both massive potential to help, and yet also to harm as well.

The final chapters are a clear exposition of the issues that can spin out of control, in her case via the #GamerGate issue/thread /topic that became so toxic and potentially damaging to many of those involved in it. Day initially tried to stay out of this issue, having already been doxed by 4Chan the year before, but at the same time was conscious that inaction was a form of acquiescence to the bullys too. She tries to walk a careful path through it, and still ends up getting flamed and trolled heartlessly (do trolls abuse in any other way?)

These are relevant issues for us all to consider, and especially for kids and teens especially. Both the teenagers in our house have already read the book, and it is also a good road map for preteens too, to help them to negotiate their first steps into this big, wonderful and yet also potentially highly toxic online world out there. Whether or not Day intended this book to be a helpful guide for emerging millennials into the tricky morass of online culture, subgroups, reddit threads and beyond, it is actually is a great addition to the world of books about the internet. It is also fun, self-aware, humorous and a great read too. Check it out.

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