A Beginner's Guide to Fandom: A Fangirl's Perspective

{September 20, 2009}   The Fandom/Twitter Saga Continues

In my last post, I explained how a misunderstanding between “Supernatural” fans and Twitter users caused a confrontation between fans using the #luciferiscoming hashtag and followers of P. Diddy using the #godishere tag, leading both to be banned from appearing on the Twitter Trending Topics list. While this was unfortunate, I felt like the publicity generated (as well as the continued use of the #Supernatural tag) was an overall positive example of the collective power of fandom to promote the show.

Misha Collins, a regular actor on the show with a large Twitter following, has continued to comment on the situation. I should note that his tweets are frequently sarcastic and silly, and his comments should be taken with a grain of salt. For example: he calls his Twitter followers “minions” and frequently references his plans to use them for world domination. Additionally, when P. Diddy started his #godishere rally, Collins challenged him to a cupcake-eating contest on horseback. Since the incident I previously described, Collins advocated Supernatural fans using the tags #pdiddyisscaredofhistv and #Twitterisafraidofmishasminions.

This BuddyTV article by John Kubicek has good evidence that Twitter banned these from their Trending Topics as well, since they do not appear on the list despite having enough mentions to do so. I’m going to come right out and say it: good for Twitter.

I’m the first person to admit I follow Misha Collins on Twitter; he’s hilarious. I also praise the Supernatural fandom for using Twitter to promote the show. However, these tags are not promotion; they represent a confrontation with P. Diddy and his followers that brings no real benefit to the show. In fact, there’s more potential for harm than for benefit because this kind of collective action amounts to a large-scale personal attack that fans shouldn’t be encouraged to engage in.

Twitter’s recently updated Terms of Service page makes it pretty clear it doesn’t condone personal attacks against other users, so Twitter is perfectly justified in banning these activities or even suspending users who repeatedly attack others. Think about it: if you’re doing something against the site’s policy, it’s not only harmful to you but to the cause you support. If other users see Supernatural fans being suspended for their online activities, how does that reflect positively on the show?

Kubicek sums it up perfectly:

“The lesson from this week is probably that while it is pretty darn funny, petty feuds and catty hash tags aren’t the way to go if you want Supernatural to dominate the Trending Topic list.”

By using its collective power to launch attacks on other users (even if it starts out as a well-meaning joke), fandom is wasting the technological potential a site like Twitter has to offer. Fans have the chance to reach a very wide audience, so don’t waste it by proving that every bad stereotype about screaming, crazy fangirls is true.

et cetera