As I noted in my last post, it’s so easy to be an overbearing fan–or to bear the brunt of an overbearing fan.
There’s a lot that can be troubling about fandoms, in no small part because there’s a lot that’s troubling about Internet culture. (To be very, very fair, there’s even more that’s troubling about humanity. None of these things are surprising. But we’ll zoom back in.)
So yeah, specifically, fandoms can be toxic places and sometimes it seems the more social media we have, the more ways we have to be awful to one another. We’re unduly harsh with each other online and altogether too quick to come back with a “SHUT YOUR WHORE MOUTH” when someone makes a comment we don’t like or with which we disagree.
I haven’t actively participated in a fandom online for a very long time, in part because I’m sort of lazy about such things and in part because of the many ways in which these online communities can become poisoned. Now most of my fandom interactions are consequently 1) casual conversations on Twitter or 2) reblogging on Tumblr. Otherwise, I lurk–quietly enjoying other people’s creations.
What I have never abandoned, however, is my IRL fandom community, otherwise known as my friends. Over the weekend, I reunited with my college roommates for our somewhat belated holiday celebrations. We caught up, we drank wine, we played board games–but we also talked a lot about different media (as new as Star Wars VII and as old as Titus Andronicus) we loved, which is something we’ve always done.
The essence of fandom to me is actually that. It’s sharing the things that move you with people you also enjoy. Sometime’s they introduce you to new stories and vice versa. Sometimes you shared particular loves when you met. But it’s that quality that makes any fandom appealing–the desire to spread and share enthusiasm.
I have a particular affection for little fandoms for this very reason. Usually people are just thrilled at the prospect of finding someone who appreciates the same book/movie/TV series/comic/game that they do. They can’t afford to be awful because they disagree about pairings or interpretations. There aren’t enough of them.
Again, there are ways to do that that make room for people’s different tastes and preferences. I know of no person with whom I share all of my likes and dislikes. It’s our uniqueness in this regard that makes things interesting and I believe in most cases it can be a positive aspect of fandom instead of a negative.
It’s an extremely silly thing, to my mind, to let a piece of entertainment divide people. But it’s still an entirely lovely thing when that same piece of entertainment unites us.
How do you do fandom?