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!