I’ve done a few defense posts in the past. I’ve had very debatable success with them but it seems I still haven’t learned my lesson. In many ways I am radically mediocre. I tend to fall pretty much in the middle of most debates. The only real anime related point I tend to advocate for is that we should try to hear each other out. I know, crazy right!
***PS I am using mediocre as in average or standard here. I really just mean that my opinions are usually conventional.***
However, lately I’ve noticed that fandoms are starting to make a pretty bad name for themselves and I think that’s unfortunate. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not exactly unearned. I myself have warned people to just stay away from fandoms in order not to ruin their anime experience. Still that’s a bit of a shame, isn’t it? And it’s not entirely fair either.
For a long time I really wanted to find a fan community I could belong to. When we discover something we’re passionate about, it’s not unusual to want to share that passion and it tends to be more fun when it’s with someone who shares our excitement. Yet finding such a community nowadays seems like tip toeing through a minefield.
Like most things, I think that the majority of fandoms tend to get spoiled by a few vocal contrarian. Most people are probably welcoming, respectful and open minded but a few more aggressive individuals will spoil the whole experience for the lot. When you’ve been a part of a fandom for a while you eventually learn who those people are and can filter them out if you wish. But even so it can be a bit exhausting and it’s frustrating until you get to that point.
This said, to label fandoms in general as one of the things “wrong” with the anime community seems a bit harsh to me. I’m not the most sociable of sorts, but I know many people that have made friends through their fandoms. Sometimes these relationships even endure after one or both people have moved on from their particular interest. Their is value in these tiny subcommunities you just have to know where to look or how.
Personally, WordPress has been a good fit. However it can be both impersonal and a little slow moving for some. Leaving comments on a blog that may never be answered or just replied to days later and usually only once, isn’t much of a social interaction when it comes down to it. I can see why some people would prefer a venue that is more responsive. On the other hand, the more immediate reactions are, the more likely they are to be disproportionate or ill thought-out. So it’s a bit of a double edged sword.
Of course fandoms themselves influence reactions as much as platforms do. Certain shows seem to attract more volatile fans than others. Actually let me rephrase that. I’m not sure it’s the fans themselves. I do believe some people simply react a lot more passionately when it comes to particular titles and are more reasonable and calm in identical situations towards other shows. And it doesn’t always depend on how much they’ve enjoyed a specific anime.
There’s certainly an element of mob mentality. When we come together as a group, we almost always influence each other. We start to adopt other people’s expressions, we consider the community’s points of view when forming our own opinions. There’s nothing surprising about that. It’s how most people have evolved to exist within societies. For me, it’s been mostly enriching.
However, when you find yourself part of a group in which certain members are consistently loud and negative about anything and anyone that doesn’t perfectly conform to their views, that influence can suddenly become stifling and uncomfortable. I’m just following a few bloggers and anime loving individuals on Twitter for instance and whenever I happen to browse my feed (as opposed to my notifications) I always want to ask people if they’re feeling ok? It seems someone is always put out about something. I can’t imagine having that as part of my day to day.
And I know for a fact I am not seeing the worst it. I remember speaking to my friend Mel (Mel in Anime Land) about her very niche experience with the My Hero Academia fanfiction community. Apparently there are turf wars going on. People get mean, spout insults and veiled passive aggressive threats if you pick the wrong *ship*. I’m not even going to get into Kpop stans, some of them get scary.
So the question becomes how do you navigate this potentially aggressive online landscape of anime and music loving folks to find the one that’s right for you? I kind of wish we had dedicated fandom mentors. Super patient and sweet fans from every specific show that could guide new comments to the right platforms and people for them. A fandom matchmaking service maybe. Wait does that exist? Like a geeky tinder. Geekder?
I got too worked up about that last idea. Need to take a breath.
Sadly I don’t really have an answer. I do believe there are wonderful fan communities out there and great people that are part of less than wonderful communities but the only way I know to discover them is to explore at your own risks.
If you do know of a nice welcoming fandom to join let us know. Hopefully I’m just out of touch and there are dozens out there!
22 thoughts on “A Cautious Defense of Fandoms”
Nice post and I think it is something that needs to be said. I actually made a number of good friends through a fan community. We started as anime fans who were friends online and now we are friends in the real world and meet up at least once a year.
I think an important thing to remember is that most of the people who argue and bloviate online are just a loud minority, and they don’t represent the opinions of the vast majority of the fandom.
