There is something about finding a fandom. A fandom is like a home, for us nerdy folks. A fandom is somewhere you belong, a place that exists where you can share your love for something with others who love it too.
For years now, I have ‘belonged’ within the Harry Potter fandom. Harry Potter is a very large part of the reason why my best friend and I ever became friends. It has been something to bond over, something to laugh and cry over. We have read and written fanfiction, ‘awwwww’d and drooled over fanart, and attended the midnight screenings of the last two films.
All of this has cemented our friendship. It has ensured that we always have that special something between us that makes us who we are, that makes us us. Naturally, there are other things now which keep us together. Other pleasures, loves, and hates. Other fandoms, other stories to laugh and cry over. But Harry Potter was the first thing. And we always have it to come back to.
My point has wandered somewhat, but it all comes back to the same thing. I have been contemplating the power of fandoms. The ability of a fandom to share a love of something, to make that thing grow beyond what it originally was. I am talking about fanfiction and fanart, but also about the sharing that exists within a fandom. This has been increasingly emphasised to me through tumblr, where fans blog and reblog the words and images that they love about a particular fandom.
The ability to do this keeps the fandom alive within their minds, and their hearts. The fact is that I never really loved Harry Potter until I was introduced to the Harry Potter fandom. I enjoyed the Harry Potter books. The Harry Potter fandom made me love them.
The fandom provided me with glimpses into the imagined pasts of the characters, and into their future. The fandom gave me glimpses behind the scenes. It gave me more. And it was the ‘more’ that made me fall in love with it. The Harry Potter fandom made me realise that young Remus Lupin has a soft spot for chocolate, and I will fight anyone who tells me that it isn’t true, who tells me that it is only fanfiction, that it is not canon. I have read and seen it enough to make it true.
Fandom provides additional aspects to the things we love. It deepens the bond between the fan, and the object of fanaticism. With tumblr again as an example, my recent forays into the website have made me realise once again my love for Harry Potter. Because there are still so many people out there who have loved (and still love) Harry Potter as much as I have. So many people who have found a home, a sense of belonging, in a world that doesn’t technically exist.
These people still feel a connection with the world of Harry Potter: with the characters, the quotes, the magic and the world itself. The Harry Potter fandom is the place where we will always find a home. And these people, these fans, constantly reblog images, words, scenes and quotes, singlehandedly keeping the Harry Potter fandom alive.
And that is the strength of a fandom. A fandom provides the opportunity to experience something we have enjoyed over and over again, and in different ways. It reminds us of the moments that made us laugh, and the moments that made us cry. It reminds us of the words which have inspired, and the characters whom we love. And it is through this constant reminder that we remain involved within the fandom itself.
The existence of a fandom can actually help a book, series or film to become more widespread. Through my forays into tumblr, I was constantly introduced to new things: to new TV series which previously I had ignored, thinking they were not for me; to new books that I had never considered reading; and to new films which I had never even heard about. Through following people on tumblr, people who have similar interests to me, I became aware of new things, new fandoms. I witnessed how devoted people were to these fandoms, and how deeply they cared for fandoms I cared about. Surely, I might like the things they like?
I did. Yes, on all counts. And now I am part of those fandoms as well. Now the sight of images, scenes and quotes related to those fandoms makes me smile, makes me laugh, makes me cry. And I am so thankful for these fandoms, for introducing me to something which I now love, and for keeping that love alive.
I can’t imagine what it must have been like before. To have enjoyed something so much, and not to be able to share it with the world. There is something to be said for being able to see how much people have enjoyed what you have enjoyed, to know that you have inspired people to enjoy these things.
This is a new world. A world of sharing. A world where you can love something, and encourage others to find love and enjoyment within it. Websites like tumblr, facebook, and goodreads (among many, many, many more) enable us to share our enjoyment of something. They encourage us to tell others how much we loved that scene, that character, that romance. And they allow us to physically see how other people have loved it, too.
There is definitely something to be said for being able to share a love of something. Sharing the experience of loving something cements friendships, and can bring a sense of belonging. That is where fandoms come in. Fandoms connect people who share common interests from all around the world, and keep those interests alive and developing. Fandoms provide a place for those of us who enjoy something to the point of obsession, of fanaticism, and connect us to others who share our obsessions. There are thousands upon thousands of fandoms out there.
No matter how obscure your obsession is, no matter how little known or specialised, in all likelihood there is a fandom out there, just waiting to bring you home. All you have to do is reach out and connect with it.