Gaming Like A Sir: Fan Vs Fanatic
I have cool friends. I realised this in the last few weeks. I know that it seems weirdly recent to realise that I admire the people I love, but it happened anyway. I’ve always known they were nice and friendly, that we share similar interests and that they’re generally what I consider to be some of the better quality slime in the septic tank that is humanity, but I never stood back and wondered if they were cool. They are.
So what do I mean by cool? Well, I hosted a few events over the last few weeks, I’ve been to a few parties — normal holiday stuff. You can know someone for a long time but one day you study their faces, I mean really look, and you see things you never noticed before. You see them the way that someone meeting them now would see them. For that brief moment, they become people other than your friends or family and you can see them through fresh eyes. It was at these parties, in those quiet moments when other people are talking and smiling, when everyone is relaxed, couples are holding hands or cuddling, we are simply enjoying each others company. In these moments I began to really see my friends for the people they are.
Maybe I was just in a good mood or maybe it was the daze of being surrounded by loved ones, or maybe it was because I was warm and full of booze, food and… sandwiches (watch seven seasons of How I Met Your Mother and somewhere along the line you’ll understand that reference) but I was suddenly really proud of being a member of my friend group.
I swelled with pride. My friends will tell a story where I was so drunk I just grinned like an idiot, arched my back and held my breath but I know the truth — I was just full of pride. Each person in my friend circle is a separate, unique but no less awesome individual and I realised how lucky I was to have found them. Of all the people in all the world, of the different schools or seventeen houses I’ve lived in (I wish that number was an exaggeration), how did I come to be a part of a group of people way more awesome than me?
I don’t know. I keep expecting someone to suddenly look up at me and say, “Hey, who are you? Why are you here?” and I’ll just back away slowly. I never figured out how I cheated my way in but at this point I’m just kinda trying to keep my head down and hope that no one notices who I really am. Irrationally, I started to think about other people and their friend groups. I started to think about how mine was better and how those people didn’t really understand what having really cools friends was actually like.
It started to make me angry that those people walked around pretending to have cool friends but they were just lying to themselves…..
….suddenly I stopped. Even in my highly drunken stupor, I recognised how dumb I was being. Mostly though, I had a sudden insight into what it meant to be a fanboy. It was terrifying, all that baseless insecurity and the need to defend something that shouldn’t be and doesn’t need defending.
Think back on your own history of fandom. What have you loved most and why do you love it? Would you need to defend it if mocked? Definitely. Do comparisons between it and other, worse things devalue its specialness? Well, this is where we start to tread that fine line between fandom and fanaticism.
I know that “fan” is technically just the abbreviated form of fanatic but in modern culture a “fan” is something else entirely. If you love something, you identify with it and want more of it, you are a fan. If you name your children after it and tattoo identifying marks onto your cheeks, we’ve crossed into the realm of the fanatic.
Why the distinction? I want to make a point here, fans are good. Fandom is love. Large, voluptuous, scream it from the rooftops love. True fans only want to spread the love. Fans create amazing artwork, write stories, become inspired to create their own work and just generally add a great deal of joy.
On the other hand we have the fanatic, the fanboy. This beast is known to feed on the misery of others and enjoys hurling around slurs like fag, bitch and yo’ mamma jokes. All of these vermin hate women but want nothing more than to eat sandwiches made by them. They have all done unspeakable things to your mom regardless of her age, attractiveness or indeed if she is living or dead. Finally these monsters cannot allow any other thing in the world to be loved more than their own little “precious”. Love intimidates and threatens them. If people do not love their precious, or love something else, these parasites are worked into a frenzy which can lead to cannibalism and the accusation that you are simply below filth and will be dubbed “noob”, or in extreme cases, gayhomofag.
I know I’ve gone a bit insane here, but it has purpose. I hung out with my aforementioned friends and experienced, perhaps for the first time, true openness in a group. All opinions were valid and all discussions and arguments were respectful. That doesn’t mean passionless, but respectful, a genuine attempt to gain knowledge and to understand a new point of view or at least gain insight into another way of thinking. It was marvelous to behold and I still think about the conversation as though it had some serious bloom effects and angels were singing in the background.
Then, some time later I was with a few acquaintances and had a similar conversation that ended with unhappiness, only because a select few behaved like fanatics and not fans.Instead of allowing other people their opinions, they were threatened by them. A dumb opinion may be dumb, but it is not up to us to humiliate and mock them. To each their own. Now I’m not saying the prequels are better than the original trilogy but if someone tells me they kinda liked the prequels, I’m not going to tear them apart and feast on their bones either.
I suppose my message today comes for a poignant experience I had, two different conversations resulting in two very different feelings. On one hand, sadness, unhappiness and vague feelings of insecurity and resentments. On the other hand, warm gooey happiness with a nut caramel crumble of delicious satisfaction and validation.
In short, be humble, stay classy and tread lightly.
I hope that all of you experience a conversation like the one I had with people I love, it is a glorious thing to be a part of.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go chill with my friends.