Who is it that welcomes us to the Sherlockian world?
We've got no official greeter. No "Welcome Wagon." No central society that wants that job . . . at least in America.
It really depends upon where you first land that you find a welcome that suits you. It's a lot like finding new friends . . . you never know when that chemistry is going to hit. There are those happy souls that will tell you the whole Sherlockian world is full of the best people, who will happily invite you into their midst with open arms. As a little discussion on my Twitter feed demonstrated again today, those open arms often have expectations.
Sometimes, those expectations are openly stated. A monthly library discussion group will announce that it's going to talk about a particular short story. A film night will publicize that a particular movie is going to be the focus. And unfortunately, there have always been groups that feel the need to restrict their membership . . . and yet want to proudly publicize their existence, and those restrictions they've chosen to impose, at which point the "open arms" require you to be a certain sort of person.
Being welcomed to the Sherlockian world simply means that someone was happy to see you. All the traditions of this club or that, all the fusses of this particular Sherlockian or that, can really mess that up for you sometimes. Let me tell you, even if you're in this hobby for decades, there are still going to be times when you feel like the Sherlockian world is not going to be happy to see you.
Because it isn't just groups that sometimes have expectations.
We enter any group setting carrying our expectations with us. I've known so many first-timers who walk into a local group feeling like they'll be a novice among experts, when, truth be told, half the people in said local scion haven't even read all the stories and just show up for the company. Even the Baker Street Irregulars of New York have had meetings in their past when people got invitations for non-Sherlockian friends who didn't care enough about Sherlock to shut up for the program. Imagine expecting the Sherlockian crème de la crème and walking into that mess.
Sometimes Sherlockian society welcomes us, and sometimes we don't welcome it.
Before the internet, you'd sometimes didn't find out who the assholes were until you met face-to-face and they inflicted their lack of grace upon you. And you hoped they weren't the one running the club meetings. Sherlockians, sad to say, are not always the best people. There's enough good ones that you could usually get past the awful ones, but now we've got some generational divides hitting us hard and a lot of random intel coming at us before we even meet people. Boomers who are sure things will always be as they were, post-millennials who grew up with fandom habits evolved from other media, people on every side of every spectrum, and as a result, some folks that might seem a lot worse than they really are just because we and they don't quite understand the other side.
Our Sherlockian world doesn't have any official greeters, which means we're all the unofficial greeters, if we're going to interact with others on the subject of Sherlock Holmes. Which is a good subject to have in your mind when you do greet someone, because Sherlock Holmes was, as a part of his detective being, interested in finding out just what other people were about, and what their story was. And there's no better place to start learning about someone knowing that they love Sherlock Holmes and John H. Watson as a starting point.
Welcome to the Sherlockian world, if anyone hasn't greeted you yet. Some of us are still trying to figure out how that part works, if this little ramble on the subject hasn't betrayed that fact. Hope you can welcome us to your Sherlockian world as well.