I'm fascinated by what I tend to think of as the 'In or Out Game.' This is something I so often see taking place in various fandoms -- as well as right here at LiveJournal...
So what motivates it? (And what precisely is it?)
Let's take the imaginary case of Jane Doesmore, shall we?
So Jane Announces...
First off, let's talk about Jane Doesmore! Jane is our imaginary person who will represent several different actual people I've either encountered personally, or have had various friends tell me about. Got that? Very good!
Well, our Jane is very active in her personal fandom. So for fun, let's say that her general fandom is "Kukla, Fran and Ollie" (anyone around here recall that show?) -- and that Jane supports the OTP (one true pairing) of Kukla/Ollie. (Okay, I'm not sure that I can remember Kukla and Ollie, so I doubt most readers will. But I thought they'd make an amusing couple! They were puppets on a very old children's TV series -- and Ollie was a dragon! His full name was Oliver J. Dragon, to be exact... Though this show was on before I was born, it was award-winning. It received six Emmy nominations, winning one time -- in '52. And also won a Peabody for the outstanding children's program of 1949. By the way, for those who do recall the show, no offense is meant! Slashing Kukla/Ollie is entirely meant to be humorous. Okay?)
Anyway, let's get back to Jane! Now believe me when I say she can't possibly imagine either of these two 'characters' being slashed with anyone else! Well, come now -- how could Kukla not be slashed with Ollie??? (grin) If nothing else I'm sure you readers know at least one member of fandom who feels equally strong about their personal OTP -- right? (Some days I feel like actual wars are being fought over what character is paired with another! But frankly, that's another topic...)
Our Jane moderates lists (at Yahoo! Groups, boards and other similar places) -- and communities at LJ in support of her OTP. She's involved with Kukla/Ollie websites and webrings. Plus she writes her own Kukla/Ollie slash fanfic, and offers feedback to other authors inside the fandom.
Jane keeps her own private LiveJournal -- and she frequently references her fandom in her entries.
By the way, Jane focuses almost exclusively on this one fandom. (Jane believes that you have to remain true to one fandom to be a truly serious fan. Remember, I've discussed this attitude in a previous fandom-related entry...)
Because Jane's been in 'the thick of things,' she's familiar with the controversy and nastiness that often occur in fandom -- like most of us are. Of course, Jane's an 'expert' in her fandom field, so she considers herself to be the 'guardian' of Kukla and Ollie slash fandom. (She also tends to believe she's 'in the right' in any fandom disagreements -- and she doesn't seem to be unhappy when she drives out those fen she personally doesn't care to interacting with...)
Now Jane's has her fandom pretty much exactly the way she wants it -- and enjoys continually promoting it. We can figure that it's obvious that Jane has quite a bit of free time to spend on her fandom from all she's able to do -- right?
Well, I think that's great! After all, who wouldn't want to spend hours each day -- or each week -- devoted exclusively to one fandom?
You may know someone exactly like Jane! Or perhaps someone with many -- if not all -- of the characteristics of Jane. If you've been in any fandom for more than a few months, chances are strong that you know Jane Doesmore. (I've personally known several over the years...)
So, now we come to this question: Why is it necessary for our Jane to 'take a break' from her Kukla/Ollie slash fandom?
She's made an announcement about it in her LJ blog -- and perhaps at one or more of the lists (etc.) that she moderates, as well.
Heads up, Nik nk_seashore! I know you'll recognize what I'm about to describe here! I remember, Nik, when you told me about almost this exact scenario a few years back! (For any of you reading who don't know Nik, he's a long-time online friend and member of my LJ friends list.)
For the record, I'm not saying it's not the case that many of take 'breaks' from our fandoms from time to time. Sure we do! I guess what I'm actually speaking to is this need to announce to people both willing and unwilling to listen that Jane feels she needs to 'take a break.' Why not just take the break, Jane? Do people really need to be told about it? In some cases this appears to be an on-going theme. So let's say that Jane has done this several times in her LiveJournal over the course of three or four years, shall we? Every so often it seems that Jane simply has to announce the need for another fandom 'break.'
Okay, yes, I admit it! I, too, have been guilty of such announcements a few times myself! (smile) But in my case such announcements were usually made when Marilyn mistressmarilyn and I (who tend to serve as co-moderators) were actually going to be forced to be away from our fandoms. I do think there's a time and a place when members need to be informed that a moderator will be unable to maintain the status quo for a given list, board or website. (But, really, that's an entirely different situation...)
