“You should get over that fandom stuff, aren’t you too old for this? Why don’t you live your own life instead of caring so much about some stranger’s?”
This is only one of the many accusing phrases people throw at you when you’re a “fangirl” or “fanboy”, and to be fair, most of them just want the best for you, but that doesn’t change anything about the fact that it can be very tiring to have to defend yourself for enjoying something other people don’t understand on a daily basis.
Don’t get me wrong, I do see where they’re coming from and agree that fandoms can have quite fatal negative effects on young people if they get so lost in fictional worlds that they completely neglect reality, but why paint them black completely when there are also so many ways in which they can enrich people’s lives?
I can understand why the whole concept of fandoms can seem a bit disconcerting to someone who’s never engaged with them themselves, which is why, in this post, I would like to share with you what they mean to me and why they are possibly one of the best things that ever happened to me and many others.
Fandoms as a stress relief
Whenever I’m having a particularly exhausting day, I find fandoms to be the perfect way to wind down and forget the troubles of the day for a bit. Listening to my favourite band’s music, watching the newest videos of the youtubers I like or getting lost in a new book can be extremely relaxing and comforting and works brilliantly if, once in a while, you need a little escape from this world.
Fandoms encourage creativity
If you have a closer look at fan communities, one of the first things you will notice is how unbelievably creative their members are: even in the smallest fandoms, there’s people creating fan art by drawing, painting or making edits and writers who come up with often extremely well written stories, poems or even fan fictions as long as books.
By sharing their work with the community, artists can get feedback on their work, and since most fandoms are generally very supportive, be encouraged to keep doing what they’re doing and make use of the talent they have.
People are passionate about fandoms
To me, having something to be passionate about is one of the most important things in life, and I personally don’t think it matters whether that thing is sports, political activism, science, gardening or fandoms. In between school, university or work, it’s crucial to have a sort of equaliser, something you are truly excited about, and for many people, fandoms are just that.
Celebrities can be great role models
Of course, we all know that not every celebrity is a very good example for young people and that blindly believing everything your idols say and trying to imitate whatever they do is definitely not healthy. However, there are lots and lots of prominent figures who can be great role models and offer guidance to young people, especially in their teenage years when they start to move apart from their parents a bit more.
Additionally, influential celebrities like Beyonce, Emma Watson, or Tyler Oakley often spread awareness about important social issues such as poverty, racism, homophobia, sexism and misogyny and encourage their fans to educate themselves on these topics, get involved in fighting inequality and stand up for what they think is right.
Having an idol to look up to can be a great motivation for young people to keep working on achieving their goals and not giving up on their dreams, even if things might not go as planned the first time around.
Of course, someone who wants to be an actor shouldn’t necessarily expect to become the next Leonardo DiCaprio, and it’s very important to keep your ambitions realistic, but idols can often embolden young people to do what they think is right for THEM instead of, for example, studying something they don’t really care about just because their parents tell them to do so and it seems like a safer option than doing what they’re actually interested in.
Fandoms help you make friends
This, for me, is actually the most amazing part of being part of a fandom. Thanks to the internet and platforms like tumblr and twitter, you can easily find people with the same interests as you and have the opportunity to share your love for something with people from all over the world while getting to know them and finding out more about them and their culture.
Even though internet friends can’t really replace having people to talk to in real life, being in a fan community can make teenagers feel more accepted and less insecure; and having completely unbiased people to share your problems with and ask for advice can often be of great help.
Connecting through fandoms doesn’t only work online though: Especially for people who struggle with meeting new people or often feel anxious in social situations, finding someone who is in the same fan community is probably the best thing that could possibly happen, because you immediately have a shared interest and don’t have to worry about what to talk about.
Are you part of any fan communities and if so, how have they impacted your life? Let me know in the comments! x