Artwork by Gisèle Lagacé & Shouri from the anthology The Secret Loves of Geek Girls
Why are there some people who feel the need to try to ruin fandom for others? No individual owns fandom, it belongs to all of us. It's an open invitation for anyone to be a part of something they enjoy. However, it always seems that there are some who go out of their way to make others feel unwanted or that their opinions don't matter.
I feel so bad whenever I read that a fan had a terrible experience in whatever that interest them. I have seen where some fans feel excluded, have been bullied or pushed out from their fandom because they have a different opinion, are female, a person of color, LGBTQ, or any other reason that makes no sense for their mistreatment.
It's weird that I never had a bad fandom experience, I've never been treated poorly and my opinions are valued and appreciated. I know my experience is not the norm because I'm constantly hearing and reading about fans' negative experience. It's disappointing that some fans feel as if they don't belong especially since there is no one who gets to decide who matters in fandom.
My opinion is, like what you like and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. I'm an opinionated person but I draw the line at telling someone what to like or not like, it's up to them. My opinion as an old comic book fan is not more important than someone who is a new fan to the world of comics. We are all in the same fandom and should be able to respect each other.
We need to learn to appreciate that we all have different opinions and that it's okay that they are not the same as the majority. A lot of negativity occurs when some try to push their opinions onto others. To me when someone pushes negativity in fandom it makes me wonder if they are miserable and want to make someone else as miserable as they are. Can't we just agree to disagree, we are all not going to like or dislike the same things.
And speaking of disliking things, I think it's okay if something isn't for us. I have a friend who is a big fan of Game of Thrones, she's reads the books and loves the TV series. Now as for me I couldn't connect with the show and stopped watching it after the first few episodes. What I love about my friend is that she didn't try to change my opinion nor try to get me to continue watching the show. For my part, I didn't try to push my opinion that I didn't like the show on her. Game of Thrones is not for me but my friendship is solid because we're not going to fight over a TV show.
I feel like fandom should be a fun outlet for fans to express their passion for things that interest them but all too often negativity can ruin the fun. That is, if you let it. Since negativity seems to get the most attention, I try to post positive things along with the critical. I also try to be as welcoming as possible to fans whether new or old. As someone who is new to the Shadowhunters/The Mortal Instrument and Teen Wolf fandom, I have to say that I had the pleasure of meeting some really nice fans who have welcomed me and to them I say thank you. They have made it a good experience.
People are going to say mean things, that's a given but you don't have to let it affect you nor ruin your fan experience. And remember fandom is for everyone, so have fun.