It happened very often. When I was in high school, people made fun of me because I was into Harry Potter. Yes, you read it right. I actually carried a handmade wand with me, I had my HP cards and I coloured my notebooks writing “Harry, Ron & Hermione” (don’t judge – we’ve all been there). Apart from calling me “childish”, people also thought that it was “lame” that such a big part of my life was dedicated to something that was not real. How things have changed, huh?
Of course over the years I assumed that that behaviour could be seen as “unhealthy” or “irrational” by most people. That’s why I decided to stop showing my love for those things so publicly. I wasn’t oblivious to my obsession. I knew Harry Potter was a made up story, but that didn’t make it less real. For years I felt misunderstood. I was angry at people, not for not understanding my passion, but for not respecting it. Now that I’m a grown up *laughs*, I feel like I owe it to my past-me to write this article. If this story sounds familiar to you, this goes to you as well.
Who gets to define what’s real?
There are people who are very down to Earth and only worry about what they know is going to happen for sure. They don’t have time for reading novels or going to the movies and, if they do, they only see it as a pastime. On the other hand, there are people who love getting immersed in stories and daydreaming about different scenarios. Both these people are right in the way they choose to enjoy fiction. It’s pretty obvious that everyone has a right to decide just how much they want to enjoy fictional stories.
Talking about what’s real and what’s not would lead us to a philosophical debate. Rather than that, it’s best to decide what’s real to you. Putting another example: drama movies can make us cry. Horror movies can make us scared and even make us having difficulty sleeping. Are those movies real? No. But the sadness and the fear that they evoke are.
Why fictional stories can be so important to some people?
We have previously talked about the importance of fandom in people with social anxiety. Just like fandom is shelter, a fictional story can be a whole new universe where a person is given an alternative point of view, a second life. Fictional stories can offer us new surroundings, new friends, new enemies, new adventures and new opportunities. For people who are sick of the boring routine and doing the same things everyday, a fictional story can be an escape from reality. It offers them a different universe where they don’t have to worry about the consequences of their actions.
Honestly though, who here hasn’t dreamed about hearing the TARDIS sounds outside of their window and going away in an adventure in time and space with the Doctor? Or travelling across the U.S. eating greasy food, sleeping in motels and hunting monsters with Dean and Sam ? Or becoming a pirate and sailing across the Grand Line in search for the One Piece? Or, or, or…? The possibilities are endless!
Other than that, a fictional character is often someone we would like to have in our lives or even someone we would like to be like. After all, the concept of having a fictional character as a role model is nothing new. We all have had that one character who has inspired us and helped us through hard times more than real life people. The characters might be fictional, but the lessons we learn from them are as valuable as any others.
If you’re someone who doesn’t understand fandom and have used this line before, know that this argument is pointles because that person already knows the characters and their stories aren’t real (we cry about it every now and then). And if you’re a fan who has ever felt upset by those commentaries, know that you’re not alone in fandom and that YOU are the only one who gets to decide what matters and how much it matters to you.
What about you? Have your friends or family ever used this argument against you? How did you reply? Share your stories with us! 🙂