Serdar and I have been having an on-again, off-again discussion on fandom and it’s value. I offered that it could be limited, and he responded with a deeper analysis of fandom that included speculation on pathological fandoms and our inabilities to identify them.
Eventually I found out pretty much any fandom you could name was rife with this sort of insularity. Many folks cared more about the label, about what belonged inside it or not inside it, than they did about the possibilities that could be awakened by whatever was tagged with the label. I know now, full well, that a lot of circles of fandom are not like this. But I find the best way to defend against that is to start with the person rather than the interests.
No fandoms are perfect. I can pretty much find a wank battle anywhere in fandom with a bit of surfing, and between reddit and Tumblr it’s probably easy for anyone to do so. But I think we still consider fandom a good thing overall.
After Serdar’s comments, I began thinking of my own fandoms and interests. I realized that I treat a fandom as a good thing by default, as long as it’s not a fandom of something obviously bad. I did this due to my own positive experiences in fandom, often ignoring my own experiences that were negative. Sure my experiences were on the whole positive – but not entirely.
Thus, I think we should consider fandom a phenomena. It is something that happens, and it is not necessarily good or bad. Often it has been a good thing – I think it’s been more a good thing or bad – but that’s because we made it into something good, often without thinking of it. It can easily be misused and messed up as we’ve also seen.
This may seem a bit sad to say as many of us have had positive experiences, and because it reinforces the cynciism we often see about enthusiasm. But it’s more a reminder to be responsible for what we do and take this pheomena and make it into something good.
Fandom can be a good thing. It often is because we’ve made it such.
It’s up to us to figure out how to make it good, keep it good, and make it better. It’s up to us to take this human phenomena and make it work for us. There’s no magic to fandom – just what we make.