I posted this picture on Twitter a couple days ago. It was a perfectly innocent post. I thought living in a house with a nigh-ridiculously awesome collection of LEGO meant I owed it to the world to share the LEGOodness.* The super-fun hashtag #ISupportTrebuchets had been making the rounds among my geeky friends. I took this pic specifically to amuse those folks. It did work, but whoo-boy, did it touch off a firestorm I wasn’t prepared for!
Pretty crazy, right?
Okay, not that crazy if you know Doctor Who fans, like, at all. We can be a very left-brained, opinionated bunch. We tend to have STRONG opinions on EVERYTHING. Yes, even (perhaps, especially) where to shelve DVDs.***
But I’m not here to make fun of us. Instead, I’d like to point to that exchange as a great example of a fandom operating well. Every fandom has internal disagreements, but not every disagreement needs to turn into a Great Schism. I feel very strongly about the stance I took in the Great Shelf War Debate, and I know some of the folks on the other side(s) felt just as strongly.
Now look closely. If you’ve ever watched (or took part in) one of the stereotypical fandom forum debates, you might notice there’s something missing here. That’s right! There’s no animus, no name-calling (at least not of the serious variety). What you get instead is a lot of joke-making and good-natured teasing.
THIS is what fandom should look like.° I honestly and truly do get anxious thinking about Lost in Time being in the “wrong” place on the shelf,°° but that doesn’t mean I’m going to descend immediately to ranting, personal attacks, and subtweet-style backbiting. There’s no need for that nonsense. Ever.
I don’t think any of us convinced any of the rest of us that we were right and they should change their shelving system. That’s okay. What we did do was spend time and energy discussing the minutiae of something we love. Yes, it’s a pretty silly topic when you think about it, but it means something to us. And we had a rather hilarious conversation about it in which we A) explained our reasoning for our choices, B) disagreed in a friendly manner, and C) had a good time doing it. I honestly think this particular “war” brought the participants closer together instead of driving us apart.
I realize that it’s trickier to follow this model when the topic of discussion is something more weighty–like a companion’s portrayal or one of the “-isms”, but I still think there’s value in looking at this as a standard to try to meet.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that I’m proud of my friends, and I’m honored to be a part of such a supportive and creative community. Even if some of them have some pretty crazy ideas about where to put their DVDs.
And also, trebuchets rule.
*Yeah, that’s dumb. I couldn’t help myself. Sorry.
**I wanted to embed the tweets here so you wouldn’t have to click away to read them, but apparently WordPress.com doesn’t allow that. Lame.
***For those of you who, like me, didn’t know what Lost in Time was, it’s a DVD set that collects bits and bobs of some of the incomplete and missing stories from the first and second Doctors’ runs on Doctor Who.
°In my totally biased and not-so-humble opinion.
°°Thanks brain chemistry!