Fandom as Religion Part 5: The following is an excerpt from the editorial in Hippogryph Issue One, now available for download at DriveThruRPG. You can read parts 1 through 4 here, or buy the issue and read it in its entirety.
My enjoyment of things is not dependent upon the approval of others. While it’s fun to discuss movies, TV shows, books, and other things, that’s what my friends are for. It’s entirely possible to like a thing and not share your opinion of it on the internet with strangers. You will not die from a lack of validation.
For the past 10 years my players have all been “casuals”. We have a home game, which they passionately participate in. They are engaged players, know the rules, and enjoy the pastime. None of them follow the hobby or the industry on social media. Not one of them has ever been to a game convention. They don’t buy things, other than an occasional miniature if they’re starting a new character.
I have data to show that an active social media presence doesn’t affect my sales. Other writers and publishers have affirmed that this is true for them as well. When I change the frequency of engagement, the platform I use, or the way that use it, the number of books I sell remains steady. Other than a little fun, mixed with a lot of pointless drama and trolling, there is no benefit to participating in that aspect of fandom.
While conventional wisdom is that you need to be a part of fandom in order to have a successful career in a geek-adjacent field, a quick look around indicates otherwise. I enter into evidence the publishers and creators that have a minimal footprint in fandom. They aren’t social media other than to throw out a release notice, they don’t do conventions, and they tend keep a low profile personally. Some folks aren’t online at all. Others pop up when something new is released, then vanish once that cycle has run its course. Many that are online talk about everything except what they’re currently working on or promoting. Then, of course, there are those whose interactions with fandom work against them, generating missteps and public relations nightmares that do more harm to their careers than good.
At this point I’m satisfied with being a hermit. My love of science fiction, fantasy, and horror have not waned. I still read comics, and clearly I’m still involved with tabletop roleplaying. But I will not go near fandom with a ten foot pole. The toxic elements, the peddlers of orthodoxy, the fascists and trolls and edgelords have driven me away. They’ve helped me to realize that I do not need fandom to live a happy and fulfilling life. And neither do you.