“He’s been lost ever since he left his home. He should not have come, he has no place among us.” ~Thorin Oakenshield
That’s what it feels like to be a newer fan in an already established fandom, doesn’t it? Or a new commenter on a blog, fan-forum, or twitter thread. You’ve been reading the posts for a few months, even following along in the comments. You’ve laughed, nodded your head; and often followed the suggestions given of things to view, read, etc. in relation to your shared interest.
So many times you’ve wanted to jump in and add your agreement with an “I feel the same! I thought that too!” or sometimes you’re just bursting at the seams, wanting to defend your favorite character in a discussion….but you don’t. What if they laugh you off the webpage for not being informed enough about the subject? What if they make fun of the way you talk?
Or what if they don’t respond to you at all ? “I knew this was a bad idea! They all know each other, they all know so much more about the history of this than I do, I don’t know what I’m doing!“
“Did I not say that you would be a burden, that you would not survive in the wild and that you have no place amongst us?” ~ Thorin Oakenshield
We’ve all been there. Some of us longer than others, some of us more than once.
KellyDS (@akakelbel75) April 10, 2013
That was my first twitter contact within the RA fandom, back in April. I couldn’t let MorrighansMuse think she was the only one who liked Sparkhouse, when the others were saying they’d heard horrible things about it; sweet John Standring was worth defending!
My first contact within the fandom itself was on the forums: my required introductory posts announcing myself. There are usually a few friendly folks on any forum who say Hello, ask what films you’ve seen, and give suggestions on what to watch next. This was an area I tried to became diligent in myself when I was a moderator in a different fandom. The intro threads were a safe place for newbies to fangirl a bit and maybe ask a few questions to someone who cared, without risking the embarrassment of posting in the wrong place or asking a question that everyone already knew the answer to.
We don’t have this safety net on blogs. Here, you’re out in the open for everyone to see. Here, there tends to be a bunch of random comments in no particular order to reply to. That’s scary for a first time commenter!
The above examples are meant as a reminder and validation that this happens to everyone. Maybe you’ve long since moved past that stage and you’re now commenting, tweeting, and posting with abandon. Maybe you’ve been lurking
(that means following along in silence)
for a few days, a few weeks, or a few months. Maybe you’re still at the timid stage described above, and maybe you have no intention of ever engaging at all; that’s okay. Lurking is perfectly acceptable. Just enjoy yourself, that’s what’s important.
A lot of these same stages and worries plague bloggers too. Unfortunately, the statistics page can sometimes hinder the situation. “That blogger has 10,000 hits, I only have 5,000. Do people not like me? I only have 10 followers, while they have 300! What am I doing wrong? No one commented on this post, but 30 commented yesterday. Was it too boring?”
We’ve all thought these things at one time or another.
I suggest routinely asking yourself this simple but important question: Why do I have a blog?
To have fun. To share your love of a certain subject with like-minded people who will gush with you about it. To help others find all the info they can on a shared subject. Or maybe it’s a more personal blog where the purpose is to better yourself in various ways through writing it all down and receiving suggestions from others that you may have never considered before. There are various reasons why someone may have a blog.
Hopefully the answer to that question is not: To be the best. To be the most liked. To be the leader.
Those reasons would be unhealthy, in my opinion, and just suck the fun straight out of it. So with that in mind, maybe we shouldn’t give those statistics quite so much weight…
If you’re a blogger who is trying to make a name for yourself on a professional level or you’re trying to make money using your blog, then disregard that last bit. I’m talking about fandom, not business.
An example of how stats can be deceiving: a big portion of that “follower” number over there in my sidebar is made up of bloggers who are not Richard Armitage related. They’re either networking (I’ve checked them out, and actually follow some) or they are professional bloggers who want me to buy something. Don’t put your faith in numbers.
“I like the fact that there’s a community out there getting together and enjoying themselves because of something I’ve done.”
~ Richard Armitage
The community aspect of fandom can be a very rewarding experience. Friendships are formed, both virtual and real life, encouragement and support are offered when needed, sounding boards to discuss new ideas are provided; these can all stem from talking about a beloved character, book, actor, or band.
There is discord in every community though. It is essentially a small town, after all. So you will hear gossip when you stop into the Post Office to pick up your mail. There might be arguments about how you were over-charged at the gas station because you used to date the owner’s son’s best friend. Maybe your cousin’s girlfriend never tips you and runs up his bar tab…that doesn’t mean you should spit in her food and slash her car tires.
Hopefully the only drama that will touch you is from your Saturday morning coffee date with friends that sometimes gets heated when you debate sugar vs. artificial sweetener, or gluten-free diets. This is normal.
Just as in regular life though, you are responsible for your own actions, Your own words, your own issues.
If you don’t want to know the gossip, don’t linger when you pick up your mail. If you feel you’re being treated unfairly at the gas station, go to a different one instead. If your cousin’s girlfriend irritates you so much, go into the kitchen and throw a few eggs at the wall after she leaves!
And remind yourself during those sugar/gluten debates that these people are your friends. You meet them every Saturday because, aside from your dietary differences, you enjoy their company.
Now before I wrap up this little missive, I’d like to touch upon something that can become a stressful part of fandom, when it really doesn’t have to be. This may seem like a no-brainer, but really stop and give it some thought:
Richard Armitage is not our puppet.
He is a living, breathing human being. A grown man who lives his own life and makes his own decisions… so relax, and let Richard take care of Richard.
You’re all shaking your heads in the affirmative, saying “Yes, we know this. We have nothing but respect for him and we’ll support him in what ever he chooses to do.”
Then let’s get off his proverbial back about his upcoming projects, okay? This fear for his career does not need to consume us. The responsibility of providing us with conversation topics and visual stimulation should not rest on anyone’s shoulders but our own. That’s not to say we can’t speculate about what will come next or what we would/would not want to see. But it will happen when it happens.
Let him surprise us
It is his life, his career, his financial and emotional stability. While it’s only our hobby…and that’s my two cents. peace out,