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The Woes of Fandom Unraveled

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Thank you in advance to anyone who spares a moment of their time to hear me out.

Dan Schneider has been the mastermind behind my entertainment via television on Nickelodeon since I was 5 years old. His sense of humor has qualities that are able to appeal to a large, diverse audience, and that provide a healthy dose of laughter to millions of people. Each of his projects earn a respectable amount of success, and many who work with him (cast and crew) seem to display positive attitudes about the experiences they have, although they must work frequently and diligently to do their part in creating a finished product that pleases both a network and its target audience.

It has come to my attention that the growth of the internet as a resource, and its role in how cast, crew, and fans of Dan's shows interact, has affected the viewer experience in many ways, both positively and negatively. It has allowed for fandoms to expand beyond the limitations of physical location, and there are many methods of expression fans can use to share their thoughts and feelings about the programming they are consuming with a huge audience that gives them reason to do so. Also, it has given fans the opportunity to feel more intimately connected with the process of a series' creation and the people involved in it rather than only being familiar with the finished product. These are magnificent gifts, but they do not exist without repercussions.

The larger a fandom grows, the more opportunity there is for tension to also grow. Wherever there are more people, there are more thoughts, feelings, values, opinions, etc., and any one fan is just as likely to run into another fan who loves some of the same things they love about a show as they are to run into another fan who has opposite tastes. There wouldn't be a problem if it ended there and everyone gave more attention to what other members of the fandom have in common with them than what they do not. Unfortunately, part of taking on the role of a fanatic often entails a certain passion that, when paired with strong thoughts, feelings, values, opinions, etc., increases the urge to promote and/or support a view as superior to others. [I am guilty of carrying this attitude, and I'm not proud of it, but I'm also nowhere near alone].

This attitude does not only lead to emotionally-heated drama between individuals and small groups, or larger divisions in fandom that get labeled as wars. It also contradicts the purpose we have for viewing our chosen series and how everyone who puts effort into its creation would hope for it to benefit us. The primary goal behind the shows Dan creates, or any comedy, is entertainment. It is meant to be a pleasurable experience that offers positive emotions. A fandom is there to enhance this experience, and prolong it, by allowing fans the opportunity to get further lost in their favorite universe with others who understand them.

When disagreements turn into arguments, and each side is unrelenting, many are disconnected from the goal of their being here, and it's usually in vain. The issue is that sometimes it seems like it is not enough to simply be allowed to express ones ideas and find others who support them. People want to go the extra mile, find and destroy ideas contrasting their own, and gain more support for their idea. The reason I say this is in vain is because, when it comes down to it, if the goal is entertainment, then however one achieves that goal is personal to the extent that telling someone they must try to enjoy it another way is meaningless. [If your favorite fruit is an apple, and a friend's favorite fruit is an orange, forcing apple slices down their throat isn't going to suddenly convince them they enjoy the taste of the apple more.]

Having and expressing an opinion, or even discussing opinions that are different from one another, is not a problem. The problem comes with how a person chooses to express an opinion and the reaction it sparks in others. For example, opinions that come off as the most offensive often use insults, and the real opinion is actually hidden behind those insults, because the insults are labels that get assigned based on more specific criteria that goes unexpressed. Additionally, attempting the invalidation of someone else's opinion is common behavior, but unless another opinion can in some way affect your ability to have and act based on your opinion, doing so has no justification or reward.

Anyone can love or hate Dan, the actors who work with him, and/or the shows or any part of their content. Anyone can make a statement or start a conversation that covers their reaction to any of the former. However, I would like to be joined in an effort to improve how we communicate with one another, and get us back closer to remembering the purpose of why we seek bonds with others through fandom.

I pledge, from this moment forward, that I will only respond to the opinions of others whom I disagree with in a manner that seeks information to better understand those opinions, and not in a manner that distracts from the purpose of watching a television show and participating in its fandom.

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