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Fandoms: What They Are And How To Get Into It (Or Not)

July 5, 2019

If you’ve been online anytime in the past few years, you’ve probably seen the word “fandom” somewhere

Of course, if you’re like most, you might already associate the term with geek culture. Maybe you envision guys playing Dungeons and Dragons, or nerds who dress up and roleplay about their favorite movies. 

But there’s a lot more to fandom culture than that. Chances are, you’ve already participated in a fandom at least once. So, what does the word “fandom” actually mean, and what’s it like to be involved in one?


What is a Fandom?

First off, “Fandom” is essentially a way of saying “fan culture.” A fandom is a community or subculture of fans that’s built itself up around one specific piece of pop culture, such as a book, movie, video game, comic, music group, sports team, etc. This community of fans shares a mutual bond over their enthusiasm for the source material. 

While fandoms typically include consumers who actually go out and purchase the source material and its various offshoots (action figures, posters, supplemental books, etc.), fandoms can also be composed of fans that actively participate and engage with the source material through creative works. This may include posting fanfiction and drawings or making songs or videos about the original work. People might also dress up as the characters of the source material (also known as “cosplaying”), or even act out original scenes.

How do you get into a fandom?

There’s an insanely wide variety of fandoms available, and they come in a wide range of types—so it’s all about finding the place where you fit in. Chances are, if you’re excited or passionate about a specific piece of pop culture, you probably won’t have much trouble finding a fandom based around it. 

Within any fandom, there are many opportunities to get involved. Online, you can create original works related to the pop culture you love, or you can simply share others’ works that you enjoy. You can post on social media about your favorite moments from a TV series or movie, or participate in web forums about it. Offline, you can often find meet-ups for fans in larger cities, including venues that host all-night parties for the finale of a popular show or movie series, or conventions based around a specific series or genre. Plus, if you’ve ever gone out tailgating or out to a bar during football season, you’ve essentially participated in America’s largest fandom: the NFL. No matter what you’re into, it won’t be hard to find something that sparks your interest!

The truth is, if you’re at all interested in any aspect of pop culture, you’ve probably already been involved in a fandom—whether you’ve realized it or not. From here, it’s just a matter of how much of a fan you are, and how deep you want to go. But most fandoms are welcoming of like-minded newbies, rewarding enthusiasm with energy. So don’t be afraid to jump in if your curiosity’s peaked!

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