The lyric, “This is how we get connected,” from Last Night in the City is one of my very favorites. It is the essential idea behind fandom and fan communities. Being part of a fandom can be very different than just being a “fan”. Let me explain what I mean by that. I am a fan of a ton of different things. I really like vanilla lattes so I’m a fan of them. My closet is full of boots as they are my favorite type of shoes so you could say that I’m a fan. I enjoy the TV show, Designated Survivor so that makes me a fan. That said, I’m not a part of any fandom related to any of those. No, to be a member of a fandom, I believe, means reaching out to others. It means making connections.
I remember when I fell for the TV show, Roswell, at the end of the 1990s. Initially, I sought out online information to find spoilers as I was impatient about what was going to happen. Soon enough, I found a message board in which fans spent time talking to other fans about the show. I never really thought about doing something like that but after lurking for awhile, I decided to try it. Not surprising to anyone reading this blog, but I really liked it. That fandom and message board came at the very right time in my life when I needed to make connections with others. It helped to ease a sense of loneliness and isolation I had from having moved to a new city where I knew no one. Likewise, before joining that board, part of me really believed that I was all alone in the love for a little TV show and more. Once I started chatting with people, I loved it and soon enough feelings of sadness were pushed to the side.
Then, of course, I fell back in love with Duran Duran. This time, I didn’t hesitate to reach out to find other fans. I had learned that making and having those connections were essential both for my outlook on life but also made being a fan fun. Initially, those connections formed at a little message board called DuranDuranFans.com. Over time, those connections and other, newer ones moved over to social media. First, it was MySpace then Facebook, Twitter, etc. Now, though, the chatter on social media is different. It is a lot less about Duran Duran and a lot more on current events and politics. This shift happened over time but partly as a result of less conversation about Duran and more concern about the current state of U.S. at least with the people I am connected to.
I do miss chatting with other fans about Duran Duran. That said, I’m thankful that we have this blog so that I can still express how I feel about what is happening with the band. In many cases, responses on Twitter or Facebook to blog posts remind me of those initially formed connections as people are simply talking about Duran and nothing else. Back when I first joined the Duran fandom, post reunion, I needed that connection with other fans a lot. Realizing that others loved the band as much as I do helped me to embrace my love for the band in a way that I wouldn’t have done if I remained a lone fan. My fandom grew much deeper as a result.
Now, it is different. It is no longer about forming connections but about keeping them. My fandom is as secure as it ever has been. It isn’t going anywhere. That Duranie card will never leave my possession. Those initial interactions with other fans have either become deeper in which a real, genuine friendship has formed or they have faded over time. In participating in social media now, I do want to maintain those friendships. Absolutely. Yet, just like my Roswell fan self of the 1990s, I need to know that I’m not alone. In 1999, I feared that I was the only person, especially the only adult, watching and enjoying the heck out of a TV show. When I joined in on the message board, I understood that I wasn’t.
Something similar is true now, too. I still worry that I’m all alone in how I’m thinking and feeling about what is going in my country. When I see others say or feel like I do, I am comforted. It allows me to not feel so alone. I feel stronger with more hope. That matters a lot to me. This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to maintain my connections from the Duran fandom. The opposite is true. I want those friendships to be strong and I still want to discuss any and all happenings with the band. I wish that there were more opportunities to do that. Maybe there are and I’m not just aware of where. Where do all of you talk about Duran these days?
When I was a kid, I remember thinking that I needed to choose one clear identity. Was I going to a dorky person obsessed with bands and clubbing? Was I going to be a serious teacher dedicated to helping her students at all hours? Would my entire life be focused on political activism? Throughout high school and college, I found myself picking one and attempting to dive into that one aspect fo myself. For awhile, I would be extremely happy but over time, I found myself frustrated and missing a different element of my personality. Now, I recognize that I am and need to be all of those things and can be simultaneously. I can’t and shouldn’t try to hide part of who I am even if that makes me unpopular or uncool.
Therefore, I need to be able to connect with others for a variety of reasons. My teacher friends allow me to vent or express concern over my job. Political associates make me feel supported and reassure me that I’m not crazy. My fellow Duranies remind me of good times and the band that I love. I need all of those connections.