Hello, Wanderers. Sometimes, our friends aren’t fans of the same things we are. And that’s fine; everyone’s different, after all, and it would be boring if we all liked exactly the same thing. But sometimes, you just know that someone would really like something, except that they’ve never seen or heard or read or played it. So how do you introduce them to it? Fear not, Wanderers, for this is the FW Tips section, which means we have some FW Tips for you!
- Don’t push them into it. It may sound counter-intuitive, but there is really nothing that will put someone off of something as quickly and as firmly as constantly being told they’d love it will. Mention it to them, by all means. Offer to show them it. But try not to overdo it; sometimes if there’s too much hype about your fandom it makes people resent it irrationally. I know, this can be difficult if you really love the thing (I’ve certainly been rather enthusiastic about my favourite films in the past, but in my defence it is really good) but try to read the warning signs and stop talking before your friends get too annoyed to investigate.
- Don’t spoil it for them. Unless your friend specifically asks you to tell them what happens in the rest of the episode/series/book/film/play/whatever, don’t do that. Don’t quote lines half a second before characters say them (mouthing along as they do apparently also gets you funny looks, but at least it’s not a spoiler). Some people don’t like surprises, and some people hate to have the ending ruined for them. Let your friend decide which of those rules you’re playing by.
- Start them at the beginning. Exceptions to this rule include games, favourite bands and the Tales of Redwall, because it generally doesn’t matter so much which order you go through those in. But even if your favourite ever episode of a show is the musical episode in series six or the really awesome one in series four, do your friend a favour and start them off with episode one. You can skip around later, but the first episode or book usually establishes far more than you’d think so even if it’s a bit of a wobbly start, it’s better than trying to explain all the in-jokes and backstories and that they don’t all sing all the time.
- Let them feel their own way into it. It might be that they love the first episode and ask to watch more. It might be that they go home and find themselves wondering three weeks later if that character ever got out of their predicament. Don’t try to drag them, kicking and screaming, into the fandom – unless they ask to marathon through your DVDs or borrow the entire series of books, don’t force them to sit through them, or try to show them all the fanfic ever written on the subject. It can be overwhelming and utterly ruin someone’s enjoyment of a fandom, so take it easy and let them set the pace of their eventual obsession.
- If asked, be willing to provide. If you’ve told someone they absolutely have to read this book series you own all of, and you’ve lent them the first instalment, and they want to read the rest, lend them the next one. Yes, it would be nice if they bought it, to support the creator(s), but you can mention that when you lend them it. If they really love it, they may well take that to heart and buy the rest. If not, at least they’re not left in suspense about what happened right after the cliffhanger ending of the previous instalment…
- Accept that they may not like it after all. Sometimes, for no apparent reason, a film just doesn’t click with someone you thought would love it. Sometimes, a book’s just what they’d usually love to read, but they’ve read four just like it in the last two months and the same old thing is getting boring, so they need a break. Sometimes you just misjudge it. If your friend isn’t into your fandom, that’s OK. You can’t make someone love something, and trying will probably just make them like you less. If they’re not interested, leave it alone. You can still enjoy it, after all!
- It’s not all or nothing. Someone can really, really love the thing you’ve just shown them and still not want to create fanworks for it, or join in with the massive meta discussions on online forums. That doesn’t mean they don’t truly love it, or even that they’re not really a fan of it – it just means that they perhaps don’t feel inspired in that way, or have enough crazy fandoms to keep up with already. Don’t take it as a slight on yourself, your passion or your fellow fans. They like it, and that’s a win.
- Be prepared to reciprocate. Perhaps your friend will watch Orphan Black with you if you’ll give Graceland a go. Maybe you introduced someone to Toy Story when it first came out and now they really think you’ll love Brave. Give it a go! It can’t do any harm, after all, and you might get a whole new fandom out of it.
- Enjoy your fandom! With or without your IRL friends, your fandom has the potential to be a great environment for you, full of friends who share your passion. Enjoy it, and don’t get so hung up on who’s not there with you that you miss out on appreciating who is. As ever, the most important tip is to have fun, Wanderers!
Eleanor Musgrove (may be a hypocrite, but she probably won’t shut up about her favourite film any time soon)