Come and sit with me.

Come and sit with me.

By Ben Earl 

Come and sit with me. 

Magicians love to form secret cliques and special meetings where only the 'worthy' are allowed to sit at the table. This social group-based behaviour is natural and not specific to magicians—all human societies form group-based hierarchies.

However, the tendency to form 'in-group out-group bias' at magic conventions—although inevitable—is often more harmful than helpful to either group.

As a teenager I understandably wanted to join the in-group at magic conventions. I wanted to sit with the 'cool guys'. Why? A sense of validation? A sense of acceptance? Loneliness? All of the above? 

Any attempt I made to gain entrance was effortlessly dismissed with an air of casual indifference. This was very hard for me to understand as all I wanted to do was learn and connect with others who shared my obsession. 

However, after many years, I found myself being invited to ‘sit at the table’ only to discover that it was never worth it. The in-group was no different to the out-group—except it contained larger egos, an omnipresent sense of superiority and a higher percentage of malnourished personalities. In short, it was a far worse place to be—except none of its members seemed to notice, or didn’t want to admit it to themselves.

All the effort I had spent attempting to sit with the cool guys had been misplaced. I had wasted my time, assumed too much and ignored more valuable things that were hiding in plain sight. 

These days I actively avoid any ‘cool’, in-group cliques; instinctively I reject the dynamic. I don't want to perpetuate nonsense or waste my time. 

I don't care about someone’s magic ability or their magic status. I just want to spend time with good people, regardless of who they are or what they can do. Good people are hard to find, and even harder to find at the cool table.

The next time you're at a magic convention, speak to the most isolated people or the youngsters who are looking to get involved. Seek out good people and engage with new faces. I have met some of the most amazing people this way—some of whom are now my closest friends.

If you feel like you're on the outside looking in. If you feel that you're missing out. Trust me, you're not—it's just an illusion, built on insecurity and perpetuated by people pretending to be superheroes.

You won’t find me sitting with the cool guys, I’m on the other side of the room, so come and sit with me. I’m probably with Sarah (who wears hedgehog cardigans) and Myles (who’s actually quite cool so he might find this essay offensive).

*This essay was based on the assumption that my teenage self wasn’t an unbearably annoying and socially inept individual... and you know what they say about assumptions.*

(Originally published as part of #themicroessays on Instagram, August 2019. Adapted for ‘From The Void’, January 2024.)

1 comment

Great article, that absolutely sums up every magic convention or meeting I’ve been to. Feeling like you are on the outside looking in. Thanks for the insight. Looking to joining the family


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