Wednesday, April 9, 2008
The Phases Of Fandom
Morgan has been in various fandoms for a number of years. When I saw this article, I loved it. Please understand this is talking about fandoms in general. This is not specific to any particular group of fans.
Written by Morgan and published with her approval.
Phase I: Positive action, solidarity & unity. This is the initial rush of finding one another, of discovering "I'm not alone!" and of everyone working together as a like-minded, cohesive (if diverse) unit. This is the best case scenario, the time when everyone is speaking with one voice and saying the same thing. This initial phase can last from weeks to years, depending on the dedication of those involved, and the response from the "Powers That Be." If the response is rapid and positive, this phase may continue. If not ...
Phase II: Cracks in the Mirror. When there's little or no response from TPTB, fandoms can falter. There's no "common foe," so fans look at one another, instead. They're frustrated, and there's no external outlet. They express disagreement or dissatisfaction with the fandom in general, or with individuals. Tempers flare, and factions begin to form. This's the most critical time in a fandom.
Phase III: He Said/She Said. Then follows a period of negativity, when individuals target one another. Miscommunication runs rampant, and everyone starts viewing each other with mistrust. The downward spiral gets worse the longer there's silence from the "common foe." Incidents of anger and accusation increase. People find fault, and divide the fandom. "Leaders" emerge for the factions, and the campaigning becomes less for the "cause" as for individual "power" within the fandom.
Phase IV: Building Our Own Sandbox. One or more communities are formed by like-minded individuals. This is can be a positive and natural progression, or a negative backlash---totally dependent upon the intent of the individuals. If communities are formed openly and honestly by those deeply committed to the "cause," then the formation is positive. If, however, a community is based on anger, then it's more negative, and can do far more harm than good to the fandom.
Phase V: Circle the Wagons! "Territorializing," i.e., individual groups put up "walls" and want to protect themselves from precieved invasions by rival groups/factions. There are assumptions and accusations of "spying." Groups can actually experience paranoia, which drives a wedge between fans. Mistrust and even (in extreme cases) hostility is shown to newcomers, which hurts the entire fandom.
Phase VI: Detente. Oddly enough, the next stage is relative peace while everyone does their own thing. Groups usually avoid confrontation with others, though there are occasional "flare-ups" in this undeclared war of factions. Generally, someone smooths things out, but appearance is everything in this stage. It's imperative to look good so their group will be seen as innocent "victims" in any given situation.
Phase VII: OMG What're We Doing To Each Other? This happens when one or more groups suddenly realize that "united we stand and divided we fall" is a basic truth. This phase usually comes after some response from the "Common Foe." There's a rush to re-unify the core fandom, and to recapture the initial unity. Sometimes it's successful, sometimes it 's not. It can bring people back together, but some fans are still leery. They've been burned too badly, and aren't willing to extend the trust too far.
Phase VIII: Peace at Last---Or Not. Eventually, one of two things happens: Either the various factions accept the fact not everyone enjoys fandom in the same way, and there's a return of mutual respect for all fans. Or, the fandom implodes, scattering all the groups in different directions. The former can bring about a re-unification for the factions, and solidify the fandom. The latter usually spells total failure for any campaign or cause the fans have embraced.