There was a time when I would turn to fandom to get away from the real world. That’s supposed to be the purpose of escapism, after all. It’s not just about sticking your nose in a book, binging a TV show, or playing a game to get away from the news or your dysfunctional family. There have always been like-minded individuals who just want to talk about the thing we all like. Over the past 10 years, I’ve lost that. Everything is a hot mess, and there is no escape. The trolls and ideologues have taken over. You can’t relax and have fun. On top of having to justify why you like something, you have to battle people who also like that thing. There are apparently many wrong ways to enjoy something, and wrong reasons for liking or disliking things.
Everything is a Hot Mess and There is No Escape
I have largely abandoned most fandom due to the toxicity. This allows me to still enjoy things. I can discuss things with friends, rather than taking my opinions public on social media. For camaraderie I’ve turned to the writing community, fellow scribblers who seem to have a higher level of empathy and a lower tolerance for bullshit. I have watched the sort of people who rapidly took over the fandom in my publishing niche be quickly and unapologetically be bounced out of writer spaces. I’ll go out on a limb and say that’s because there are more women and people of color in authorial circles, where my old niche still has problematic white guys out-shouting everyone else.
The writing community is also a more professional space, although in places that’s unraveling. Claire Ryan has written a fabulous piece explaining the implosion of the Romance Writers of America, an important trade group for people creating in that genre. You need to read this, because it’s mind-blowing. It starts with the acceptance of racism as a mere difference of opinion. It ends with people who have no backbone being catastrophically owned by people who are willing an able to stand up for ethical principals.
Fallout follows the predictable pattern: people are walking back things that they put into writing, or claiming that their clearly troubling statements were misinterpreted. Others are being accused of having an agenda, manipulating events to get what they want as if this was the Reichstag fire. Many who shouldn’t apologize are, because they’re decent people trying to do better and fix the problem. People that need to own their garbage aren’t and are working overtime to fix the blame, which never lies with them.
This is why I sit quietly in my kitchen, ignoring the world as much as possible, writing.
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