Published Feb 22, 2021
Getting Social With Star Trek
In the wake of 2016, one fan found new hope and community through Star Trek's Twitter community.
By Jay Stobie
In the mind of John from Minnesota, Twitter isn’t such a bad place for a Star Trek fan to spend some downtime… for the most part. In 2016, disheartened by the ethical implications of the American presidential election, John sought out a way to ease his mind and divert his focus away from current events. As is the case with many problems, Star Trek was the solution. Initiating a complete franchise rewatch and creating a Twitter account to engage with other fans combined to become the perfect method to remedy the fan’s despair. The Minnesotan kindly took some time out of his day to speak to StarTrek.com about using Twitter to connect with the Star Trek community, understanding the appeal of a Star Trek rewatch, and much more.
Although he occasionally watched Star Trek: The Next Generation with his parents in his youth, seeing Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country in the theatre solidified our interviewee’s fandom. “That movie completely sucked me in, and I fell in love,” explains John. “From that point forward, I inhaled all of the movies and began watching TNG more intently. I have a love and respect for the world where [the Star Trek series are] contained, and all the stories that have been told within it.”
John cites TNG as his most beloved series due its connection to his childhood. However, the enthusiastic fan also ranks TOS’s “The Corbomite Maneuver” and “The Devil in the Dark,” ENT’s season-long Xindi arc, DSC’s “Context is for Kings” and “New Eden,” TNG’s “The Inner Light” and “Chain of Command,” DS9’s “Whispers” and “Far Beyond the Stars,” VOY’s “The Thaw” and “Blink of an Eye,” PIC’s “The Impossible Box” and “Nepenthe,” and the Lower Decks installments “Second Contact” and “No Small Parts,” as some of the episodes that stand out as his personal favorites.
As much as John enjoys diving into an installment of Star Trek in his spare time, real world issues are always at the forefront of his mind. The 2016 Presidential Election brought with it a sense of despair that intruded upon the fan’s Trek-inspired ethics. “I was heartsick after the election. To see the ideals of unity, hope, and the notion of ‘we all do better when we all do better’ lose to the divisive rhetoric of nationalism and tribalism left me broken,” recalls John. “I am an eternal optimist, always able to find the good in something, but I felt like a sunken ship.”
However, much like the brave Starfleet officers depicted on screen, John opted to be proactive and confront his feelings in a direct fashion. “Our external environment can have a significant impact on mental health and outlook, and because of that, I started to think about healthy outlets or passions that might help,” describes the intrepid fan. “To combat the daily barrage of toxic news and uncertainty, I decided to begin a full rewatch, completionist style, through all recorded Trek series and movies as a form of medicine.”
At the same time, John also started a Trek-themed Twitter account to chat about his rewatch observations. “This became part of my coping strategy, as it allowed me to meet and interact with many wonderful Trekkies on Twitter.” Utilizing hashtags and replies to the official Star Trek accounts, John discovered that connecting with other Trek enthusiasts proved to be a natural process. “One thing I love about Star Trek fans is that we find each other. We are like magnets walking around out in the world who tend to pull towards one another.”
John’s account served as an oasis from real world struggles, and he credits his Twitter friends with remedying his post-election sorrows. “It may sound overly simplistic, but I think more togetherness, in a time when people are trying to separate us into factions or tribes, just feels right,” declares the social media guru. “To know and interact with people who are out in the world, whose actions are influenced by Trek, gives me hope. The more I can interact and connect with that larger community, the better.”
Of course, the Minnesotan’s Trek-based camaraderie is not confined to online chats. “What I enjoy most about my in-person Trek friends is the ability to have long form discussions about episodes or series. Tweeting is nice, but limiting in conversation.” The studious fan even manages to incorporate lessons from Star Trek into his professional life. “I work in a leadership position, and the principles and management style of captains has certainly informed how I try to treat others, value everyone, honor diversity, and work for good.”
