I’m going to let you in on a secret, you ready for this?
Okay here it is: by and large it doesn’t matter what you like. Nor does it matter what someone else likes. You don’t need to, nor should you, lash out at someone else for deviating from your orthodoxy.
One of the problems with modern* nerd culture is how we identify with the media we like and perhaps more importantly with the media we don’t like. There’s an internalization of liking something. Now having discovered this new awesome thing, it’s only natural for us to want to spread the word and get other people to enjoy it. Part of it is good hearted; part of it is seeking validation. If I like this thing and if others like this thing then it must mean that’s objectively good and I’m right for liking it. This is only one half of the equation though; the same thing more or less happens with media we don’t like.
The problem that stems from this is pretty straightforward: it breeds interactions that aren’t pleasant, that can be anything from mildly annoying to downright mean. It’s a no-win situation of a rabbit-hole of negativity.
Of course I’m not saying that you should never express your opinion.. You should be aware of the context of a situation you find yourself in and act accordingly. There are times when you can geek out about something, times when you can have civil yet critical discussions of a work’s merits and times when you don’t need to say anything. In short, don’t be a dick.
Furthermore, it’s important to not tie personal validation to fandom. Diversify, expand your horizons. There are so many things out there just waiting to be discovered. Pigeonholing yourself is nothing more than selling yourself short.
Now you, the reader, may have noticed a shift in pronouns in these last few paragraphs. Part of this is a purely grammatical issue, at best it be incredibly awkward. The far more salient reason though is to help establish where I’m coming from. The thing about this mindset is how pervasive and easy is to adopt that mindset. It’s the mindset that I had, and on some level still have. Altering your worldview like this isn’t easy, but it’s worth the payoff. The view in question is so limiting and ultimately toxic.
We can be better, we should be better.
Next week, I talk about living in the future and cultural democracy
*I’m just going to operate under the assumption that this is a modern phenomenon due to the existence of the internet and social media even if the trend existed in some form or another from earlier in time.