Why even bother? When you get called a “hater” if you question anything, or “judgmental” for trying point out problems within a group, why even include yourself in a fandom? My husband is not a fanboy but, when he took me to be his wife, he took on my obsessions, too. He has dutifully watched more episodes of Doctor Who (and Outlander, and Game of Thrones, and The Walking Dead, and…) than I can count. So, when he asked, I felt like I owed him an answer.
Well, it’s not always like this, I told him.
And that is true. In fact, most of the people are really nice and just want to share something they have in common. But, really, it is more than that. When you find another fan, it’s like recognizing a part of yourself in someone else. Whatever other differences you have (race, gender, economic, religious, whatever), you still have THIS in common. And because you respect* that person, you listen with an open heart.
Of all the words that I have heard to describe The Best Things About Fandoms, “respect” is the word that has come up the most. Respect was what made people stay. Lack of it had them running for the hills. Such a small word to hold so much power.
Respect doesn’t mean I have to agree with you. Respect doesn’t mean that I have to approve of your trashing someone’s weight or boobs or wardrobe. Respect doesn’t mean that I should fake-applaud if you roll on the floor to look up someone’s kilt**. Yeah, not going to fake applaud that. Up-kilting is creepy. Period.
Respect does mean that I will listen to you. We can talk (without name calling), and hopefully find some common ground. We can agree to disagree. Nothing wrong with that. Different opinions are good. If we all agreed, the conversation would be pretty short (not to mention boring).
And I have LOVED the conversation…and I have learned a lot. The comments have led me to some really respectful fans. I found Positively Outlander over on Facebook, where fans can bond over the books: low drama and high respect. If you’ve given up on Facebook groups, check them out***. They might make you change your mind.
I was also invited to hang out over at Terry Dresbach’s forum, and the fans over there were incredibly welcoming. They immediately made me comfortable, and within a few minutes I felt perfectly at home. Like, seriously at home–there was talk about body hair, and books, about somehow or other we got on the topic of Amanda Palmer (oh, right! niplashes!), and there might have been some fangirl squeeing, and…it was wonderful.
At its best, fandom IS wonderful. People come together to discuss things, to change things, to raise money for charities, and to support each other. People find things in common and build on that, and that is why we bother.
Being a fan is bigger than just finding someone else who thinks that Graham McTavish rocks the felted bonnet, or that Sam Heughan’s should be the voice of the next iPhone (seriously, so much better than Siri), it is about finding new people. People who make you think and who expose you to new things. Your people.
*See that word there? Hang on to it. It changes everything.
**I heard about this incident in the comments on the Objectification post. This is the kind of crap that gives fandoms a bad name. If a man did that to a female actress, he would have been (rightfully) arrested. Don’t be THAT fan.
***I am sure there are plenty more respectful Facebook groups, and you are more than welcome to list them in the comments!