If you are reading this post, chances are that you are in a fandom, or have even been in more than one fandom. We have already talked about how there are different types of fandoms, but there are also different sizes. Over my years as a fangirl, I have been in small fandoms where I knew everyone, and also in big fandoms where the amount of fanfiction was overwhelming. Which one is best? Here are the pros and cons of being in small or big fandoms!
Small Fandoms VS. Big Fandoms
Some examples that come to mind from personal experience: Harry Potter, Supernatural, Attack on Titan.
At first, being in a big fandom might seem like the best choice. The bigger, the better, right? There are certainly a lot of pros to being in a big fandom:
- So many fanworks!! Everyday when you wake up there’s hundreds of new fanfics, fan arts and fanvids. It seems like there’s ALWAYS something to read/watch and discuss. It’s impossible to be bored!
- You love a minor character or a minor pairing? No problem! Chances are that there will be someone who loves them as passionately as you do (and even write fanfic about it!)
- The fandom is ALWAYS active. With so many people from all over the world and from all time zones, there are always discussions going on and speculation/meta analysis being posted. Furthermore, big fandoms constantly have special fanworks weeks, challenges and Big Bangs.
Bigger fandoms are definitely more active and productive, but there are also some downsides to them. For one, say goodbye to productivity. It’s very easy to procrastinate on your studies/work when there’s always something going on in your fandom, be it a new chapter update or a controversial discussion on your OTP. This can be fixed with some discipline, but there are other things in big fandoms that are harder to avoid. You know what I’m talking about, right?
The more people there are in a fandom, the more likely it is that there will be individuals who enjoy starting arguments for no reason or, even worse, sending (anon) hate. Sure, not everyone can agree on something, but the problem comes when fans start disrespecting each other and trying to push their ideas on others. Some fans might even start a fight over the tiniest headcanon disagreement! Mix disagreements with shipping and you’ve got ship wars.
Something that I have learned is that big fandoms also often come accompanied with an some sort of intrinsic hierarchy, something that is fed with how Tumblr works: there are fans with thousands of followers with their inbox full of messages, and fans who barely have any followers and struggle to catch other people’s attentions. A fandom is a community, but it’s a fact that it’s harder to get noticed and make friends in big fandoms. It gets even harder when you’re a newbie and are somewhat lost when it comes to memes, headcanons or inner jokes.
Some examples that come to mind from personal experience: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Noragami or even a sports team.
If you’re tired of the drama that too often accompanies big fandoms, joining a smaller fandom might seem like a breath of fresh air at first. And it is. Small fandoms have a lot of pros:
- While I think of big fandoms as communities, I always choose the term “family” for small fandoms. Since there’s not many people in it, it’s easier to make yourself a place. Other fans will know you as “the one who draws”, “the one with the excellent sense of humor” or “the one who writes the fluffiest fanfic”. The best friends I’ve made in fandom come from small fandoms.
- There’s barely any fights and everyone is more understanding. Since there’s not a lot of people, people are more reluctant when starting arguments. Instead of that, they are more likely to express their point of view in a respectful matter and create healthy debates, rather than making enemies for no reason.
- You appreciate the smallest things. Something like a fan sharing a cute headcanon might inspire fanart, fanfic and memes. It’s cute. Even if that’s the only thing that has happened in fandom that day, you’ll still appreciate it a lot.
As per the cons, you can already guess them: lack of fanworks. Instead of checking for new fanfics daily, you might be doing it weekly, and you’ll be lucky if there’s anything that actually interests you. Also, good luck shipping something that is not canon or not popular in the fandom. You might be the only one shipping it or the only one willing to create something dedicated to it.
Similarly, small fandoms are not as active. You might find yourself often refreshing Tumblr, Twitter and other pages for new content on the thing you love for hours. And, with lack of fanworks, it can get boring very quickly.