As for his complete rewatch, John successfully went through every episode and film over a period of about three years. From experiencing the nostalgia of his favorite episodes to catching up on others he had never seen before, the self-proclaimed Trekkie found that the rewatch revitalized him during trying times. “Some might say retreating into the world of Star Trek is pure avoidance,” says John, “but I found it to be much more of an action towards keeping my brain healthy and able to focus on the principles and ideals that rise above the noise and garbage. It gave me an added layer of buoyancy and resiliency and genuinely helped.”
The concept of rewatching individual Star Trek series or embarking on a run through of the entire franchise is one that is familiar to every fan. Those who participate in the Star Trek community on Twitter frequently read posts from friends which chronicle various rewatches. Why does the activity hold such appeal in our fandom? “There’s a big difference in my mind from watching an episode here and there, and binging,” answers John. “When I watch a show start to finish, versus every once in a while, it permeates my brain differently. I think about it throughout the day, it’s more in the front of mind. I find myself immersed in that world.”
In addition to permitting him to escape from the negativity of the daily news cycle, the rewatch also enhanced John’s appreciation for Star Trek. “I found a lot of things I had missed previously, which was a kick. For the series where I hadn’t seen start to finish, it was much more gratifying to see the story in full, to watch how characters progressed and the casts matured and gelled together,” says the Minnesotan. “It gave me a deeper appreciation for each cast and their characters, and great respect for the stories they were telling. From an overall standpoint, the rewatch gave me a more complete picture of this world, its timelines, and the themes that are displayed throughout.”
Which episodes seemed most enchanting during this resolute fan’s rewatch? He believes that the serious installments held just as much allure as the more humorous ones. “The lighter episodes were probably my favorite, where the stakes weren’t necessarily life or death. This reflected my perspective of wanting to escape some of the heaviness of the world,” says John, “but the more poignant episodes resonated deeply too, as a contrast to real world events. TNG’s “Chain of Command,” DS9’s fifth, sixth, and seventh seasons, and many other episodes strongly resonated with the nightly news.”
As his rewatch journey progressed, John took to his Twitter account to share his experience with the Star Trek community. “As I watched each episode and found interesting, funny, or completely odd moments, I would post images from the episodes as I went. In that way, the rewatch definitely helped connect me to the larger fan base,” relays the fan. “It’s always fascinating to see how moments from these series land with people. Post something from “The Inner Light” or “The City on the Edge of Forever,” and you can just see the emotion pour out of people. Similarly, when you post something from, say, “The Thaw,” the reactions are wild and all over the place. It’s rarely dull, and it’s interesting and fun to see people reminisce and talk about each specific episode and their related thoughts, nuggets, and trivia.”
While social media can be a tumultuous place for discourse, John offers some sound advice as to how to set out to have a positive experience and engage with other fans on Twitter. “First, reflect the ideals of Trek in your behavior. We’ve seen a small but loud contingent of toxic fandom move powerfully into comments sections, with a lot of discourse that is far from optimistic or well-intentioned,” says John. “It’s helpful to not waste too much time focusing on that element and instead look for the people who celebrate what they love, versus those who make a lot of noise about what they hate. Once you find those accounts and fans, interact and engage!”
Jay Stobie (he/him) is a freelance writer who has contributed articles to the official Star Trek website and Star Trek Magazine, as well as to Star Wars Insider and the official Star Wars website. Jay also serves as a part-time assistant and consultant advising many actors and creatives who work on his favorite sci-fi shows and films. He can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @StobiesGalaxy.
Star Trek: Picard streams on Paramount+ in the United States, in Canada on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave, and on Amazon Prime Video in more than 200 countries and territories.
Star Trek: Discovery streams on Paramount+ in the United States, airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave in Canada, and on Netflix in 190 countries.
Star Trek: Lower Decks streams exclusively in the United States on Paramount+, on Amazon Prime Video in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Japan, India and more, and in Canada, airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave.