When Fandoms Attack

This past week has been, well, let’s be honest. It’s been hell. I’ve watched not one, but two fandoms turn on themselves. They’ve attacked on producers, writers, and actors. When that wasn’t enough, they turned on each other. People who have a common interest have been more interested in abusing each other and tearing down what brought them together in the first place.

It’s a funny thing about digital communities and social networking. It’s all so anonymous. There is no guarantee that any of us are who we say we are. That anonymity can be very freeing, allowing us to interact with people or say things we might not otherwise. It can make even the meekest of people the bravest person on the planet. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I know it’s pushed me out of my comfort zone. As recently as two years ago, I never would have considered writing fan fiction or a blog. Now, I do and enjoy both. I’ve happily gone from a lurker to an active participant.

Unfortunately, there is a downside to that anonymity, that freedom. In some people it seems to be the permission they need to turn off their inner filter. I was raised to believe that there are just some things that you don’t say. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for freedom of speech. I just think it’s possible to speak without being abusive.

This week, it has seemed as though anyone with a differing opinion has been treated like fresh meat in a pool of piranha. The attacks have been swift and brutal. I’m sure the people attached to the shows, the actors, writers, producers, have brushed off these attacks without a second thought. They have placed themselves in a position of being on the receiving end of negativity as well as the adoration that comes with celebrity. It doesn’t make it right. Sadly, it is just part of the job.

I’m more concerned for the average fan, especially the ones who still enjoy the show and are attacked and ridiculed for admitting it. It sickens me to see the lengths that some people will go to all in the name of being a ‘good fan.’ I long for the days when we could all get along, when our fandoms were almost like Nirvana, placed where we could happily coexist. Instead, what I have witnessed this week could be better described as hell on earth for those being attacked, for those not getting onboard with the mob mentality.

In light of the atmosphere surrounding two of my favorite fandoms, I have reverted to my lurker status. I’ve unfollowed a few, muted a few and mostly just kept to myself. I’m back to being a fandom of one. For the most part, I’m okay with that. I resent that I don’t feel as if I can be free with my opinions, because honestly, I’m mad, too. I would like to commiserate with those that share my opinion. I’m just not willing to attack everyone else along the way. So, I’ll just sit on the sidelines, waiting for things to calm down before I wade back in. I’ll stick to expressing myself in the ways I’m most comfortable with – a little fan fiction here, a little blogging there. I’ll play it safe, because when this drama passes (and it will) and the rabid fans have moved on to the next crisis, those of us on the sidelines will be ready to take the field again.