Over my many years as a fangirl, I have been through all types of fandom: small fandoms, big fandoms; fandoms about music bands, fandoms about TV shows; fandoms in which I had a lot of friends, fandoms in which I was ignored… But, no matter what, all these fandoms had something in common: drama.
Drama in fandom, also known as “fandom wank” (not to be confused with the Journalfen website), comes in many forms: ship wars, anon hate, RPF creepiness, disagreements… Sometimes it originates within the fandom, and sometimes it comes from canon material. Whether you’re one of the fans partaking in the drama or just a passive spectator, one thing is for sure: pointless drama is annoying and counterproductive. Note here that I’m not talking about all discussions and arguments in fandom. Some debates are constructive and help making fandom a better, richer place. But I guess you all know what I mean by ‘drama’: the unnecessary arguments often started by bored disrespectful people and that usually lead to nowhere.
Just like many other things in life, years of experience allow us to understand what the best course of action for every situation is. Fandom coexistence is no exception. If you’re new to being in a fandom, or if you’re still struggling to refrain from participating in certain problematic conversations, here’s a guide to enjoying fandom without drama.
1. STOP CARING SO MUCH
This advice is not only useful for the matter in hand, but for life in general. Two people are fighting over their ships? Their problem, not yours. You like a very obscure ship that has no chance of becoming canon? Your problem, not theirs. At the end of the day, fandom is about enjoyment. If you don’t like conflict, you’re better off minding your own business and not caring about what other might think of your preferences. Yes, the Internet has allowed for us to join communities to talk about the things that we love, but you mustn’t forget that you’re in fandom because you want to have a fun, positive experience. Sometimes, just having your own corner of the Internet to yourself is more than enough.
2. BE TOLERANT OF OTHERS
I’m sure you wouldn’t like it if someone were to blow holes in your ship or tell you off for loving something unconventional, right? Then you should treat the others in that same way. Especially in big fandoms, a big group of people will guarantee a wide variety of opinions. It’s impossible to agree with everyone, but it is possible to get along with everyone. Someone’s favourite character is the baddest villain ever? I’m sorry, but that still doesn’t give you a free pass to call them a bad person for loving a problematic character. We all have our reasons and we all deserve to express our opinion. And, if you can’t really stand to see that particular ship or whatever, TumblrSavior can be your best friend in that respect.
3. THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK
Take a deep breath. Count to 10. Go for a run. There are many things you can do to calm yourself before starting an argument that you might regret later. Here’s the thing: you don’t have to fight every person who holds a different opinion from yours. Pointing out to someone that they’re wrong about something with the best of intentions is OK, but you have to consider that, while many times this might lead to an interesting debate, other times it could start a ship war. No one needs that, right? Each to his own.
4. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO SHARE YOUR INTERESTS
Not everyone in your fandom is a potential friend. Even though you might like the same thing with the same passion, you might have completely different points of view about many things. This is one of the first things you should understand when entering a fandom. After all, it’s not possible to like everyone or to be liked by everyone. Don’t worry, though, I’m sure there are many people out there in your fandom who are just like you. You ship X pairing? Go to that pairing’s tag and start talking with other people there. Interacting with nice, accepting, open-minded people and staying away from problematic, wanky fans is one of the first steps towards a peaceful fandom experience.
5. DON’T FEED THE TROLL
Unfortunately, not everyone has good intentions on the Internet. Some people just like watching the
world fandom burn. Even though “don’t feed the troll” is a concept that originated on forums in which people would create new accounts to start problematic threads and generally get negative reactions from people, this is also a concept that applies to Tumblr. Specifically, Tumblr anons. If you get an anon who is just sending hate or clearly saying something problematic just to get a negative reaction from you and start a big argument, ignore it.