With Ghostbusters and Pokemon Go causing so much anger and controversy in the last few weeks, I have to ask myself: When did we begin taking our interests so seriously, that it leads to insults being hurled, hackles being raised, and all out online wars taking place? Do we really hate players of a mobile game who aren't on our team, or treat people like shit if they like or don't like the cast of a movie? Are we truly so engrossed in these fantasy worlds that we are deeply offended or angered by those who don't see 100% eye to eye with our views? When did fun, stop being fun?
When Did We All Get So Serious?
It seems like we are becoming more and more aggressive about our passions and angry towards those who treat it differently than we do. I see #TeamWhatever tags everywhere, leading to wars on my Facebook feed and pictures of actual graffiti on public property. I hear players of the Pokemon and Yugioh card games criticizing new players who are learning their way around, calling them "scrubs" and "noobs" and making no effort to welcome them into the game. I see another lame reboot of a beloved 80's franchise leading people to call others "woman-hating MRA pigs" or "misogynistic feminazi SJWs" just for expressing an opinion on a movie in one direction or the other, even when it isn't related to the cast. We've turned activities that are meant to bring joy to our lives into another way to get angry at one another.
Hobbies Are Meant To Be Fun!
Hobbies and passions are one of the few things in life that people can obtain pure joy from. They are rooted far from the stresses of our daily lives and real world, and can come as close to or go as far away from our real selves as we see fit. They can spin an intelligent, nuanced story in our world that allows us to see our own lives from a different perspective, or weave a tale of high adventure and intrigue in a realm not bound by the laws of our own. Or they can make things go boom all over the place, which is fun too. Because they are separate from our daily lives, when we begin to treat them as seriously as our reality, we begin to drain out the joy we obtain from them.
I'm No Stranger To Intense Fandom...
I'm no stranger to diehard passion for a franchise. If my username and avatar didn't give it away, I am a complete Fire Emblem fangirl. I have played Awakening and Fates for a combined 1500 hours, have cosplayed as Corrin, and may or may not have a Xander body pillow that I cuddle and whisper sweet nothings to each night (that last one is a lie... maybe). I used to be among those who were upset by those who would criticize the games, to the point of becoming physically angry and upset and going on 20 minute long tirades about people not getting it or being entitled elitists who were being snooty. I would actually lose sleep from seething over the criticism and insults. In hindsight, it was ridiculous.
...But I Learned To Stop Taking It So Seriously
After a while, I took a step back and realized that all this baseless rage and anger was overshadowing the fun I got from being a fan of the series. Was it really worth becoming physically upset by the opinions and insults of people I would likely never meet, over a subject as trivial as a handheld video game? No. If I was drawing no joy from being a fan of this series, then what was the point? Absolutely not. From then on, I looked rationally at the positives and negatives of the games, ignored the straight insults with no substance, and enjoyed it for just being that: a game. It is still a huge part of who I am, no doubt, but I have put it into perspective and relish in all the wonderful and awful aspects that make it what it is.
Let's Make Our Passions Fun Again!
So this is a call to anyone who has ever had a passion in their lives that has been near and dear to their heart - geeks, nerds, fanboys, fangirls, Trekkies, Whovians, anyone at all. Let's stop spreading anger and hate into our passions, and return to the joy that we loved them for in the first place. There are plenty of places in life where anger and passion is warranted, and can even lead to change. The world of fandom is not one of them. You don't have to like other people's views, but respect that they are a person and that they are allowed to have them. Debate a movie, show a new gamer the ropes, write a fanfiction, whatever you enjoy about your favorite franchise. Let's just make them fun again, for everyone else, and especially ourselves!