Friday, April 12, 2024

Honor Among Fans

My wife Julie and I enjoyed a rare date night out last night. We went to dinner at our favorite local restaurant, a place called Colby's Cafe. Should you ever find yourself in White Hall, Michigan you should give the place a try. (Oh, and reach out. Julie and I would be happy to join you.) Normally, we bring a small board or card game with us to play while we wait for our food, but we forgot this time. So, we just had to spend the time enjoying each other's company. That was nice too.

I had the stuffed burger special: a half-pound burger stuffed with cheese and bacon, topped with lettuce, tomato, homemade onion rings, and BBQ sauce. It was awesome! Julie had the Cobb salad topped with green goddess salad dressing. It's her usual anytime we come here. She loves it! We also had the flavored house blend coffee of the day, and dessert. Julie had a homemade lemon sandwich cookie and I had a piece of apple walnut cake. (Gosh! We love Colby's!)

When we got home, we ended the night by snuggling on the couch and watching Star Trek: Discovery. It was the perfect end to a perfect evening and I even said as much in a post on Facebook. This brings me to what I want to blog about today.

Julie and I are major Star Trek Fans. We have especially been enjoying the new Star Trek, all of them. If pressed to rate our favorites, it's probable that Star Trek: Discovery would end up somewhere closer to the bottom of the new Star Trek pile, but we love it just the same. We love it. We are fans. If you aren't. If you don't like the new Star Trek stuff, that's cool. 

It's not cool to stifle my joy for something that I love. 

I thought this was common knowledge and common practice among fans. Apparently, I was wrong. Time for a crash course in fan etiquette that I'm going to call, "Honor Among Fans."

Lesson 1: A Conditional Fan Post versus an Unconditional Fan Post

A conditional fan post says something like, "I really enjoy this thing, and here are my reasons why." When a person writes a conditional fan post, they have taken the time to write not only about what they enjoy, but why. If someone has taken the time to consider and share the reasons behind their position, they are likely open to some polite debate. (More on that in a moment.)

An unconditional fan post says something like, "I really enjoy this thing." When a person writes an unconditional fan post, they don't care about the why. This is a rallying call to others who love the thing that they love. This is a share my enthusiasm post. Opposing comments are not welcome here.

Lesson 2: Responding to an Unconditional Fan Post

Time for some context. I posted that my wife and I enjoy Star Trek: Discovery. This prompted a friend of mine to comment that they hated the show. Alright, fine. Everyone has an opinion, but I had posted excitedly about the season premiere last week, and that same friend had told me how they felt then. Message received. 

I don't need or want to hear something negative everytime I post about something that I love. (Unconditional fan posts aren't and never will be intended for negative Nellies.) So, I got mad and told my friend that they didn't need to follow me on Facebook if they didn't want to.

His response was something along the lines of: he thought that we were good enough friends that we could share a little banter, but if he was wrong, that I should let him know.

Okay, this made me really mad. His response makes this about our friendship and turns the "blame" around on me. The implication is that I should get a thicker skin. This is classic bully tactics. It's the way that people who bully others and spread hate justify their actions and make their victims feel small. I can't even tell you how wrong this is.

When someone shares something that they love with the world through social media and their post is one of unconditional fandom, they don't want to hear any negative comments. 

This isn't about your friendship with that person or their inability to partake in a little friendly debate.

This is about them sharing their joy for something and having that ruined, not just for them, but for others who might have wanted to share in their enthusiasm, but won't feel comfortable doing so, because potential commenters don't know you the way that the original poster does. 

  • When someone writes a: "Yay, this thing!" post. It is an invitation to others to share in their joy for that thing. 
  • When someone else then writes a: "Boo, this thing!" comment, they create a hostile environment for others who might want to share in the original poster's joy. 

Sure, some posts might be able to share a little healthy "The Thing I Love" pro and con back and forth, but the poster didn't ask for that. They put out an open call to like minded lovers of "The Thing I Love" by writing a: "Yay, I love this thing!" post.

Unconditional Fan posts are not open to debate. Learn to read the room. And if someone seems unhappy or uncomfortable about a comment that you left, apologize and bow out. Any other response is bullying, plain and simple, and that is never okay.

*Deep Breath* Okay …

Lesson 3: Responding to a Conditional Fan Post

As I mentioned above, a considered conditional fan post should be open to a little friendly debate. Some fans like debating their positions on their favorite things. When this is the case, your criticism of their thing should be just as well thought out and considered as theirs. This is healthy debate.

Unconditional Hate (like my friend commenting that Star Trek: Discovery makes him want to throw-up) is never welcome in the comment section of another person's post. (Unless that comment supports the original poster's position - see below.)

What if you hate something and really want to vent?

The Internet is great at letting you do that! Create your own Unconditional Fan Post about hating something: an Unconditional Anti-Fan Post. Those are cool! And, just like Unconditional Fan posts, Unconditional Anti-Fan posts are a rallying call to like minded people to share the hate! (And these tend to get a much greater response.)

Like Unconditional Fan posts, Unconditional Anti-Fan posts are not open to debate. Only comment on an Unconditional Anti-Fan post if you are also an anti-fan. And like a Conditional Fan post, a Conditional Anti-Fan post is open to debate if the comments are well considered and polite. An Unconditional Anti-Fan post only wants to share negative comments. Your love of the topic isn't welcome there.

Bottom line: comments are there for the support of the poster. If the poster requests a debate and you can give them one respectfully, and you feel that you are supporting the poster by doing so, then by all means go ahead and comment. If there is any doubt in your mind that your comment may not be supporting the poster, keep it to yourself or create your own separate post.

This is Social Media 101 - I shouldn't have to say it. We've been doing this long enough. This stuff should be second nature by now.

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1 comment:

  1. I often make unconditional fan posts about how great my husband is. I'm a big fan. I don't expect anyone to comment on my fan posts about any reason they don't agree with me. I might make an exception for friends who want to respectfully fan post about their own partner to suggest that theirs is better. They are wrong, but we can agree to disagree on the levels of awesome that our favorite people are at. Otherwise please just jump on my bandwagon and agree that my husband is wonderful.
    Thank you for joining my TED Talk.