This comment on Cheryl Morgan’s blog, by Lynelle Howell, got me thinking.
Perhaps it’s just me, but I see organised fandom as ageing quite significantly, and we’re not replacing them with the age bracket above. Certainly that’s the case here in NZ – I am the youngest member of our SF club and I’m 36!
I guess that’s due to the fact that the younger generation can get their fix online, can download shows, can chat with others online without leaving their couches etc. But I worry about fandom long-term if that’s the case.
I feel like it must be referring directly to me, being a New Zealander in her early twenties who does not participate in ‘organised fandom’ and who has never particularly felt the need to. And who is kind of confused as to why younger people’s fannishness occuring online would be a worry.
I kind of resent the implication that I don’t have real life friends with whom I can talk geekery. Why do I have to join a club to find like-minded souls? I suppose I was lucky with the friends I made at high school, in that we genuinely share a lot of interests. So, let’s see, last week I had some friends come over (so they had to leave the couch, even if I didn’t) for our ‘feminist debate’. We ended up discussing Firefly (which I believe we all own on DVD), and figured out that Simon is actually a girl. That’s fandom.
So I have friends I discuss things with. I have family I discuss things with. I don’t sit at my computer watching downloaded TV shows on my own (how many New Zealanders can afford the bandwidth to regularly download TV shows anyway?) I watch them with my family, so even if we’ve missed an episode and had to download it, we hook the computer up to the TV and watch it together. We read each other’s books, and then we lend them to friends. I have an offline community, so I’ve never felt the need to seek out another.
Also I’m an introvert who’s bad at making conversation even on the internet. So why am I going to go out and join a club – where everyone’s going to be older than me – when I’m already having my fannish needs met, and there’s also no guarantee that these people are going to have anything in common with me. We could have completely different taste in books – Saskia and I at work both read fantasy, but we read completely different kinds of fantasy. My friends and I regularly slip in and out of feminist critique when we discuss things – how do I know a group of strangers are going to be comfortable with that, and am I going to be comfortable doing so?
I can even discuss some things with my friends who wouldn’t consider themselves SF fans – they still watch Doctor Who, maybe, or Battlestar Galactica. Because SF isn’t an exclusive club! We can be casual about it!
A significant portion of my fannishness is facilitated by the internet, yes – that’s how I buy my books, that’s how I find out about them, that’s where I go for my meta on whatever TV episode I’ve just watched. The fandom that isn’t ‘organised fandom’. It doesn’t cut out the people I interact with in real life (and it doesn’t preclude making real connections with people you meet over the internet).
On the other hand, I will be attending a convention for the first time this year, and I’m definitely excited about it. And scared at the same time because I don’t know anyone, and I’ve never travelled on my own before – funnily enough, none of my friends were up for spending $1000 dollars on getting overseas for a convention. Maybe they don’t spend as much time reading panel reports on the internet and feeling jealous. Also, I’m the one that wants to work in the industry, so it’s not just about being a fan even.
TL;DR: My fandom might not be your fandom, but that’s okay! It’s still fandom.