A while ago, I tweeted a link to a survey about fandom. Mainly I asked people why they are fans of a certain person or series; how much time they spend every day being actively involved in this fandom, and what they get out of it. To most people who are not familiar with fandoms, it can seem like a strange thing. Why in the world would you spend so much time idolising something or someone? I mean, isn’t that for people who have no sense of individuality?
I used to spend much more time being an active fan than I do now. There comes a point in life when you are expected to be responsible, and then it is not appreciated when you are on twitter gushing about your idol. However, when I remember teenage me, it wasn’t about idolising someone that made it so special to be a fan. I didn’t idolise anyone in the sense that I wanted to be like them or that I wanted to marry them. Their music was great, I liked them as a person (or at least the person I thought they were based on interviews).
I was never a collector-type, so I only bought the merchandise I really liked. However, I did spend ages online on forums, chatting to other fans as much as I could. They were going through the same thing as I was. They understood me, like my family and real-life friends did not understand me. Whenever I would mention my favourite artist, my family members would sigh in despair and tell me my obsession was getting out of hand. My internet friends would join in discussions with me and we would be excited together about new releases or interviews.
Fandoms give a sense of community
And that was something a lot of people who answered the survey said as well. The reason they spend so much time in fandoms is because of the sense of community. And as with every group of people, there are people you dislike or wish you had never known. But mostly it is a positive way to find like-minded people and forge friendships that go beyond twitter. I’ve met some of my closest friends through forums and we meet up even when our favourite artist isn’t even touring.
People who have never experienced that don’t know what it feels like and it is easy to judge what you don’t know. Yes, some fans can be quite hysterical, but you have to look beyond that to see the good things about fandoms. And well, if a fan wants to sit outside a venue for ages, then why not? They don’t hurt you by doing it and it makes them happy. Live and let live.
Fandoms give you a chance to escape real life
As I mentioned in my article on why people go see their favourite artist a million times, I guess being part of a fandom is also a form of escapism. That is another part of you, another part of your world and mostly it is a fun one. It is a way for us not to drown into the misery that our real life brings us. Escapism is a good thing, to a certain extent. Because you must never forget to maintain a certain sense of reality. Emerge yourself in your fandom world but make sure all the real-life stuff is dealt with as well.
Many fans mentioned that their favourite artists saved them and helped them through hard times. Once again, that sounds dramatic to those who have never felt the same way, but I know that music especially can help you get through tough times. Whenever I am sad, it helps to sing along to my favourite songs at the top of my voice. It helps to dance around my room or watch a funny interview with the artist I like. And sometimes when you are sad you listen to a sad song and cry and it will make you feel better.
Don’t judge fans
What many fans stated and what I know as well is that it is important to identify with an artist in some way. Sometimes it’s their stories which appeal to us because we’ve been through similar things. Other times we can see ourselves in their personalities. Sometimes it’s just because your favourite artist loves pizza as much as you do. And then when you have identified with your favourite artist, you find people who also identified with the artist and you realise that these are your people and magic happens. And when magic happens, happiness happens.
So next time, you non-fan person, you see someone spend hours on twitter gushing about a singer: then don’t judge them. Realise that being a fan is part of someone’s identity. It’s not a matter of not having a personality of your own. It is a way to learn from others and to grow. And if I speak for myself, many of my best memories are from the moments I spent with other fans.
What are your best memories of being part of a fandom?