Wanderers, it’s been a while, but I’m so glad to be back. In my time away, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on what fandom actually means to me, and the impact it has on my day-to-day life. For me, as for many, fandom has been a way of connecting with new people, but lately it’s been a way to connect more deeply with people I’m already close to.
I can hear the Editor shouting at me to crack on with the article, so I’ll cut to the chase. What on earth do I mean by ‘connecting with those you’re closest to’? I’m going to have to use a personal example. A friend of mine – someone I’ve worked with for a few years – knows I’m a big Supernatural fan. He’s not all that fussed, but he’s a big fan of a similar show, Grimm. He recommended I watch it, and in doing so, and in sharing that experience with him, I have become much closer to him. The act of sharing something we feel passionate about has always been a way humans use to form close emotional bonds to others, and fandom – so far as my experience allows me to generalise – is an extension of that.
Here we have talked many times about the ways in which fandom brings people together regardless of differences and distance, but personally I had never considered the effects of fandom closer to home, despite that being where the majority of us experience it on a day-to-day basis. So why does the sharing of passion and enthusiasm bring us closer to people? I can’t help but feel, Wanderers, that the things we are passionate about reveals some of the most hidden truths about us, and sharing those with someone – someone who already knows us, but is maybe missing a part of the puzzle of what makes us who we are – helps them to know us on a deeper level, to form a stronger bond with them. In a similar way, being introduced to a new show or fandom by someone you already know brings with it a certain level of security; you trust that they know you enough to be aware of any potential triggers or uncomfortable topics, and that they will direct you towards positive media which will enhance your experience rather than have a detrimental effect.
In allowing someone to introduce us to something new, in sharing that with them, and being a part of their experience as well as them being a part of theirs, you add a whole new level into your relationship with that person. It allows you to recognise certain similarities between your two disparate existences and forge strong links between your existence and theirs (I can almost hear the Editor rolling her eyes).
I would always recommend sharing something you’re passionate about with someone you already know. I would always recommend not only sharing the fandom experience with them, but the experience of viewing or participating in the media – it brings a different aspect into your relationship, not just with them, but with the media you’re reflecting on. Being able to share fandom with someone you can cry and laugh with, cling onto when something makes you jump, roll your eyes at when you encounter overworked clichés is something entirely different to doing those things online, and the physicality makes the viewing experience even more vivid.
So, Wanderers. Next time you come across something you think someone might like, take the plunge and ask them to hang out and watch it with you. You never know, you might find a whole new side to them.
Hannah Carter (really must say thank you…)