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  1. #1
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Default Understanding Entitlement and Toxicity in Fandom

    My friend Hampus Eckerman wrote a great piece over on File770, titled Fandom, Entitlement and Toxicity, and it has some really interesting observations and analysis to how we as fans can engage with the source material. I'm not sure I agree with everything he says, or that it provides everything in the puzzle, but it identifies and talks about some really interesting pieces.

    I remember the enormous *anger* I felt at the time. It felt like they were spitting in my face. And that is where I understood how much of my love for Spider-Man was connected to the accumulation of knowledge. The true nerdhood, to spend an enormous amount of time and money to build up expertise in an obscure subject that most people would most likely have a more casual relationship to. I had read all the Spider-Man that had been published in Sweden. Many American comics too. I had bought all the old comics that were published before I was born. I knew my Spider-Man. Storylines. Villains. I didn’t only have favourite comics, I had favourite panels. Favourite lines.

    And suddenly, this knowledge and time investment was rendered obsolete. It no longer mattered. Things I had painstakingly learned over time no longer had happened. People suddenly lived again with no explanation and there would never be an explanation. I had no longer any idea of how much of my knowledge that was useless or how much was still in play. It was *worse* than any reboot in DC, because then I knew everything started from the beginning (except for Batman, because he was too popular). Now I just had no idea.

    This was when Twitter was still in its early childhood, before artists and creators had become accessible. I think I would have been one of those sending angry and outraged tweets at Marvel or artists otherwise. Because I felt disrespected. Slapped in the face. I tried to read Spider-Man afterwards, but the joy was out of it. Some 3-4 issues later I quit entirely. And with quitting Spider-Man, I also started to quit other Marvel comics. And DC. In a way, it changed my whole relationship to comics.
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  2. #2
    Swollen Member GOLGO 13's Avatar
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    Yeah, I somewhat understand some of those feelings about something you invested time in.

    But, I didn't go through the stages of grief. I just quit "collecting" quite suddenly. I still like to read, but a funny thing happened was that my tastes in subject matter very much changed.

    I don't Tweet, or do FB. So this thing about attacking creators online is weird. I have no relationship with comics, it's either available when I'm bored it's not.

  3. #3
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    I think this varies a lot. I think there is a confluence of factors required in order to become a "toxic" fan—and personality is obviously a big one. In the case of Hampus and grief above, it was a sudden change in the fannish object that started a grieving process, but people quit hobbies and collecting all the time anyway.

    Now that I think of it a bit more, one important factor might be that an individual turning to public attacks, smearings, or complaints might require at least two things: one is that the person has turned the fannish object into a form of identity, another is that that identity must be public or outward-facing in some way.

    It's one thing to change hobbies, quite another to change hobbies when one's social network is dependant on that hobby.

    Of course, what we have now is a situation where public complaining and public outrage has become normalised, and now we have people doing that because otherwise "normal" people thinks that's the way to behave online or as a fan. In a way, I think the problem with social media (and I define that way more broadly than most people do) is that it's really hard to create negative feedback mechanisms (in the system theory sense, i.e. ones that suppresses the result of a change).
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

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