Toxic fandom is becoming a big problem. It seems like every day we hear a new story about some fandom taking things too far and becoming hateful. Sure, as fans, we are passionate about what we love, and there’s nothing wrong with having strong opinions. But it is exactly that love for things that necessitates that we take a look at our actions and ensure that we are not being a non-toxic fan.

Toxic Fandom and How to be a Non-Toxic Fan

Toxic fandom isn’t new, but the ease of communication and sense of anonymity the internet provides makes it much more prevalent. With social media, it’s easier than ever for fans to directly interact with the creatives that produce their favorite material. That’s not really a good thing. Consider lately all the news about people being pushed off social media by fan toxicity.

Kelly Marie Tran is a perfect example. Tran was one of the stars of THE LAST JEDI, and seemed genuinely thrilled to be a part of the STAR WARS community. However, STAR WARS fans were less happy. They didn’t like Rose Tico’s role in THE LAST JEDI and attacked Tran for it. With so much hate, focusing on her looks and her ethnicity, Tran left social media. Fans ruined her happy experience.

non-toxic fan
Image Courtesy of Michelle Spies on Twitter.

Tran is by no means the only celebrity this has happened to; you can find countless stories about celebrities being attacked by toxic fans. Fans also attack other fans. Consider toxic shipping and how problematic that can be. With so much hate swirling around the world of fandom, it’s not a fun time to be a fan.

That’s where we come in. The vast majority of fans are non-toxic. It’s just that toxic fans are a vocal minority. It’s time we as non-toxic fans take action and take back fandom from those who would ruin it. It might seem like it would be difficult to be a non-toxic fan in today’s age of negativity, but have no fear. Here are five easy ways to be a non-toxic fan.

1. Curate Your Content

On Tumblr (a hotbed of toxic fandom), it can be hard to escape toxic fans. But here’s the thing: you are in charge of what you see. The internet is a magical tool that, yes, allows toxic fans to bully and hate with greater reach than ever before. But it also allows you a degree of control over what you experience.

non-toxic fan
Image Courtesy of Tumblr user aggressivewastebin.

A good way to avoid toxic fandom is to carefully curate what you see. Utilize the tools at your disposal to eliminate toxic fans from your feed. On most social media, you have the ability to block individual users. If you see people who are being particularly toxic, block them! Remove their negativity from your experience. Mute specific tags that you know show up a lot in toxic posts.

More than that, you can curate a positive environment. Follow people who are positive. Check out trending tags to see what good things are happening. Remember, you are in control. If you want to have a positive experience of fandom, do it! Curate your content. Find what makes you happy and follow it. Find what upsets you and ignore it – or better yet, block it.

2. Report, Report, Report

Going hand-in-hand with curating a positive feed is removing people who promote negativity. The report feature is your friend! When you are removing negative people from your feed, you are curating a positive experience, and yes, that is a good thing. But you can do more.

non-toxic fan
Image Courtesy of Celeste Ng on Twitter.

Recently, Celeste Ng made a valid point about blocking, rather than muting, toxic Twitter users. Ng compared it to herd immunity: blocking people, rather than just muting them, “spares your followers from seeing the bile & prevents harassers from harassing them too.”

Ng makes a good point, but we can take this further. If we report toxic fans, we have a higher chance of them being removed from social media altogether. Removing them removes their power and their ability to spew the toxic fandom they represent. It’s like curing the disease. So if you see someone being a harasser, report! Remove them from their power.

3. Hold People Accountable

Fandom, whether we like it or not, is a community. We are all joined together by a shared love of a certain material, be it a movie or book or video game (what have you). Sometimes, this is a great thing. There’s a comfort in knowing you are not alone in your love of things. It can be fun to discuss things you love with people all over the world and feel a part of something larger.

non-toxic fan
Image Courtesy of Tumblr user gutgemacht.

However, other times it’s not great at all. When toxic fans open their mouths, suddenly it’s not so fun to be connected with them. It’s tempting to turn away, ignore it, and hope that no one ever asks you your opinion on the matter. However, to be a non-toxic fan, sometimes you can’t turn a blind eye. Sometimes you have to hold your fellow fans accountable.

A good way to be a non-toxic fan is to call people out. When you see someone in your fandom being toxic, say something. Tell them why they are wrong. Try to change their minds. Obviously, you’re not always – or often, even – going to be successful. But speaking up is a good way to try.

4. Promote Positivity

Being a non-toxic fan isn’t just about eliminating negativity! There’s a lot of room to promote positivity as well. If you’re not comfortable with the other suggestions on this list, this one might be for you. What can you do to promote positivity?

non-toxic fan
Image Courtesy of Hollanders4life on Twitter.

If you’re a creator, create nice things! Are you a fanfic writer or fanartist? Share what you create! Do you like to review media or create analysis posts? Go for it! Share your theories or thoughts! Create positive things and flood the fandom with them. With so much good, there won’t be as much room for negativity. Plus, the louder we are, the more chance we have of drowning out that vocal minority.

Even if you’re not a creator, there’s a lot you can do to promote positivity. Share things that others have created. Spread their message as far as you can. Support the creatives (whether those who create the media or other fans creating their own work) who provide us with the material we love. It’s not enough to just stop negativity; if we want to make fandom non-toxic again, we need to be positive, too.

5. Walk Away

At the end of the day, the best thing you can do is to know your limits. Yes, we have a responsibility as fans to promote a non-toxic version of fandom. It’s on us to hold our fellow fans accountable and try to remove as much negativity as we can. But we also have a responsibility to ourselves.

non-toxic fan
Image Courtesy of Sarah’s Scribbles by Sarah Andersen.

If, at any point, you find that combating toxic fandom is too much, walk away. Don’t let your experience of fandom sour you on the whole ordeal. You won’t be able to promote positivity if you’re so burned out from combating negativity. Eventually, you won’t even be able to enjoy the material that made you a part of fandom to begin with.

So keep yourself and your limits in mind. Know when you’ve reached your limit. Try to promote positivity, sure. Curate a positive experience and block those who would infect it. But when you reach your limit, just walk away. Don’t let yourself become toxic through too much interaction with toxic fans.

You Can Be a Non-Toxic Fan

Disclaimer: Obviously not all fans will be comfortable doing all these things! If you’re non-confrontational like me, for example, you might shy away from calling people out. My intention is not to guilt anybody into feeling like they have to do these things, but rather to give you hope that there is something you can do to be a non-toxic fan!

It can sometimes seem overwhelming to participate in fandom. Personally, I’m a part of some of the most toxic fandoms out there, and it’s disheartening to see so much negativity. But I’m committed to doing what I can to be a non-toxic fan. With these suggestions, I hope that you, too, see that you can be a non-toxic fan. Remember that you are in control. Fandom should be enjoyable. Let’s remember that, and bring it back.

One Comment

  1. Larissa

    March 16, 2019 at 3:54 am

    I find it ironic that the website wants to spotlight toxic fans while publishing articles like this one https://comicsverse.com/j-k-rowling-and-the-problematic-fave-time-to-cancel/

    Such articles encourage entitled attitude on the behalf of fans and yet this article decries such behavior as unacceptable.

    Reply

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