It’s whispered across space, time, ComicCon, and the web – “I didn’t choose the fandom life, the fandom life chose me.” Be you a SuperWhoLockian, a Potterhead, a Trekkie or something entirely different, you know how it goes: You fall in love with [insert obsession here] one day, and the next day, you begin to seek out others with whom you can obsess. You may find others to bond with on Tumblr, LiveJournal, a fan site or among already existing friends. Regardless of where you find people who are equally as in love with that special show, movie, band, etc., it’s all over. Once you’ve made contact, you’re in the fandom.
At first, fandom life is just peachy. After all, who wouldn’t be happy to bond with people over common interests, people who don’t care how many hours you spend raving about a character or analyzing a plot twist? On the surface, it’s all in good fun. But then one day, perhaps a few weeks or months into your time as a member of the fandom, you find it: the dark side. The general rule of any fandom is that the longer you’re in one, the more you come to realize that no one is more critical of something than it’s biggest fans. Blame it on the best qualities a fandom can have, like passion and the desire for their obsession to be the best product possible, but it indeed happens. Casual fans of something don’t care if a minor plot point in a film bothers them or if they don’t care for a certain couple on a television show. Those deeply involved in the fandom, though? Oh, you bet they care. Not only do they care, but they’re also willing to fight to the death to defend their opinions about “ships” (romantic couples a fan wishes to be together), characters, writing – anything under the sun. Fandom in-fighting ensues.
It is important to be critical of even one’s favorite things. Following blindly is never suggested, even when it comes to popular culture. But when critiquing turns into something deeper and more offensive, fights break out. Is it utterly ridiculous to argue with someone over a character or coupling preference? Of course. And yet, it happens all the time. Oncers get heated over the “SwanQueen” ship; Whovians debate over the “best” Doctor; Sherlockians simply lose their minds while enduring a crazy long hiatus and quarrel over “Johnlock” shipping; fans of all music genres argue about lyric meanings, favorite albums and the like – and the list goes on and on. Think of any fandom, and there are probably ten different things to fight about in said fandom at any given time. While it is indeed a silly pastime to fight within a fandom, there is a (somewhat) reasonable explanation.
Fandoms tend to get excited over the things they are fans of (hence being in the fandom to begin with). Oftentimes, it is found that individuals became a fan of something or someone in particular during a time when they needed a bit of a pick-me-up. When people find solace or happiness in something like a show, it automatically becomes “theirs.” Particularly on the Internet, where people go to over share and loudly voice their opinion, feathers are bound to get ruffled when discussing what thousands or millions of individuals consider to be “theirs,” whatever that may be.
As someone who has seen many a fandom torn in her lifetime, the only advice I can give is this: enjoy whatever it is that you consider to be “yours.” And if you must engage in a little debate, play nice!