Returning to friend Nik, I recall he told me exactly me how he dealt with a friend and co-moderator announcing she was taking a 'break.' Nik said he offered her his support for her action -- and then posted to suggest other members at their list do the same. (He suggested support, mind you -- but no pleas for the woman to return at that time.) He further instructed members to take any and all 'problems' to him (and the other moderators) -- specifically so they wouldn't bother the woman who had posted announcing she was taking a break.
Personally, I think that's amazingly thoughtful and appropriate behavior from a fellow moderator. Don't you? Take all the time you need, friend-on-a-break. If you feel you need a break, then clearly you do! We'll carry on in your absence...
But Nik told me this was far from the response that his co-moderator friend was expecting! It was clear to him she'd been looking for people to jump in and discourage her from taking a break. It was obvious she didn't want anyone to calmly accept and support her decision. Rather, she wanted members to tell her it would be impossible for them to go on without her...
Does any of this sound familiar to you, readers?
Have any of you belonged to a fandom where a person (or persons) did something like this?
I can guess the answer is 'yes.'
Regarding my own involvements, I've been active in numerous fandoms during my many decades as an active fan. So what does this involvement mean, exactly, when speaking in terms of my life?
I can't imagine a life that doesn't include fandom, woven into the pattern of my days. But let's focus on what most people would refer to as my RL (real life)...
During my time as a fan I've lost both my parents -- and have had several other close friends and relatives die. After all, death is simply a fact of life.
I've also had personal health issues (that have included both hospitalization and surgery). I've had financial woes and job worries. Recently I mentioned the loss of two pets who were part of my family for more than a dozen years, and dearly loved. (These were but two among a slew of other pets I've owned and lost over time.)
So is any of this a big deal?
I'm sure that for every major negative life-issue I can relate, each of you reading this could easily turn around and match mine with a life-issue of your own. As I say, that's life. I'm certainly not the only one who has had bad turns along the road.
Or good! Life is also filled with loads of wonderful experiences! Good relationships, exciting family events, new homes, new friends, new and rewarding jobs, special recognition and on and on. Again, I'm sure you readers could happily match my list with your own positive experiences. (And being an optimist by nature, I easily believe my list of positive experiences far out-weighs the negative ones...) I find life to be a 'grand adventure' full of struggles and successes... (So kill me for being corny. I still believe it!)
This might sound like I've gone far afield from my topic, but honestly, I haven't. My point is that some of the things that happen in life have -- indeed -- forced me away from my fandom interactions. Occasionally for weeks -- or even months -- at a time.
And while fandom -- and being an active fan --is a very important part of my life, it certainly isn't everything!
But I need to mention something here! Yes, we who blog tend from time to time to say: 'RL is kicking my butt.'
For me, referring to RL (real life) as opposed to fandom involvement is something of a misnomer to begin with. My involvement in fandom is a very large and important part of my life! So I often find it hard to say where RL begins and ends. Yes, I still mention RL -- mostly in reference to my time spent online -- but there's nothing that's not real and meaningful to me about being in fandom...
Well, let's head back to discussing our friend Jane Doesmore! As I mentioned, Jane has made announcements about taking a break before. But now she's even thinking about taking a permanent break from her beloved Kukla/Ollie slash fandom!
I won't try to state how it works for others, but I will say I believe most of us have ups and downs with our fandom involvements -- for exactly the reasons I just mentioned.
We'll find we're needed by: Family, friends, work, school (and other education), church, neighbors, volunteer work, pets, housecleaning, gardening (and other chores), non-fandom hobbies and on and on.
Some days, weeks, months and even years we'll find we're able to be more -- or less -- active in fandom. It all depends on how things go with our schedules. Each of us will put our energies where we need to, when we need to.
But we'll get back to our fandom lives -- we always do, after all! And I can say that with authority. (Again, in my case we're talking decades as an active fan.)
As we noted before, our Jane has been fortunate to have a lot of free time to devote to her fandom. Good for her! It's really wonderful when you're able to focus on a fandom and stay actively involved and supportive. It's also terrific to be able to 'recruit' new people into your fandom. Our friend Jane has done all of this -- and much more! Plus Jane has put up with a lot of crap from certain people inside the Kukla/Ollie (and "Kukla, Fran and Ollie") fandom! She's been treated unfairly on occasion -- and even hurt by people she thought were friends. (Believe me when I say this happens to almost all of us who have ever been active in a given fandom. It doesn't much matter which fandom we're discussing, either.)
So Jane deserves a break! Doesn't she?
Damn straight she does!
So what's my problem with all this?
Well, for me, it's two-fold.
There's something about announcing this 'break' -- and the way it's announced -- that bothers me. It's annoying. It seems self-serving. Maybe it's because it seems like Jane does it to seek attention. And not because she really wants a break at all! Sound familiar? (Remember what I told you about Nik's experience. smile.)
