We’ve all been there before. The frustration, the hypocrisy, the never ending sense of ennui, the powerful urge to deactivate all social media accounts, throw out all technology in your possession and embrace life in the wilderness, the—
Wait. Maybe you’re not actually there yet. Maybe you’ve never been there.
(That’s possible, though such luck is typically unique in this day and age — unless you’re over the age of forty. Then again, there was Star Trek and Star Wars, so maybe that should be amended to over the age of ninety.)
In that case, let’s start from the beginning.
The Spring Breeze
Congratulations! You’ve just stepped into a new fandom! You’ve opened that cabinet into fan-Narnia, propelled yourself past Platform 9 3/4 into your fan-Hogwarts, jumped down the rabbit hole into fan-Wonderland, [insert fantasy world here]!
It’s like a breath of fresh air. Everything is new and wonderful and exciting. People, although strangers, are kind, knowledgeable, accepting and best of all, just like you. Journalists are a default goldmine for knowledge; you follow and listen to them and read the newspapers eagerly, soaking it all up like a sun-dried sponge thrown into a filled sink.
You may not know the ins and outs of everything, but that’s okay. You’re here for the experience, for the joyride through this wonderful, wonderful world.
Common terms and phrases associated with this stage: optimistic, hopeful, earnest, you must be new here, oh [insert name here], you’ll learn, just so you know, you don’t know this but, don’t listen to, stay away from, take it from me
The Summer Storm
Alright, you’ve been around for a bit. You’ve felt out the environment, carved out a comfortable spot for yourself, struck up some good friendships. The time for tip toeing around with an innocent smile on your face is over.
Because now? Now you have opinions. Oh yes.
That journalist over there? You’re not actually sure if they know what they’re talking about. The big name fan that’s popular in your circle? Kind of a hypocrite and definitely a fair-weather people pleaser. You’re pretty sure this newspaper has it out for you; like you don’t have any concrete proof or anything — not that you need it spelled out in red font, like c’mon, it’s obviously a witch hunt — but with the way they’re going hard these days it’s not like you need any.
And don’t get you started on those f*ckers in the comment sections. It’s like everyone with an internet connection and a semi-decent grasp of the English language wants to talk sh*t about your people. Look, man, it’s not like you’re an aggressive person by nature, you ain’t interested in taking the preacher role, but dudebro1357 keeps making dumbsh*t statements pulled straight out of his behind, and those other sheep-people on the site are giving him thumbs up like what he’s saying is based in reality, and you just have to make a stand. Not for the sheeple but for the sake of humanity. It’s blatant lies. You’re expected to sit by and let this steaming pile of sh*t be spilled all over your face and take it? Take it like you’ve taken all those lies in your life, lies that have lead to wars and death and tragedy?
No. That’s just not right. And you’ll tell dudebro1357 so. You don’t expect to change his mind (some madness is just too deeply ingrained for logic and reason to work), but it’s the principle of the matter.
It’s always about the principle.
Common terms and phrases associated with this stage: passionate, opinionated, aggressive, troll, keyboard warrior, loudmouth, nitpicker, evangelists, cult-like, raving, f*cking relax already, watch out the fandom police are out, flat earth conspiracy theorist
The Fall Tide
Time for a deep breath. One, two, three, exhale.
It’s time to come down from the high. You’ve reach the summit of the rollercoaster. You’ve done battle in the dark against thousands of opposition commenters with little to no ammunition. You’ve picked yourself up from a devastating loss and an unexpected block on Twitter. You’ve fought the good fight, never asking for any recognition — thumbs ups, likes, retweets, favourites — in return.
Now it’s time for a little break.
You could step in, tell that poor sap all the ways they’re wrong, but now you just shrug. Just because you can doesn’t mean you can be bothered. The world is largely still wrong but now you want to save your breath a bit. Choose your battles rather than fight the hordes. After all, the hordes will simply keep coming but the generals will eventually show up ripe for the picking and you’ll be there, fresh and raring to go.
Something has settled under your skin. A serenity that keeps your feet firmly on the ground despite the earth shifting underneath them. Still sharp as a tack but now wise enough to take a step back.
Common terms and phrases associated with this stage: relaxed, blase, settled, mellowed out, it’s not that big of a deal, just can’t be bothered, they’re obviously wrong but time will show them the error of their ways, maturity, agree to disagree
(Note: It’s common to shift between this stage and the summer storm, hence the word tide.)
The Winter Snap
If you’ve reach this stage you really have seen it all.
You know all the cliques; you know what someone is going to say about this really specific topic before they even comment. You recognize all the patterns and the narratives constructed to maximize the most clicks, money, controversy and/or attention. You realize that you probably get information from the same place the journos you are following get theirs. You notice that you’ve probably been having the same conversation with the same topic of discussion for the last four years. You’re not interested in engaging people anymore, knowing said people will go back to saying what they were before two weeks from now. (The principle is lost on them.)
There are some young guns shooting around, fresh blood if you will. Their enthusiasm makes you sick. Sometimes it molds into nostalgia, the days when you were that hapless guppy swimming around, but mostly it’s revulsion, the depths of which surprises you. You try to be patient if/when they find their way to you like lost lambs, but mostly it ends with you snapping and their virtual tears.
Now you understand the urge to run, to deactivate your fan account and step out — to take such a long break it’s like you’ve left the fandom altogether. Things need to change, things need to freshen up. But you’re not the one to do it. There’s probably a movement out there — but it ain’t yours.
Common terms and phrases associated with this stage: tired, wise, hardhearted, cynic, old, Debbie Downer, disappeared, eeyore, grumpy mcgrumpypants, just so done, sigh, what’s the point, curmudgeon, possibly depressed
Now you know the stages. Some people don’t move past certain stages, while other shift through them constantly. It’s not uncommon for people leave one fandom at winter snap and start a new one at spring breeze, but it takes some doing to go back from winter snap to the earlier stages within the same fandom.
Unless you follow a sports team. Then you’re stuck at one stage: perpetual sucker.