Welcome to another chapter of lessons on Geek Anthropology. Today we’ll explore fandom identities within the different fandom communities. As you know, humans have a different set of identities depending on the social groups that they move into. For example, we tend to be different among friends, family and online. Thus, it is not a surprise to discover that we also might have different fandom identities depending on the different fandom communities we are used to be engaged with. We might have one fandom identity or several depending on the type of fans that we are.
Many times identity comes from comparison. For example, Trekkers might refer themselves as so and use tees to display their status as fans, thus displaying their Trekker identities. While doing so, they might also engage in comparing themselves with Star Wars fans stating the differences between the two fandoms and pointing out at the positive aspects, better traits and achievements of their fandom. In doing so, their fandom identity is reinforced while making the sense of belonging to a fandom community or fandom family stronger.
People engage in sharing experiences related to their chosen fandom. Thus they tend to perform identity within the community. Think about conventions, for example. At Cons, people can easily display their fandom identity. In doing so, they can also share experiences with other members of the fandom community.
However, we must remember closet fans. These are fans that enjoy their fandom in secret or that might use nicks to interact with other fans online. This means that we cannot just think about fandom identities as those that perform publicly in whatever way. People who might show no sign of having a fandom identity might have one, but express it in a private way or digital way only.
While it is true that public performances help fandom identities to get stronger and fandom communities to be different from one another, it is also true that the digital ground has enabled sharing and performance in a comfortable and quite a private level.
So it is logical to conclude that fandom identities are as complex as any other identities that we have in throughout our lives. We can be a writer, teacher, good son, terrible husband, awesome potterite and clumsy Trekker all at the same time! How we decide to express our identities, in which degree and how we decide to perform them offline and online is our unique signature.
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