For anyone in social media, the word fandom is immediately recognisable. Technically, fandom is the subculture of fans – of people who love a common thing, and share a common interest and bond with each other based on that. Fandom references is the inside term for talking about specific words and making particular definitions or jokes that are understood only by those who follow the object(s) of common interest.
Fanaticism has always been a part of culture, be it in religions or in any sort of belief that sounds strong on paper and stronger on the mind. This post by itself was prompted by a post on the website Tumblr where some users were dissecting the word origins of the word Fandom. While some opined that it is derived from a common root like kingdom, another user pointed out that a country is a king’s domain and therefore kingdom.
The discussions that followed finally arrived at one (startling?) conclusion. Fandom has roots in Fanatics’ domain. The general outcry for this particular revelation (?!) was one of mingled shock and resigned acceptance. Most users present recognised that a fandom is a collection of people whose love for their interest exceeded that of normal fans to the point of passionate involvement with minute aspects of the said concept.
Fandoms usually are a bit strong in support of their point of interest (for instance a book series) to the point where they dissect individual sentences, quote words and phrases, collect merchandise and start rooting for individual characters. A by product of the fanaticism of fandoms is called the fanfiction – fictitious tales generated by fans that are not part of the originals, or work of the original creator. These fanfictions are often laced with the particular fan’s wish for filling out the loopholes in the original (if any existed) or mostly about imagining alternate storylines that could have resulted at a different ending.
The root cause, or basic reason for the existence of fandoms is the fanaticism that goes behind what could have otherwise been just an interest. The internet by itself is a storehouse of a variety of theories, talks on discussion forums and other stuff that keeps the interest in the concepts alive, with each new ‘revelation’ sparking debates and giving the fans more reasons to talk about the original characters and offer their own speculative theories.
But all these explanations apart, it clearly cannot be denied that fandoms themselves are very similar to religion camps – where passion and faith are the only moving forces and all and sundry from the other ‘fandoms’ are wrong by default. The degree of fanaticism might differ, but both the pacifist and the terrorist are only differentiated by the level of their involvement. In some cases, the beliefs are challenged, but faith does pull through.
Fanaticism is a huge part of human culture. The beliefs and values need to be strong. It is nature to have a system to believe, to follow and to belong to, but many times, the system itself becomes all consuming, the passion turning to defiance and stubborn refusal to hear anything against the system and this fanaticism ultimately rules the belief system as a whole, either leading to a whole collapse or general resistance to it.
To practice in moderation is the essential for any belief system, and as with fandoms, the fanaticism should not extend to a level where it consumes the person’s core system and values that transcend all other self imposed thoughts and ideas.