Last week, I posted a blog that caused quite a stir, especially on Facebook. I’m okay with people disagreeing with me, but what bothered me about it is that the point I hoped to get across got lost or wasn’t clear. The point I was trying to make was how important connections and friendships are for fandom to survive, thrive and increase, which is especially important when your idol(s) isn’t/aren’t around much. Those friendships keep you interested and keep you tied to fandom even when other interests might pull you away or when life might threaten to take up so much time and energy that one can’t think of fandom. Let me give you some examples from my real life to show what I’m talking about.
I am a Star Trek fan. I became a fan for a simple reason. My family watched it and my brother got really into it as a kid. Thus, the original episodes were always on at my house. Then, once the movies came out, we went to those, too. I didn’t have to think about my “fandom” at that point because it was a family activity. When I grew up and moved away from my family, Star Trek was the last thing on my mind. It wasn’t that I stopped liking it. I didn’t have any conversations about it anymore and had college and then career to worry about. When I moved to Wisconsin, my brother was the closest family member to me, geographically, so I would go visit him when I needed family and a break from life. At his house, we would watch Star Trek. I had forgotten that I liked it. His interest and my connection to him rekindled my interest. Soon, I found myself tuning in at home. I didn’t need my brother to want to watch it. This led to more conversations about Star Trek with my brother and my sister-in-law who is also a Trek fan. The three of us even attended Trek Fest in Riverside, Iowa (the once future birthplace of Captain Kirk). I would have never done that if it wasn’t for my family getting me back into it. These days, we still will talk Trek, watch it or even play Trek games whenever we are together. We called each other right after we saw the last movie (on opening night, I might add!). Our excitement was so strong that we all decided to go see it in the movie theater again! My fandom with Star Trek would have never begun without my brother. It would have died out without him, too.
Now, of course, my fandom with Duran has always been much, much stronger. It could and did survive years away from it. Like many people, I had years in my life that I didn’t think too much about Duran and certainly didn’t talk about Duran. I didn’t know any Duranies during that time and was pretty busy with other things. Yet, it was a conversation with a fellow fan that got me thinking about Duran again. This, of course, led to a full blown explosion of fandom in my life. My life, currently, is filled with so many Duranies that I could not really walk away from my fandom unless I stopped talking to a ton of friends. Even if I wasn’t paying attention to Duran news, I would hear what the band is doing from my friends. On top of that, their excitement gets me more excited. Just look at the past week with news about Duran’s recording with two different choirs. I saw my friends talking about it first before I saw the official announcement from Duran Duran. Then, after work, Rhonda and I talked for over an hour about it! Talking to her got me thinking more about Duran and got me more excited about DD14.
While I know that there are fans out there who can keep their interest going without having friends inside the fandom, I know, for me, and many others I have read about and come across in my research, that connections and friendships matter. They matter to keep the fandom going, especially when there is so much that can pull any of us away from being fans.