It’s never been a better time to be a fan. Geek culture has become mainstream and fan communities have, as a result, been able to grow and connect like never before. As a result it’s very common these days to see people of all ages embrace their favorite fandom and share the things they love. It may be comics or games or a specific intellectual property. From Pokemon to Harry Potter, being a geek has never been so chic.
With the increased exposure comes attention from those vying for our dollar – further expanding on properties or producing collectables or nicknacks for us to enjoy. Genres that might have been overlooked in the past are getting increasing amounts of attention. We’re seeing media that a decade ago would never have been made because the market for it is now clearly visible.
With all that said though, it is important to take the time as individuals to do what we can to help nurture and grow the fan-bases of our favorite things. We can be terribly hard on those who like things we ourselves may not fancy. It’s not uncommon for folks to poke fun of another group or make light of the things they enjoy – be it tabletop games, a certain book, cosplay or a film franchise. At times we can be dismissive even of people within our fandom who simply have a different point of view on the subject matter.
At the end of the day, a negative attitude towards others and what they enjoy (or how they enjoy it) does nothing for ourselves or the fan communities we take part in. Ideally everyone should be able to enjoy their geekdom of choice without fear of criticism. Anything less serves to undermine the geek community as a whole – stifling ideas and discussion and turning people away from the community entirely. At worst, it can erode a fandom to the point that the property itself no longer has enough support to sustain it.
So what can we do to keep the geek community healthy?
Stop Fan Shaming
If you see a person or group enjoying something that you might not be particularly interested in or that you might outright dislike – let them enjoy it anyway. Allow others to have fun. Shaming other fan communities does nothing for us as a whole. If a person feels that sharing their interests might result in them being shamed, they are not likely to make the effort. As a result, fan communities fail to grow or do so only in quiet corners.
Everyone should be allowed to have their fun hobbies and ideally everyone should be allowed to share those hobbies without worry. We know that won’t always happen, but we can certainly do our part to stop fan shaming.
Embrace Diversity Among Fans
This is a catch all for a lot of things. First and foremost, a healthy fan community should accept anyone regardless of age, gender, orientation and the like. No group should feel excluded from enjoying something regardless of what the target demographic might be.
With diversity comes new ideas and new perspectives and being inclusive allows a fan community to grow – generating new discussions and providing the group a stronger voice overall.
Embrace Different Ideas
Even within a single group of fans, there can be very divisive groups and opinions. It’s important to acknowledge that different people will have different perspectives and appreciate things for different reasons. Allowing that diversity to exist and flourish will help maintain and grow the community.
Last but not least, don’t be afraid to share your favorite fandom with others. Not everyone will get the same enjoyment out of it, but good things are often better when shared and doing so will allow more people the chance to appreciate your fandom and help it grow.
Do you have a favorite comic? Let others read it too and leave them to experience and digest it at their own pace. Do you have a favorite film franchise? Host a movie night and get your friend’s opinions. Better yet, encourage others to share their interests with you. You may never know what movie or comic you may be shown that you may not have otherwise found.
Doing our part to help others feel comfortable and lets them be themselves. In turn, we’re more likely to be shown the same respect and allowed to enjoy what we love and feel more comfortable in sharing it. In the end, it will make for better experiences for everyone.