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By Dillon O’Toole

Hello everyone, hopefully you’re all having a great start to the semester. I know for me personally, it’s nice to be back in person after being remote since the beginning of the pandemic. I hope I never have to take another class remotely again, and I hope we figure out a way to get everything under control so we can return to a sense of normalcy (I never realized how much seeing someone’s entire face helped me understand a conversation until it was taken away from me). While I could spend an entire article complaining about COVID and the pandemic, I don’t think anyone wants to read that. Instead, I want to talk about a rabbit hole of a thought process I went down this summer (because the pandemic has only increased my tendency to get lost in thought about meaningless topics). That rabbit hole has to do with fans, and no, I’m not talking about the thing keeping your dorm room cool. I’m talking about people like you, people who enjoy something, whether it’s music, sports, movies, etc. 

Have you ever considered what it means to be a fan of something? Chances are you have never spent a significant amount of time thinking about it. I know that I never spent much time thinking about it for the first 19 years of my life. Then the summer of 2021 came along and I have been thinking about what it means to be a fan of something since.  

The incident that started my journey down this rabbit hole was something I had seen many times before, a person complaining that a band’s new material was not good because it wasn’t like the early albums. Now, this is nothing that I haven’t seen before, but for some reason my brain couldn’t stop thinking about why someone who claims to be a fan of a group could hate everything the band has released in 15 years. When I thought about it further, most of the time this happens to a musical group (at least in my experience) the group’s first album was typically their biggest commercial hit. Two prime examples of this phenomena would be LINKIN PARK and Weezer, two groups whose first two albums are considered to be their best and who have a subset of “fans” who hate everything that isn’t those first two albums. It seems illogical that someone could claim they are a “fan” of a band but at the same time dislike the majority of the band’s music. I personally wouldn’t classify someone who dislikes the majority of an artist’s music as a fan of the artist. Instead I would classify them as someone who likes a specific song, album, or period of time in an artist’s career.

Supposed “fans” who dislike the majority of something isn’t just limited to musical groups and can be found in other forms of entertainment media as well. Case in point is the Star Wars fandom. While many fans enjoy the vast majority of the movies, there is a group of “fans” who refuse to acknowledge any movie made post 1983 as good (the year Return of the Jedi released). In the realm of video games, Call of Duty is notorious for having its “fans” (myself included) complain after every yearly release that the games haven’t been good since “insert any previous fan favorite title here”.  Can I and the many others who complain yearly about a new game really be considered fans? I myself no longer consider myself a fan of the franchise as I actively don’t enjoy many of the games released in the series.

Sports fans are another group of people whom I reconsidered whether or not they are really fans. This contemplation mainly revolved around my own self proclaimed fandom of teams. I only really closely follow one sport yet I claim to be fans of teams in many different sports. In my contemplation, I came to the conclusion that if I don’t even actively watch a sport I probably am not a fan, and instead I just have a preference for who to root for if I were to watch the said sport. 

As I conclude my thoughts in this article, I should specify that I don’t expect everyone to have the same mindset that I have developed. If you think you are a fan of something, what matters is that you think you are a fan.  I think the real purpose of this article has been to demonstrate that reexamining your worldview is an important thing to do every now and then, no matter how minor that worldview may be in the grand scheme of things. So the next time your mind starts to wander, let it wander down that rabbit hole of a thought process.

Thumbnail Credit: Hans Olav Lien, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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