G – How long have you been in the fandom, and how has your attitude to the fandom changed in that time?
When is the time that you are “legitimately” *in* the fandom? My first posts happened on tumblr, at the end of April 2012.
Wow, six years – that’s an age… But the initial posts were lost in the ether, with no interaction happening, so the fandom didn’t know I was trying to join *haha*. Anyway, it didn’t take long, and I was drawn into the community of RA bloggers when I started to create my own contributions to it – as in: not just reblogging pictures and gifs but adding content that I had created myself. (*ooof* started out back then… and then a series of screenshots whenever “my dash did a thing”, see right). So in the early days of taking part in the fandom, there was joy that I had found other people who shared my interest, and I loved interacting with everyone, creating a feeling of community with them, mutually inspiring each other, supporting each other, generally having fun with each other. That was undoubtedly also pushed by the fact that my interest for RA was still new and I was in the “adore and adulate” stage of fangirling. I couldn’t *wait* to contribute to the fandom every day. It was an outlet that I *needed* in order to speak about this new obsession, to swoon over RA, to praise his every last eyelash. It was almost like an addiction – and the fandom was the enabler.
Funnily enough, it became much more complicated when I started also blogging on WordPress. Initially it was again lots of joy; especially because I started a new venture (and blogging series – the *ooof*s). And the joy held because my new blogging home also provided the inspiration for a new creative endeavour (the RAPSes). With new friendships being forged, the fandom proved to be a massive rock for me, when I had to deal with a bereavement. I am forever grateful for that. But maybe fandoms do not translate well across multiple platforms, or maybe it was because I was not a newbie anymore, or maybe it was just because suddenly the fandom doubled in size for me. But instead of doubling the fun, it eventually kind of halved the fun. With more people and more platforms, came more potential for conflict. Not necessarily individually between me and others, but in terms of witnessing or participating in discussions which went out of hand. My up-to-then happy attitude towards fandom definitely received a big blow when I witnessed majorly bad behaviour two years in and I realised that the fandom wasn’t a universal ‘happy place’ but had an unsavoury underbelly. I found that deeply upsetting, because I want fandom to be the place where I recharge my batteries through positive interaction
and mindless drooling. But the conflicts brought an element of mistrust, anger and fear into this sphere of my private life. Since there is enough negativity in life in general, I am not willing to deal with such in my hobby. And if fandom is connected with anger and fear, then it doesn’t provide the relaxation and happiness that I am looking for in my free time. So I stepped back a little bit, and I don’t think my attitude has really recovered since then.
It also hasn’t helped that my own, gradual distancing from the object of my admiration means that I reserve the right to be (respectfully) critical of the OOA and his projects. In the early days, I loved every little snippet I saw – now, not so much. That simply comes with time. I dislike the pressure of having to celebrate *everything* he does, and I don’t feel that it is my duty as a fan to promote him or his work.
I already do so, incidentally, every time I mention his name or his projects. I think that is enough. That occasionally puts me at odds with “the fandom”, and I find that hard to navigate. In consequence, it has meant that the fandom at large has become a little less important for me. If I want to regain/maintain that initial, joyous feeling of interaction, I have to make my own ‘happy place’. That means that I am no longer trying to embrace the *whole* fandom, but I am quite happy to have settled into a small corner of the (larger) fandom where I interact with like-minded people. My blog is my castle.
Fandom for me is now a place where I can have fun with friends – but the naive, innocent enthusiasm is definitely gone. Panta rhei.