I Don’t Do Fan Clubs

I’m not really very good at promoting my blog, but I do occasionally post links if I’m particularly pleased with something, or if I think a specific person or group might find it interesting.  Occasionally I get an invitation to join a fan club, fan group, or a fan forum in response.  Well, I don’t do fan groups anymore, and here’s why.

When I got my first computer with internet access, back in 1999, I had just discovered actor Ioan Gruffudd.  I spent hours in fan chat rooms with various ladies in the US and the UK.  It was really fun, and these online discussions eventually led to real meetings with several people both locally and in London.  Then it was actor Hugh Jackman, only for him I met other fans in New York.  Then it was a stage actor from London.  For each one, something similar would happen.

First I would meet people who shared my interest after we’d chatted online.  I had about a 50/50 success rate.  Roughly half the people I’d meet from online were nice and normal—or should I say, about as normal as me, which may not be saying much.  The other half were just odd.  Sometimes it was something scary and intense in their eyes, sometimes it was just general social awkwardness.  Most often, what turned me off was a kind of hyper-competitiveness over their obsession.  They conveyed the attitude, “I accept you as a fellow fan, but I am and will always be a bigger fan than you.  My interest, affection and devotion are greater than yours.”  I began to learn how to spot this kind of person through clues in their online interactions, but I’ve never become an expert.  In my online groups, I would try to avoid these people and just stick with the people I genuinely liked, but that’s where the group dynamic became tricky.

It’s really hard to avoid people when they’re members of an online community.  And, there’s something that happens with groups online, when people are able to post their thoughts without face-to-face social restraints.   Sometimes things just get really silly.  I left the Ioan Gruffudd fan group when we ran out of his work to dissect, and the discussion devolved into “If Ioan was ice cream, what flavor would he be?”  Worse, people get nasty.  Often, it’s a failure to be welcoming to new members combined with an attitude of superiority because one has been a fan for much longer.  It’s that hyper-competitiveness rearing its ugly head.  There’s also usually a person or a couple of people who become dominant, and soon anyone who disagrees with these leaders gets pushed out.  What usually happens to me is a growing sense of being boxed in, where I become reluctant to express my real opinions.

My preference now is to find several like-minded fellow fans and connect through one-on-one interactions.  I don’t consciously seek them out, because that kind of deliberateness is creepy!  It just happens naturally.   After some back and forth in public forums, we then communicate privately, where we can be more honest.   I’ve met some wonderful people on YouTube, facebook fan pages, twitter, and through my blog.  It starts with a mutual interest in a particular actor, but the fans who become friends share more in common with me, whether it’s other interests or a similar sense of humor.  I’m lucky to know these people.  And grateful.

So, that’s why I’m not a joiner.  What about you?  I hope you share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section.

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Katelyn on November 10, 2011 at 7:52 am

    I once met someone on a fan board and now I can’t seem to get rid of her.

    I think fan groups are a good way for people with similar interests to connect, but sometimes it seems like they can cause more problems rather than creating friendships. That whole “I’m a bigger fan than you” attitude seems to appear a lot (and I’m guilty of that myself at times, I admit). I have to be really passionate about something before I’m willing to discuss it with strangers, but fan groups can come in handy when I’m boring everyone in my real life to tears with my talk.

    Reply

    • Yeah, she’s not going to stop pestering you, either.

      You make a good point. Like you, I know all about driving the people around me crazy with my obsessions. The co-worker who doesn’t want to hear what your favorite actor just tweeted is probably thrilled when you find somewhere else to express yourself. I didn’t even mention the distraction of twitter and forum updates when you’re trying to get real work done. That’s a whole other Pandora’s box!

      Reply

  2. Posted by Nelia Green on November 10, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Oh, dear … I certainly agree with each of you on all points. I’ve been following Ramin Karimloo online for the past 2 years. What else am I doing with my life??? Seems like all I do is check in, follow all the new leads, and start all over again. EGADS !! It just seems to get worse – will it ever end? I’m able to do this to some extent because I’m retired now and don’t have to show up, be, and do at a job anymore.

    My “REAL” friends don’t have a clue about the dynamics of my OBSESSION (nor do I), so it’s nice, and maybe healthy, to have an outlet to share all the craziness involved in tracking/stalking a high-profile performer with others who can relate. Yes, I think you have to be careful who you connect with in these circumstances as you do in any social environment. And, there’ll always be a leader in the pack who defaults to the No.1 position – think that’s pretty normal in most groups.

    HELP !!! I may require intervention at some point….

    Reply

  3. Posted by Athena P. on January 10, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    I’m not a joiner either. I’m an introvert and love to keep to myself. I’ve seen how clique-y clubs get and I never want to be a part of that. I’ll keep my interests to myself, thanks. It’s better that way because if you don’t you just get made fun of. 😦

    Reply

    • Since I share my interests here at The Ugly Bug Ball, I’m not exactly keeping them to myself! Still, the place is mine and I get to control what’s posted. It’s just about right, as long as folks drop in sometimes to keep me company. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

      Reply

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