No matter how you ended up here on Bookstr.com, you’re likely a fan of something. While it is sometimes easier to hide your deep obsessions, I encourage you to embrace your geeky side.
In this day and age, being an “obsessive fan” has become almost inescapable. Internet culture is everywhere – and it’s moving fast. Media outlets focus on celebrities daily, if not hourly. I can pretend to be all pretentious about how bad parasocial relationships are and how it’s weird that we care about these things, but I’d be a liar. If everyone’s talking about it, I want to know why. And thus the cycle begins. There are thousands of things to become obsessed with and once one of them sucks you in – it can be hard to escape.
But then again, as bookish people, there are always going to be villains in the story. The thing we are obsessed with becomes ‘too nerdy’, ‘too childish’, or ‘too feminine’ to be considered okay by society. We might be told to act normal, stop wearing merch, or that internet friends aren’t real. We might be reminded every five minutes that we talk too much about a book or a person so often that it’s annoying or strange.
As much as these people and situations suck, I encourage you to embrace your obsessive, geeky nature and let that side of you shine, and here’s why.
Fan-shaming Stems From Misogyny
Why are fandom members, nerds, geeks, etc. considered weird in the first place? A lot of this actually stems from misogyny. Hear me out. Why is it perfectly normal when grown men yell at a sports game, but other people can’t get enthusiastic over a book without being considered annoying or overreacting? Why were women called hysterical for fangirling over Elvis, the Beatles, and One Direction? “Geeks” must hide their fan-fics while others flaunt their fantasy football roster. Even romance novels carry a heavy stigma, being deemed stupid, feminine, and weak. The fact that those three adjectives can even be grouped together shows the problem at hand.
I am not the first, nor will I be the last to point out this double standard. However, I think shining a light on it highlights why being open and proud about your “geeky” interests is such a great thing.
You Don’t Need To Be Like Everyone Else- But It’s Ok If You Are
Throughout my entire life, I’ve yo-yo-ed between being just like the other girls and trying to become the furthest thing from it. It has not been easy to accept but I have learned that you can be a fan of a very popular thing and still have an individual personality. However, you’re also not immediately a ‘pick-me girl’ if you find that extremely niche topic to hyper-fixate on. Worrying about how you fit into society makes being a fan way more stressful than it needs to be. You don’t have to fit one definition or stereotype. You can read an adult biography one day and a YA romance the next. The key is to find whatever you find fun that day, at that moment even.
That being said, you can also change over time. Making something my entire personality and then semi-abandoning it after a few months is something I have done way too many times. I definitely feel sad when that spark starts to die down, but it always seems to come back. Whether it’s an old fandom-flame making a reappearance or the beginning of something new, that giddy smile at my phone tells me I’m in for trouble. But it is 1000% the best kind of trouble in the world.
Being a Fan is Just More Fun
When I say this, I mean it. Trust me, kvetching is one of my favorite activities. But no matter how much I try to resist it, being a part of fandoms has proved to be way more fun than pretending I hate it. Letting yourself enjoy things opens up a whole other world of joy. You can finally understand that inside joke or why everyone hates that one character. Every single time I’ve pretended I’m not intrigued by a fandom, I secretly envy those that already know everything about it. And when I do give in? There are years and years of content to indulge in, and there’s nothing more fun than those inevitable youtube rabbit holes after you enter a fandom.
And this is not to say that you have to love everything about a fandom once you join it. Another aspect of fan-shaming is believing someone is not a true fan if they don’t know every single detail about the book, person, series, etc. I think this is ridiculous. People should be allowed to focus on what they enjoy and not feel compelled to force content down their throats. Similarly, you can be a fan and critique an aspect of a fandom. Bad book-to-movie adaptations suck, but you can’t deny it’s fun to hate-watch. Being able to like something and simultaneously critique it can improve your critical thinking and ability to give constructive criticism.
Fandoms Provide Support
People often join fandoms out of loneliness, curiosity, or boredom. They might be deemed odd for seeking comfort in something fictional or in a person who will never know they exist. I believe this is a limited point of view. Fandoms provide a strong sense of community and belonging. Seeking community has been proven to improve mental health and make people feel like they have a purpose. Being a part of a community can also allow people to find friends that share not only interests but morals and values as well. “Comfort characters” can allow people to feel seen, safe, and relaxed. While fictional characters might seem like a weird thing to cling to, feeling represented can greatly impact someone’s outlook on life.
So wear that piece of merch in public, buy that book series you’ve been thinking about for months, heck even start a fan page for your favorite actor. It may seem silly to others, but as long as you are enjoying it, that’s all that matters.
For more fandom-related content, click here!