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Fandom, Choices & a New Year

My social media is filled these days with comments about how toxic fandom has become. I read posts that, while criticizing the fans that are negative, come dangerously close to being negative themselves and, therefore, hypocritical. The funny thing is, I haven’t seen a single post that someone else claims is so toxic. Why is that?

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I have a choice about what I read on Facebook or whom I follow on Twitter… right? Who are my “friends?” Are they people I actually know and that I chose to follow, or are they anonymous names, sometimes not real, that randomly send a request to connect one day? There’s a difference between real life friends and "Facebook friends" and I've alway been selective about whom I accept as a Facebook friend.

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Let’s assume these toxic posts are out there, though, and I’ve managed to miraculously avoid them.

What is the real quantity of these negative posts? The squeaky wheel gets the grease and a few loud voices are sometimes mistakenly used to represent a majority. Sticking with clichés, if a tree falls in the forest, does anyone hear it? If I ignore it, is it really there? I control the gateway through which information flows, letting it enter my consciousness or not.

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If I read a toxic post, what is the author's motive? Do the comments come from a place of love or hate? How do I even know? For me, social media posts are like email; I can’t always determine the tone. Are these people really fans, or are they trouble makers trying to rile the fans? Do I read just a headline or an entire post? Maybe a post is simply click-bait, taunting me with a few controversial words so I click to read more. I always consider the source and the context.

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In this day and age, everyone’s a critic. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and it's easier than ever to express it, but it's harder than ever to stand out. Is anyone using outrageous words to simply draw attention to themselves? If there's an honest opinion contained within, I’m loath to censor it, lest someone censor mine. I exercise my choice, not only about what posts to read, but about how much power I give them to disrupt my life.

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Disagreements can produce healthy, productive discussions. Life would be dull if everyone agreed on everything. Luckily, I don't know of any group in which all its members agree on everything. There's nothing wrong with someone who appreciates something I don't, or doesn't appreciate something I do. While I won't hesitate to contribute my thoughts and feelings about the subject of discussion, I hope I never shut down their freedom of expression with personal attacks.


Wikipedia defines “fandom” it as “a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of empathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest. Fans typically are interested in even minor details of the object(s) of their fandom and spend a significant portion of their time and energy involved with their interest.” What better forum for fandom than social media! The potential to connect fandom is a wondrous thing.

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It's about inclusion, not exclusion. If one of my fandoms experiences the negative, that's part of it, just like the positive. If I exclude an opinion because it's different, it weakens the fandom. I never want to claim someone is not a fan just because he or she disagrees with me. Someone can be a fan of Star Wars and also think that The Rise of Skywalker was just OK. That doesn't mean this person isn't a fan or doesn't belong in the overall fandom.

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My responsibility is just like it is with anything else... I can't control what someone else says or does, but I can control what I say or do. I can control how I react and respond. Like many others, I feel like there's currently a societal culture of hate filtering from the very top, all the way down, but I can choose to focus on the good things. My goal for 2020 is to drive through it on a highway of positivity, acknowledging the tourist traps of negativity outside, but not stopping to visit them.

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