Why do we stay involved in our various groups? Sometimes I think it is inertia. I know that at least once a month I look at the idiots on social media and think about walking away. Then I want to ask a friend a question and log onto FarceBook to ask them. Two cute puppy pictures and an argument with someone who is a political idiot later and I’m back.
I think most of us probably do this. Oh, our reasons for doing so vary. One person whom I believe to be a mental defective stays because he thinks it a marketing tool. The only tool involved being him. If you think you know who I am talking about you are probably wrong, there are thousands of them. Another stays because his family is scattered and it is the only way to keep in touch with them. Somehow he never realizes that the reason they are scattered so widely is that they are all real pieces of work and need the space to keep from killing each other. Your reason for not giving it up is probably something else.
Age is another factor I think. So many of our younger people feel the need to be involved because it is the hip thing to be connected. a lot of elderly are in social media because they are too infirm to go visiting, the web keeps them from feeling isolated. Those who are neither old nor young are getting something else out of it or they participate only lightly
What do we get out of it? Well mostly fun, for some values of fun. Many of us, especially the socially inept (pretty much defines fans eh?) find it the only way to have a social life. Others are here for the arguments. Some of my friends swear I’m in it for the opportunity to snark.
Fandom is also populated for similar reasons. The chance to find people to talk to or argue with. Go to any con and you will find people arguing the relative merits of their favorite/most hated authors. Or whether an author’s personal failings (failings in the eye of the beholder) should have anything to do with whether or not you read them. As long as it is fun it is all good. Sadly the fun is going away from a portion of SF. The SF of books, I hesitate to say literary SF because it has connotations, is dying. I think it is because the fun is going away.
A little story from my personal life will illustrate what I see as the problem. Mumblety-mumble years ago I joined the SCA in the Principality of Drachenwald. For me it was all about having fun. The Principality was almost all under 40 and wanted to party and enjoy ourselves. Almost everyone was happy. Then as my life proceeded I ended my time in the military and was returned to the states. There I joined the Middle Kingdom and found that it was different. I might have just hit an unlucky string of folks, but they wanted seriousness. “One really shouldn’t be a member unless one specializes in a discipline of medieval life or society” types. Enough encounters with that type and the fun goes away.
When the fun went away so did I. Now I am looking at Fandom and seeing some of the same thing. I see those whose SF must be socially relevant and uplifting. I see others who believe that SF that doesn’t improve your relationship with the deity is false SF. I see others who believe that there should be a hierarchy of fans and you must be a peon until you work yourself up. Losers trying to become SMOFs and others trying to say that some author or another will disapprove of you unless you toe whichever line now. This is why book Fandom is growing old and bitter. Sadly all the fun has moved to comics and movies where the young people are.