We already know I’m a late bloomer for everything. One of those things is that I get into late after the game is fandoms where everyone there has been fans for years.
It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s geek stuff, music, or sports. When it comes to those categories, I never seemed to be around right from the beginning. The one exception is maybe books but even then sometimes I’m late to the game too.
I came across this article on Cracked the other day: 3 Fan Communities That Hate Their Own Members. And it’s something that I’ve noticed whenever I (or anyone new) starts liking things well after the fact of it being established: how much people hate on other fans who all like the same thing.
I just started watching Community this past week. When it first premiered, I was at a stage in life when it didn’t appeal to me. As the years have gone by, I’ve been recommended by several people insisting I would like it. I’ve been meaning to watch it for a while but I never had access to the DVDs and it’s not streaming online. I don’t do the whole torrent thing so basically I was at a disadvantage to watching.
But once I started watching it, I loved it. I was mad at myself for not discovering it earlier. Sure I was late to the game but I could share my love about it others who did because then we’d all be fans together, right? WRONG. While I did get some positive reaction and happiness that I too now was a fan, a lot of reaction was “Late to game!” “Duh, we told you about this for years.” “Fair weather fan”. And I’m like seriously? You’re not happy for new fans?
It wasn’t as if I watched one episode, or read one comic, halfheartedly watched a game, listened to the ONE hit song a band had. When I start liking a fandom, I do my research and I go full force into it. I want to prove to myself that I can be there and so I study up. So to be told that I wasn’t really a fan because I started super late ticked me off. It also made me feel like I had to hide the fact of my excitement of discovering new things that I really enjoyed.
I remember when I went to go see New Found Glory in 2002. I had been a fan of them for about a year and a half at that point. There had been fans who liked them before I did. I’m not sure how they found out about them (find the one CD in their local record store? saw them on stage when they first started) but I know that I got into them because of other people’s enthusiasm. At that last concert, there were several young teens that only new their latest album. They didn’t know any of the old songs at all. Did it peeve me a little? Yes. Especially since they didn’t know “Hit or Miss”. But was I going to get all angry at them and tell they to get out because only true fans deserved to be there? No. Because I wouldn’t have fit that definition anyways.
I guess I’m just trying to figure out this kind of behavior. Whenever someone starts liking something that I’ve liked for years and they genuinely like it (not liking for dubious reasons), I’m excited for them. If anything I want them to like it as much as I do, though I know that overloading them too early can be fatal. I would never mock someone for being a new fan nor would I try to discourage them. Even if they ended up changing their minds and not liking it, I know they that gave it a try and I could respect that.
What makes you better than someone because you discovered it first? Does it mean you’re a better fan? Does it mean you’re a better person? Are you annoyed that you’re not the only one anymore? Is it an identity issue? Do you just hate new fans jumping on the bandwagon? What makes a true fan and why are you one and not someone else?