Maybe it's because it seems that Jane simply wants others to spend time talking her out of taking a break. Or to tell her that the fandom (and the list, community, etc.) simply can't go on without her!
If Jane really is serious about needing a break from her fandom -- especially a permanent one -- then I have an additional set of misgivings. I need to admit that in recent months I've found myself really feeling sorry for some people I know who are very much like our imaginary Jane!
In my case I currently know a couple of Janes that I'm not very fond of. Regardless, I feel bad to see them unable to balance their life-issues with involvement in their fandoms!
Remember back when I wrote about my friend Eric? He was devoted to his fandom. You'll remember I mentioned how he felt I was less 'devoted' because of having such a variety of interests. Sadly, Eric left his fandom life behind when he graduated from college and entered the work world. As far as I know he's not at all involved in the fandom he previously loved so much. It's a shame! Eric's
annoying superiority aside, he really did know a lot about his fandom! And, frankly, I feel he had a lot to offer to that fandom.
Plus I personally do believe that most of us tend to become more reasonable and tolerant of others as we gain life-experiences -- which can only be a plus to the fandoms we're active in! (Believe me, it's a misconception that age -- getting older in other words -- makes people less able to be valuable and active fans. Some of us might have less time to devote to fandom on a day-to-day basis, but we'll make up for it when you start adding up the years we remain in fandom!)
Jane, even if I don't personally like you, I'd hate to see you leave your fandom! I believe it would be a genuine loss to the fandom. (What about poor Kukla/Ollie?)
By the way, readers, you never really have to say 'goodbye' to any fandom you've been active in, even when you move on to new interests and new fandoms! (And I should know!)
Well before I
Well, in this case I'm speaking of the habit of people who will delete their private journal or community. That's certainly just another aspect of the 'In or Out Game' -- don't you agree?
I've got friends who will often contact me to tell me how this or that person has 'threatened' to delete their LiveJournal. Surely anyone who has been around LJ for long has seen this...
And there are many who actually follow through on these threats and actually do delete!
While some of these people end up returning before their journal or community is permanently removed (and purged out of existence), others just delete away -- and never look back.
Just think of the loss!
You might finding it surprising I care about whether someone else deletes their personal journal or not, but I do! I can't help thinking of the hours and hours spent in writing it. I can't help feeling bad about the loss of both experiences and words. It's a great pity, as far as I'm concerned.
Yes, I do believe many who 'announce' their plan to delete (or just to quit blogging entirely) are also merely seeking attention. I figure they want members of their LJ friends list to jump in with comments that beg them to reconsider, etc.
Many such people seem to get exactly that, so I suppose there's really no harm in it. Hell, why should I be bugged if there are Janes who need to be petted and have their egos stroked? Again, what's the harm?
I'd certainly rather see people 'announce' they'll delete and then change their minds than to actually see them permanently delete! (And I think it's awful when an active -- or somewhat active -- community is deleted! That's terrible for the members who've joined and posted there...)
So there you have it!
People -- like our Jane -- who play the 'In or Out Game.'
You know, while it might be annoying to have them play with our emotions -- and only 'pretend' to be taking a 'break' (or to be leaving fandom) -- I decidely prefer it to those who actually go away!
Again, in my case it doesn't matter if Jane is my friend or not. I end feeling the same disappointment even when Jane is someone I don't particularly like. (smile)
There are a number of Janes out there right now who are moving on with their lives -- and leaving their fandom involvements behind. That's just wrong!
What these Janes should be doing is learning how to BALANCE fandom with the rest of their lives! (The way most of us have.)
Jane Doesmore could simply be a little less involved in her fandom! And she could learn to ask for -- and happily accept -- help from fellow fen. She could learn to bend a bit more! She could be more of a team player.
Sure, she might have less time for her fandom -- but she doesn't need to abandon it!
I've got a good friend who I 'met' through fandom. (Via both letters and online.) She really wishes that both Marilyn and I would come back to "Wild, Wild West" fandom and starting writing WWW fic again.
Guess what? Neither of us ever left WWW fandom to begin with. No, we're not active there now. But we still belong to lists, etc. And you never know -- we might be writing WWW fic again tomorrow!
Oh, the possibilities! So many fandoms, so little time...
I hope that Jane -- and people like her -- will realize that when it comes to fandom, you really can have your cake and eat it, too...
(And though we might all like to believe that we're indispensable to our fandoms, I'm sure we know that's not true! Fandoms -- like life -- will go on. No matter what! And I -- for one -- am very thankful that's true!)