As time goes on and I spend more and more time around people that I would consider fanatics in their particular corners of fandom, I see that they are all essentially the same. Fanatical comic book fans are no different than fanatical bird keepers and they’re no different than fanatical action figure collectors or board gamers. They all have problems and their problems, almost exclusively, stem from their fanaticism.
In fact, I think that the biggest issue that I see across the board is that all of these people seem to have one and only one real interest in life. Fanatical board gamers only play board games. Fanatical bird keepers only keep birds. Their lives revolve around a single interest and they’re entire view of themselves depends on that interest. If anyone criticizes that interest, if anyone points out problems in that interest, the fanatics freak out and often attack the one making the observation because, for their lives to have any meaning, they have to make sure their interest is perfect.
If my favorite TV show goes off the air, I don’t freak out because I have other things to fall back on and I can develop other interests. The fanatic has nothing to fall back on. Their entire reason for breathing is that show and without that show, they might as well go kill themselves. I’m sure there have been some who have done exactly that. This is one of the major factors when it comes to people who are fanatically focused on a single interest. They put all of their eggs in a single basket and when the basket gets ripped out from under them, they can’t cope.
It’s even worse when someone points out that maybe these individuals are a bit too heavily invested in their particular fanatical interest because these fanatics can’t handle criticism either. Seriously, go over to the BoardGameGeek and even suggest that maybe buying thousands of dollars in board games a month might not be the best idea and then stand back, you’re going to get nuked by the fanatical fanboys who will desperately try to justify their fanaticism. Lather, rinse and repeat for any other fannish forum out there. The action figure people will do it, the MMO people will do it, the stamp collectors will do it, these people inhabit all of the forums because they can’t imagine doing anything but being completely invested in their chosen form of fanaticism.
Oh but wait, they might say, I’m a collector! No you’re not. Collectors don’t play with their collections. If you were a collector, 100% of your board games would be wrapped in plastic. Stamp collectors don’t lick their stamps and stick them to envelopes, the save and protect them in albums. You’re a fanatic with a flimsy excuse. I’m not trying to be insulting or unfair, in fact, fairness is exactly what I’m aiming for. You’re certainly welcome to buy as many games or books or comics or whatever as you want, it’s no skin off my nose if you play them or read them or just let them sit and gather dust. I just think it’s silly and I’m entitled to my opinions, just as you are entitled to yours.
For another thing, rational people don’t attack those who dare to criticize the things you live, even mildly. Fanatics do that. I’ve been attacked and insulted time and time again because I didn’t like the same games or the same movies or thought things ought to be done differently. Rational people can discuss disagreements and come to a consensus. Fanatics fly off the handle and attack those who can’t see the inherent “rightness” of their positions.
A while back, I said that I dropped the BoardGameGeek forums because there was no rational discussion to be had there. I also dropped virtually all of the TV-related communities on Google+ for the same reason. As time goes on, I find less and less affinity toward the fanatic and can find few people who aren’t fanatics in all the typical hangouts. Maybe they, like me, have given up on trying to find a worthwhile community because everywhere you look, it’s fanboys and fangirls and not just fans.
And that’s a shame because I, for one, miss being around people who enjoy the same things that I do.