For years I tried to get a handle on explaining the phenomenon of “cottage cliques” — I call them this instead of “industries” because there is no money in the world of “Phenomena.” But little cliques come to surround a particular topic and they grow to clutch it and represent it to the media and public.
A friend of mine finally put it succinctly– “real life comic strip.” I’ve shared this with you before. It is very true. A subject and those players contained within it take on a life of their own and become some serial installment comic strip. Fans want new installments, but nothing that will ultimately change the franchise. It doesn’t matter if the subject is flying saucers, Bigfoot, or a heavy true crime case. New installments are welcome. Add more issues, but don’t change the stars. Don’t tell us Superman isn’t from Krypton. The fans will hate you if you do. DC will fire the writer and move on.
The same rings true in real life. If you reinvestigate a topic and try and make sense of the hype and hyperbole, and the end result is something far different than the folklore in popular culture, the cottage clique will ignore you at best. At worst they will attack.
I reiterate this here because I’ve learned a new slant on all this. A progression takes place, and being on Twitter for 2 weeks has introduced me to it.
Unlike Facebook, Twitter is dominated by public figures and celebs. Some of the celebs stick it out and combat with their trolls, especially those within franchises that have made them cultural icons. More than others they are familiar with the 3 step of “Toxic Fandom.” They are:
1, I love this.
2, I own this.
3, I control this.
At this stage the real life celebrity is a liability. Their existence challenges the alter reality of the franchise and questions the authority of the toxic fan. Toxic fans start trolling the stars on Twitter. It’s hard to follow the vitriol, but I learned something from it.
Those who investigate real life mysteries and popularized “phenomena” must beware of toxic fandom. Not toxic fans. They must worry that they themselves are toxic fans of a subject, but not a master of it. They must worry that they are controlling something they feel they own, but not really contributing to its solution or progression. They must worry they have come to love a mystery and want to be a part of it.
We must all beware of toxic fandom. One of the signs is wanting to wallow in the topic rather than progress and move on after contributing. How many of the popular mystery topics out there, from cold case to “paranormal” venues, is dominated by masters of the subject or by toxic fans who are there only to serve their love for the real life comic strip the subject has become?
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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.