Being a part of a fandom is truly something I’ve never known how to explain to people I know outside of the online environment since it’s literally an immersive experience that many of us who interact online just understand without words. We know what it’s like to see the way things play out on twitter, tumblr or whatever social media site you choose to be a part of. We know how you can connect with people you’ve never met in person, but feel so close to, simply because you talk to them every day and relate to them, as if they lived within five minutes instead of 500 miles from you. Yet in the years I’ve chosen to become a part of fandom, I’ve seen the good and bad sides of being a part of many people’s lives even if it’s only by following their twitter account or following a blog on tumblr.
What I truly wish to convey though is that as much nastiness and terrible behavior as there is (and that I’ve seen many people complain about over and over again), the fact of the matter is that if you’re seeing it out there then that’s the kind of experience and section of fandom you’re allowing yourself to be a part of. No matter how angry we get and how frustrated we are over how rude and frankly at times inhumane, people act online, those who choose to live their lives that way will always be unhappy. Don’t let them take your joys away from you too. You have a choice, you always do.
If you make the right choice you can have a fandom community filled with people who you genuinely like talking to even if you have different opinions.
That doesn’t mean either is wrong what’s important is the common ground of enjoying what fictional stories give back to us. This plainly speaking is the ability to relate our struggles, hopes, dreams to what we see on screen and to help us find a smile even if it’s from a friend you happen to meet on Twitter because you both love the same shows. While it may seem strange to others it doesn’t diminish the friendship at all it’s very real and not something to be ashamed of or hide like the stigma this kind of community had for so long.
Most importantly and what I have learned the hard way by being in the Once Upon a Time online fandom for years now, is that I always had control over the environment I was in. For a long time, it felt like I was always subjected to the whims of how crazy things could get, and I wouldn’t unfollow anyone simply because I felt bad at that action alone, knowing how much it can hurt people. At the end of the day however, I realized that by doing that I was only causing more frustration and anger for myself. Real life is hard enough, and I wanted my fandom experience to be a good one that I could open at the end of a long work day and find happiness in and if that means being picky about who I interact with and unfollowing people en masse so be it.
To everyone who reads this, please know that no matter how insane your life may be, when it comes to online fandom it can be an amazing experience, where you get to meet people from all over the world, people who love the same stories you do no matter what medium they are in, become their friend and that you can share your enthusiasm unabashedly and in complete freedom with them. Go find your happy place guys YOU DESERVE IT!