Being part of a fandom has its ups and downs, but there’s one thing that hits harder than anything else: when you end up in the minority. You might love a certain ‘thing’- whether it’s a TV show, a movie, a book, a game or a cave mural – but as you eagerly take to the Internet to find others who feel the same way, all you find is a tidal wave of negativity. The movie was panned, the TV show is a joke, the cave mural is seen as inferior to most other cave murals. None of it makes sense, because this is something you truly enjoyed…and the reaction of most is to feel personally victimized and hurl abuse right back.
First of all, it’s important to note that not everyone hates that thing. It might seem that way, but unless it’s truly a trainwreck (a la The Room), no one is alone in their sincere fandom. It’s just easy to get the wrong impression.
For example, imagine there’s a certain game that happens to be your favourite. Hypothetically, let’s say that game is Final Fantasy VIII, (A.K.A. the greatest game ever made). Still, it’s divisive. There’s no shortage of series fans who write it off completely. How to cope, if not by declaring all the haters to be idiots? Well, don’t do that. Here are a few steps you can take instead.
There’s No Need To Fight
It’s natural to feel defensive when someone insults a piece of media that we love. After all, it’s almost personal; you love that thing, and they’re blatantly calling you wrong, even if they don’t have a clue who you are and it’s not personal.
Why does it matter? Why should you let the opinion of people you’ve never met color your own? ‘It doesn’t matter’ might seem like cold comfort, but it’s still true; nothing is perfect, everything has its haters, and just because the thing you like has more haters than usual, it doesn’t mean you need to leap into action to defend its honor – a lone white knight against an ignorant horde. Forget it and move on, because some battles aren’t even worth fighting. In fact, it’s not a battle at all if you don’t let it get to you.
Finally, everyone has their guilty pleasures, which means that everyone who can’t stand your personal favorite movie, TV show or video game has something of their own that they love, even though everyone else (perhaps including you) thinks it’s terrible.
Celebrate Your Differences
While being part of a minority is generally no fun, it doesn’t have to be all bad; after all, having opinions and tastes that differ from the crowd is part of what makes us stand out. This isn’t free license to run away with the idea that you’re a special snowflake, too good for this infantile existence, but it’s at least a sign that you don’t just latch onto the latest fads.
If 99% of people liked the same stuff, then Super Mario Bros. would be the only video game in existence and the remaining 1% would just have to suck it up as wave upon wave of identical sequels flooded the market. A majority of books, series, movies, games and whatever else exist in a middle ground of quality where, depending on your tastes, you can end up liking or not liking a thing. Neither is right or wrong. There are only opinions, and how you handle them once they’re formed.
Remember How Diverse We Really Are
Let’s say you’re incredibly fond of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: the Movie (A.K.A. the greatest superhero film ever made). Most people would say that honor goes to The Dark Knight or something similar, but you think differently. Maybe it’s because you’re blessed with a special artistic vision but, more likely, that movie just has a lot of sentimental value. Perhaps you saw it when you were six, decided that the Power Rangers were the pinnacle of cool and watched the movie every morning before breakfast for three months. Now you’re in your mid-twenties and you can see the glaring flaws in the movie, but still love it regardless because of what it means to you.
But other people grew up watching Duck Tales, or Superman: The Animated Series, or something foreign that you’ve never heard of because it was never broadcast in your country. Maybe, against all odds, they grew up enjoying Power Rangers: Operation Overdrive, even though it’s awful.
That’s great for them, because during our childhood we’re able to form connections to things that as adults we’re too stodgy and critical to appreciate. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice may not be perfect, but the people praising it as the greatest superhero movie of all time have seemingly been able to tap into their inner child and ignore all the flaws. Then there are things that some see as flaws, while others consider them to be strokes of genius. You don’t know a person’s story, just as they don’t know yours, and neither of you can judge each other for liking what you want to like. No one will ever agree universally on anything, but the least we can do is respect one another’s opinions.
It’s always going to be tough to see someone trashing something that you love, but that’s the big, wide world we live in: teeming with opinions and feelings and experiences, and getting angry and ranting at people online isn’t going to make a dent. Just know that it only matters if you let it, and be glad for the diversity; it’s the reason we have such a massive amount of things to enjoy in the first place.
Of course, if you like, you can keep getting angry and ranting at people online. In a way, that’s fun too.