When did fandom become religious cult?

I grew up in fandoms, I bounced from Buffy to Xena and found friends, fun and self-acceptance through fandom. It was a good place to be awkward in, a good place to try to find yourself, your interests and even your sexuality. That doesn’t mean that you agreed with every other person, or that all of you saw things from the same perspective, but somehow those differences only added to the feeling of family. You rallied together, strong as a group where as individuals you saw a lot of bullshit and felt often very lost. And you know that the thing you loved wasn’t the be all end all of interests or ways to spend your spare time, but it was the thing that resonated with you. Which also gave you an understanding for how others had a similar relationship with other hobbies. Maybe you yourself didn’t understand the joys of stamp collecting, but you still understood and respected having that kind of joy in something. So not only were you a family in your own fandom, but you understood the other families similar to yours that existed around you, and you appreciated them for what they offered other people.

Today though I’ve seen no fandom that looks, feels or acts like family for years. It’s taken on the shape of religion instead. It seems to be a deeply toxic environment where there is a lot of victimisation and hypocrisy. There is a canon and a fanon canon both must be held sacred. Or else you will suffer the consequences. People do not seem to care for each other, they call one another out instead. And people do not seem interested in sharing an experience, only to preach their own way of interacting with and loving the thing itself. It’s such a stark contrast to what I grew up with. It such a stark contrast to what I used to love.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just my own age that’s setting in. Which I know is a lie in itself, because the reasons my old fandoms felt like home were because people of all ages took part of the experience. Anyhow I can’t help feeling as if something has been lost. Worst part is that I don’t know how to retrieve it either.

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