When Star Wars: The Last Jedi came out I couldn’t believe all the hate it got online. People were being so shitty not only to the movie, but to the people who made it and anyone who liked it. And most of the hate seemed to come from the fact that it had more female characters than other movies or that it had an Asian actress in one of the lead roles, which is not only bigoted as hell but doesn’t really impact the story at all (at least in this context). But when I talked to people I knew IRL who saw it, they all loved it. They thought Kelly Marie Tran, Daisy Ridley, etc. did a great job and the discussion was much more civil.
I tend to keep a small circle online these days because of this. I don’t use Twitter or FB and I mostly talk about my fandom in small-ish discord chats. There’s just too many jerks online and I’d rather not deal with all the bullshit. 😣
What!!! Women in Star Wars!!! Travesty! I hope they stayed in the ships mess hall at least! I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist
I’ve stayed away from a lot of the big fandoms (AoT, Naruto, K-pop…) because of the fact they can get pretty vicious, not just for Anitwitter or shipping but just in general. Being a casual anime fan for those sorts of fandoms is probably for the best, since then you don’t have to get burnt as badly as the hardcore fans.
As for pleasant fandoms, the Boueibu fandom is definitely one (but it’s a dying cause right now, considering that the last proper Boueibu instalment wasn’t taken as well as the OG). The SGRS fandom is good if you want quality critical thoughts about the work. (Then again, these recommendations are based mostly on their Tumblr presence and considering I’ve shifted to WP now, my thoughts on them may be slightly out of date.)
I’ll keep an eye out. Haven’t really toured Tumblr in years
Geekder sounds like an interesting app! It’d be useful for fans!
While I was out not blogging for these past few months, I lingered on Twitter and yes, it can be chaotic. The most stressful arguments I saw recently are from Boku no Hero Academia, Kimetsu no Yaiba, and K-pop stans. The most peaceful group of fans I interacted with are Gintama’s and those who are from small community for anime series like Ballroom e Youkoso’s or Kono Oto Tomare’s.
It makes me sad whenever the cause of arguments are ‘shipping’, though. Those give me headaches. So, I tend to follow people with same interest and people who, even if they don’t ship (my ship or any at all), are respectful toward others.
Shipping arguments are a bit beyond me. It’s a whole new world
geekder sounds like a good app to make, I think the anime community needs that in general. All this anger and negativity in fandom has been around as long as I can remember, heck back when yahoo groups were a thing back in the day people in certain fan groups like dragonballz were jerks 80% of the time. I learned over the years to gravitate more to people who have the same or similar love for certain fandoms even though on most things we don’t agree on, but that’s ok as long as the individual isn’t a complete jerk about it.
So lowering expectations is the trick huh? Noted!
Sadly, it really is like this with every fandom. Those who shout loudest get seen more, even if they’re in the minority, and that’s where the trouble starts. You want to see in-fighting, then you should see the furry fandom in the last couple of years. That’s been a mix of loud aggression and the odd well-deserved complaint.
For me, I just try to hover closer to the people that don’t really fit the extreme end of things. That way, conversation flows rather than crashes like rapids.
Oh yes Kpop is very scary… I think I am also happy here on wordpress with all the anibloggers. Other than this I’m not really active. I think I’m happy just liking things :D.
Happy just liking things is my new motto
It is sad because it seems like there are certain topics or statements that you just don’t bring up online anymore. It is a few individuals and not the majority but it still makes me feel embarrassed to say that I am a fan in some cases. I think the main problem is that avenues like Twitter allow someone to say something without consequence- you are a just a faceless person behind your Twitter handle and it makes it easier to be a jerk since people don’t know who you are. It’s not just anime, the Star Wars community has been unbearable the last few years. The only way that I can get through this myself is to simply ignore those people and just enjoy what I want to.
well that sounds like a healthy way to go
Geekder 😂 it should totally exist. I agree with Pete, I don’t join fandoms but interact one-on-one with people. For me that’s enough, but I think a good option for a “community feeling” would be to set your own discord channel and form your own group of like-minded (and respectful) individuals. Btw, twitter is well-known as the place where everyone complains, it’s just people screaming in digital version and misdirecting their frustrations. Chances are, that personal accounts (not business/work related) that are very active there, won’t be from the kind of people you are looking for.
I,m having a very good response to my Geekder idea!
I like it too, as someone constantly looking for friends and like-minded people to share stuff with, it’s a good idea
I have no clue how to make it work sadly.
The key for me has always been less about seeking out a specific “fandom” and more about just finding like-minded individuals that you enjoy talking to. They’re not necessarily into the same things as you, but you can often exchange information with one another and learn some new stuff that you might not have considered otherwise.
Fandoms seem like a lot of work! 🙂
But they shouldn’t be…should they?
No, they shouldn’t. Unfortunately the way things have developed in terms of how people interact online mean that they absolutely are, sadly.