Why has fandom become so toxic?

Originally published at: Why has fandom become so toxic? | Boing Boing

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My brief & limited exposure to fandom I came to the conclusion that extreme fandom folks like to be angry with someone, long drawn out disputes over what seems to be nothing, and are emotional vampires. Take that former room-mates from the distant past.

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Too many people take something they really like, and it becomes inextricably intertwined with their own sense of identity and worth.

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Now where have I seen that behavior recently in US politics?

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Emotional vampires, some of them sure.

Some others, invested to the point where they derive self worth and identity from the fandom. Therefore the friction they cause, and the purity they demand giving them purpose, meaning and ego.

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Jinx; where’s my coke?

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Agreed.
It is like this friction wouldn’t exist in real life, except such friction is now being “harvested and distilled” to gather eyeball views and media attention, where previously these extremists would find there way to the fringes, instead of being prompted onto center stage in the form of a sick and twisted “media event.”

This is much like Christians and “Christians” are utterly destroying Christianity for the rest of us, including the disciples and in the eyes of non-believers.
(Notice how the most vocal “advocates” are the the polar opposite of the examples espoused by their faith.)

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I live on a strange intersection of time where I’m a woman that enjoyed many of pop culture franchises and collected comic books and even made them an object of academic study at university for at least 35 years (and played games before they started being divided by gender) and see toxic nerds loudly claim that women like me don’t exist/don’t know what they are talking about. It’s weird because I was already there when they weren’t even born.

There was A LOT of gatekeeping in the 90s, you had to have an encyclopedic knowledge of whatever you liked to be considered a “true Scotsman” but these younger guys got really radicalized and violent in the 10s. I fear for my daughter. The chance of her receiving targeted abuse just for liking something some people think she shouldn’t makes me shudder.

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seth meyers GIF by Late Night with Seth Meyers

They became the Trumpist foot soldiers along with the various militia groups…

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My take on it is that there have always been haters, but for the most part they could be ignored, once they found themselves online they gravitated towards people who didn’t shun them, other haters.
But none of that is important, and figuring out why is actually a distraction, because they have now been weaponized:

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I was a fan of the Toxic Avenger before it was cool (never was cool)

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The Troma fandom is still pure…

90s tv GIF by absurdnoise

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I love how the nazis came recruiting and they just went “ooooh a new club of people that look just like me, nice!” without even noticing the parallels with the Sith and realizing that making hate your primary drive leads to loneliness and having your ass kicked…

Son, you are the unnamed minion that the Joker kills on a whim, you are no joker.

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Could be… or maybe they just identify with the bad guys and think they are actually heroes…

Baddie GIF by Giphy QA

Plenty of people seem to enjoy the “anti-hero” types and idealize them as cool. I don’t know if you’ve even seen Breaking Bad, but people did that with the main character, Walter White. He goes from bad to worse over the course of the series, makes a series of decisions based on his pride that ultimately hurts his entire family (including getting his own brother in law killed, and yet so many people still see him as the “hero” of the story rather than the villain. It’s a great show, but honestly, I question when anyone sees Walter White as the “hero” when he’s clearly not…

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fandom went from

“hey! we like the same thing!”

to

“hey –– you’re not liking that right”

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This basically happened to a really good friend of mine and I didn’t even realize it until it was too late (largely because we’re not American, but also because we’d drifted apart by that time). The Trump thing is what tipped me off, though.

I think somewhere along the way he got sucked into one fandom or another and ended up in the gamergate crowd.

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My favorite obscure gamer reference to pull on these little turds: “I used to sit and watch Fansy the Bard train sand giants on people outside of Freeport, now be gone, whippersnapper”

(Wait for them to google to figure out wtf I’m talking about)

“Oh.”

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Back when fans randomly met in a comic shop or convention, you could ignore that loud obnoxious guy who had a different opinion, or walk away. Now, you meet them every time you look at a feed about your fandom.
As much as the internet helped all us weirdos find our people, it let all the people who would bully or preach to overrun the space.

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That sucks. I’m sorry…

Lady Gaga Ok GIF

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As a furry who has run into various subfandoms within the fandom, and isn’t into all of those, the brief answer to this that we’ve discovered is this:

People are into it for different reasons than you are. And now, with the internet being so wide, so vast, fandoms can exist with people that are in it for entirely different reasons, and when a large number of those people are put in the same space as another large number of differing people, there are questions about what is and is not on topic/point/etc.

The solution to this is to let the fandom fracture into smaller niches but still retain common goals that the larger group can stand by. This way, you can be part of a fandom AND its subfandoms that mesh with your views of the thing you are a fan of.

Where the toxicity comes is when people try to tell other people how they should be enjoying the product/thing/show/movie/book/etc. And because of scale, they’ll always find people to line up on ANY side of those arguments.

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