Hey there, SISters!
It’s finally September! After a much turbulent August, we are quite over our trauma of churches and have started our official countdown to the premiere of Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe’s movies, besides, of course, the end of Droughtlander on February 2020. But not everything is cause to celebrate and joke about.
If you are familiar with fandoms, you must know what they have best, like friendship and the exchange of information, but also the worst, like the little groups who exclude everyone else and the bullying (worst case scenario). And that’s what we want to talk about.
Fandom bullying is the name given to recurrent acts of intimidation, aggression or ridicularization among members of the same fan community. When we talk about TV shows and movies, it’s common to see actors and even production people involved, either practicing or suffering these actions. The Outlander fandom, unfortunately, is no exception.
There are several reasons for explaining this type of behavior, but the most common may be the difficulty in dealing with different personalities and opinions. Offenses and intimidation, in this case, are ways of silencing a person or group. And here is where it’s important to differentiate criticism from offense, as well as disagreement from intolerance.
Yes, because in any community with thousands of people there will be numerous points of view, beliefs and preferences. You don’t have to agree on everything and it’s okay to express it. As long as you respect those who disagree with you. If a disagreement becomes grounds for threatening, stalking, inciting hatred and even lying about another person, then you must stop and think about it.
Why does something that displeases you arouse such strong reactions? How hard is it to just ignore it? What is it about this someone (often a stranger) that is capable of consuming so much of your energy? Is it really worth it?
It’s not only the bullying victim who needs suports, also the aggressor must seek help. But for that, he/she/they need/needs to recognize it.
Shippers and content creators, especially writers of fanfics, are often the main target of attacks. That doesn’t mean they can’t be on the other side, but the many times they go through this has led to the creation of a campaign called Ships Alliance. Launched in July, this initiative aimed to raise money by selling T-shirts to support bullying institutions.
The idea started with actor Sachin Sahel (Eric Jackson of The 100). After years of being in a fandom and following discussions between the main couple’s shippers and non-shippers, he decided to raise this flag, which was supported by other artists.
According to Sachin, the idea was to create a safe space so that people could “love what they love and let others do the same”, rescuing the fun and respect within these groups, which should always serve for this: to have fun and relax.
He himself admits that he saw shippers with a certain bias initially, because of a portion that attacked the actors and people close to them. Until he realized that this wasn’t a problem restricted to a group and that it was possible to “ship” in a healthy way, without aggression. Just as someone who admires and cheers for two people doesn’t deserve to be attacked or insulted for it.
When you are very fond of something, it’s only natural to get involved and even irritated by a comment or decision that seems wrong. But first, it’s important to realize that what doesn’t seem right to you isn’t necessarily wrong or something done without a reason. Especially when it comes to personal choices. And second, there are many ways to express dissatisfaction, no matter how legitimate it may be.
Verbal aggressions are not only opinions, much less constructive criticism. Going on someone’s profile to intimidate, mock or intrigue it’s not exercising your freedom of speech. Suggesting the resignation of a pro because you didn’t like the clothes of an actor or actress, as happened recently on Dora’s Instagram after the second day of the Toronto Festival, is not a “friend tip”. It’s ego, immaturity, lack of empathy. Depending on the case, these attitudes can configure even as a crime.
Words have power. And consequences.
It’s easy to forget about it when you’re angry, especially on the Internet, when you don’t see each other face to face. The possibility of using fake profiles or anonymous messages to attack a person (famous or not) also encourages this type of action. Suddenly, it is as if no one is responsible for what is being said, but it does not change the impact of what is said or the fact that the words remain and they echo even after the anger has passed.
The World Health Organization released a new report on Tuesday (10), on World Suicide Prevention Day, showing that this is the second leading cause of death among the 15-24 age group, the ones who spends the most time online. Anxiety and distortion of reality are some of the most frequently diagnosed problems that can be triggers for more drastic attitudes, including suicide.
So in this Yellow September, SIS makes a wish: if you have the option of spreading love or negativity, choose the first one. If you can make the fandom experience lighter for you and the people around you, do so. And take care of your mental health. The world is already too heavy, but our choices can increase or decrease that weight.
To read this post in Portuguese, click here.
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Author: Camila Miranda
Collaborators: Beatriz Labruna
Images: Catarina Balfe
Arts & Memes: Catarina Balfe
Formatting (text): Thaís Belluzzo
Proofreader (Portuguese): Thaís Belluzzo
Translator: Bianca Cuglovici
Proofreader (English): Bianca Portela
Compiler: Carolina Ramires
SM: Carolina Ramires