Welcome to the Fandom

Please, come in. Have a seat. Would you like a drink or anything, some food? Make yourself at home. Really. I don’t know about everyone else out there, but I don’t bite. Promise.

I can’t decide how I feel about Tumblr. Even though I’ve had my blog address for the past five years (and counting), I would definitely not advocate spending hours of your time there.

While the medium provides a great place for you to cultivate your interests on your personal dashboard, once you start following too many people (and it’s really only fun when you do so your dashboard refreshes at least once every few hours for optimal perusing), you run the risk of having your dashboard become cluttered with all the things you don’t want. Everything from NSFW photo edits to hyper-analyses of significant looks à la Darcy and Elizabeth starts cropping up and your work respite suddenly becomes a course on anger management.

Judge me by my dashboard, why don't you.
Judge me by my dashboard, why don’t you. | Photo Courtesy of Tumblr

(It’s not actually that bad if you’re careful – that’s why I’m still there. I was merely attempting to describe Tumblr in the appropriate levels of Tumblr speak.)

At this point, I don’t blame you for wondering what it is precisely that convinces me to still remain on Tumblr. Sometimes, I wonder that myself when my dashboard looks particularly unappetizing, but other days there are still really nice reminders of why I joined in the first place.

In middle school and high school, the stigma of being a really passionate fan of something was bad enough that it was often easier to lie through your teeth than condemn yourself to social scorn. It didn’t matter if it was something as widely popular as Harry Potter or something as innocent as a boy band *cough*One Direction*cough*. It simply wasn’t cool to be a huge fan of something, and if you were a fan of the “wrong” thing, then you would be told as to all the reasons why you were wrong.

On the other hand, you can find just about any fandom your heart could dream of on Tumblr. And by fandom, I don’t just mean gif sets and photo sets and text quotes. I mean communities of people who dedicate blogs to the thing you love and think about all the tiny details you do as well. It was a place where the stigma didn’t matter anymore, and you could reblog something with the caption “House Pride” and it would make sense, not just in your head, but also to the number of other people who would see it.

You could share fan fiction without receiving side-eyes about whose names you were using and hypothesize about the non-canon material you’d written in. You could share the joy you experienced from watching the same music video seven times in a row without being questioned, because, of course – everyone else did too.

And you could talk about how just thinking about these happy-go-lucky people, these loving characters, these wonderful stories made you smile and helped you keep going even when everything in the rest of your day had gone wrong. Because if they could do it, then somehow, so could you.

Photo courtesy of romangodfrey Tumblr
Photo courtesy of romangodfrey Tumblr

This gif is over two years old now, but I still find it – and its accompanying quote – just as touching as I did when I first saw it.

When people turn to fictional characters, it’s often because they want an escape. The stories of these people shelter us from the storm of our daily lives; they save us, if only for a little while. But when we really give in, become invested, let ourselves be vulnerable, something changes. We begin to feel that we know them. It’s no longer just an escape, but part of us, something that makes us who we are.

These characters teach us that incredible adversity can be overcome. That people can love each other forever. That life can be an adventure. That magic can be real. And even if these miracles have never happened to us, we begin to go through life believing that, someday, they could. 

I didn’t stay on Tumblr for the shaky videos of five tiny boys singing onstage, barely audible beneath the sound of thousands of screaming girls. Nor did I stay for the spoilers that I would inevitably have to avoid after season finales or episode premieres first aired.

I stayed because it was where I could feel safe in liking all the things in the ways that I did. Where being a Ravendor, crying over the Regeneration of your favorite Doctor, being overwhelmingly proud of what four British and one Irish boy accomplished in a mere four years, and wanting to be Peggy Carter was is totally okay. In fact, it’s welcomed.

I’m not sure what everyone else out there is saying about me, but really. I’d love for you to stay a while. I have really good taste. 

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