For those of us who reside in the USA, it goes without saying that we are bombarded with some damn serious toxicity every day. TV. Film. Music. Social media. They all feature a lot of pissed off people who seriously want to Punch Nazis or Trebuchet SJWs. And while I wish I could say SFF fandom has been immune from this plague, it hasn’t been.
From the Rabid Puppies to the WorldCon scandal to author’s calling their fans names on social media, we have had our own fair share of discord and drama running rampant for a while now. Non-fandom issues permeating the once hallowed halls of fun entertainment, fragmenting the fans, turning what was once a place of acceptance into yet another place to fight over socio-political issues.
When I complain to friends that the toxicity in SFF is causing me to loose my interest in many of my favorite authors and favorite franchises, they always tell me to ignore it all, focus on the art not the artist. And I admit that sounds like great advice.
There is only one problem with ignoring the vitrol constantly coming from everyone? How can I do so when many of the new SFF offerings are basically depressing social commentaries I could just as easily find if I turned on CNN or Fox News. (Both tv stations I refuse to watch for those who want to know.)
Yeah, yeah, I know SFF has always had its share of social commentary stories. And I’m sure many authors have always had their difference of opinion with their fans over politic and social issues, but there was one major difference between the past and now: NO SOCIAL MEDIA. Which was actually a damn good thing in hindsight.
The reason I say that is because too many people (SFF authors included) spend far too much time online, on social media in particular, screaming out their disagreement, frustration, hatred, and death wishes for different groups. Not only is it souring many current readers, but it is running away new fans.
How can I assert this? Well, other than the sales numbers which are fairly negative, I’d say it is because I have teenage children.
My kids are the tech suave generation; the one where social media is a normal part of their everyday life; and I’ve watched first hand as their adoration and respect for different creators have evaporated once they followed them on social media. The vitrol their once favorite writers, artists, or actors constantly spew toward their race, their religion, their political leanings, or sexual orientation causing them to totally loose all respect for their former heroes.
It’s sad really. Who would have ever thought that SFF would come to this? A fandom which once embraced everyone no matter your geekiness, race, religion, sexual orientation, or political affiliation now has writers, artists, directors, publishers, actors, and many, many more professionals actively insulting, demonizing, and hating their own fan base on social media.
I mean, does anyone truly think it’s a good idea to tell your fans not to buy your book/watch your tv show or film because they might be a different race, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or take a different position on a political issue?
Just so you know: If you answered “Yes, it is a good idea to act like an asshole to your fans“, then please understand you probably are part of the problem, not part of the solution, and so I’m worried nothing I type will change your mind — though I hope I’m wrong about that.
For those of you who answered “No, we need to find a way to stop this madness” I have a bit of common sense advice: LESS ACTIVISM, MORE LOVE.
Yes, we should treat everyone (even those we disagree with) in the fandom with respect and love. Sure, we might not agree with them about this issue or that, but we do have one major thing in common: we love SFF fandom and do not want it to be destroyed. And if the hatred doesn’t stop soon, I’m afraid it is going to seriously damage not only my personal love for SFF but its future.
If that sounds a bit naive, corny, or whatever, I’m sorry. My religion teaches acceptance of responsibility, forgiveness, and to love your enemies. Plus, I am old enough to recall when the hippies around my hometown would always tell me the answer to all the world’s problems could be found in a simple song. And, yeah, I did believe them because they held up a peace sign at me instead of trying to punch me.