Today I just wanted to share something I was thinking about yesterday: fandom.
Fandom (consisting of fan [fanatic] plus the suffix -dom, as in kingdom, freedom, etc.) is a term used to refer to a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of sympathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest. Fans typically are interested in even minor details of the object(s) of their fandom and spend a significant portion of their time and energy involved with their interest, often as a part of a social network with particular practices (a fandom); this is what differentiates “fannish” (fandom-affiliated) fans from those with only a casual interest.
A fandom can grow up centered around any area of human interest or activity. The subject of fan interest can be narrowly defined, focused on something like an individual celebrity, or more widely defined, encompassing entire hobbies, genres or fashions. While it is now used to apply to groups of people fascinated with any subject, the term has its roots in those with an enthusiastic appreciation for sports. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary traces the usage of the term back as far as 1903.
Fandom as a term can also be used in a broad sense to refer to the interconnected social networks of individual fandoms, many of which overlap.
The entire thought stream started with this Facebook post:
Aside from this being a hilarious bit of dialogue, it really got me thinking, are all fans prone to such obnoxious behavior? My comment was, yes. But I’m not sure that is the case.
Fans of anything are just an odd group. I know, I’m a fan of a few things and I find myself being a bit obsessive and pretty obnoxious at times. We focus on the smallest detail, get wrapped up in releases or events or merch, and we seem to let our “interest” permeate other aspects of our lives. We all like to think we were the very first living soul to discover a band, author, place, etc. But sometimes this fandom shapes our lives in ways that are so positive that any negativity is obliterated.
A good example for me is 311. This is by far my favorite band. And I’m not alone. Last year while gearing up the for the 311 Cruise I took this March with my BFF Kasi, I found a few 311 fan pages: The 311 Familia & The Excitable Ones (plus several other smaller spin off groups). It was such an overwhelming find. 1. I had no idea there were others out there who were as into the band I am (silly, I know). 2. So many of these people are WAY more knowledgeable about everything 311 than I am. 3. It is a place where your obsession feels completely normal. In fact, there are many who are way more obsessive, so relax dude. PLUR.
This was my first brush with being involved with a true fandom online. It was wonderful. So many cool stories and interesting posts. So much random 311 knowledge. So may pictures of 311 occurrences in daily life (finding the numbers 311 in random spots: writing, cars, sidewalks, etc.). It was also a bit intimidating. Every once in a while there would be a post that would just crush my little fan spirit. I haven’t been to NEARLY as many shows as a lot of these guys. I don’t know every lyrics to every single song. Nope, I don’t remember the set list to that show they played back in ’95.
Luckily, my participation in the groups leveled out a bit when the newness wore off. And I realized that this is a wonderful addition to the piece of my life puzzle that is music. We’re a positive group. We’re more than fans. We support each other. We gather in real life. I’ve met some really rad folks through these groups. And I get why we all feel the need to gather into these fan groups. It’s all about belonging. And it’s about finding others to share that excitement with that “get it”. It’s about UNITY. I suppose I’m just lucky that my fandom rarely is about the things that Aaron mentioned in his post yesterday.
So thanks Familia! We are truly the Excitable Ones!
In the words of 311:
“I’ve got a clique, but it’s more like a family.”
Meeting 311 for the 1st time in 2012 (with Kasi).
With Kasi on the 311 Cruise this year.
Stay positive & love your life!
Listening to: 311 – Jackolantern’s Weather
Eating: Left over ravioli again.
Random fact: I found one of my other favorite bands, Full Service, through 311! Here they are at a show they played at MY HOUSE! So rad….
Me & Bonesaw