Secondhand Fandom Syndrome (SFS), simply put, is a curious phenomenon in which someone who has never read or watched the focus of a particular fandom nevertheless displays signs of being in that fandom. Sometimes it's a mild condition; sometimes it's so extreme that the person is actually mistaken for a fandom member. And today, bouncing off Top Ten Tuesdays' fandom theme for this week, I'm going to detail five symptoms to help you recognize Secondhand Fandom Syndrome in yourself or your loved ones.
Friday 5s: Secondhand Fandom Syndrome Symptoms
- A significant number of the person's friends are in that particular fandom. This is both cause and symptom of SFS. One develops Secondhand Fandom Syndrome through constant exposure to a particular fandom. Then, once one becomes a Secondhand Fan, one tends to seek out true fans of the series (or other Secondhand Fans) as friends, which intensifies the syndrome, creating a cycle. The only ways to break this cycle? If the Secondhand Fan looses interest in the fandom or if they officially become a part of that fandom by reading the book, watching the movie or TV show, or playing the game.
- The person easily recognizes even not-immediately-obvious references to the fandom. There is an important distinction here. If someone knows that a Weeping Angel is from Doctor Who or that "girl on fire" means Hunger Games,
that just means they have some awareness of popular/geek culture. On
the other hand, if the person gets why someone else has tally marks on
their arm (and denies knowledge of why the marks are there) or if they know why a dam snack bar is hilarious . . . they're probably a Secondhand Fan (if not a full-on fan).
- The person attempts to make references to the fandom.
This might be to appeal to their fandom friends, or to make other
people think that they themselves are legitimately in the fandom.
Unfortunately, these references tend to fall flat because the person
making them doesn't quite understand everything behind the reference.
And even if the reference was done well, others still might not get it,
since they don't associate that person with the fandom in question. Such
is the unfortunate plight of the overly enthusiastic Secondhand Fan.
- The person reads, and may actively seek out, fanfiction or fanart for the fandom of which they're a Secondhand Fan. Like the friends in the fandom, this may be both cause and symptom, particularly in the case of fanfiction. The person encounters a piece of fanfiction and reads it, possibly without realizing that it is fanfiction. They enjoy it, so when they see another piece, they read that as well. Often, they may read the fanfics simply because the stories are written by friends whose writing styles they enjoy. Eventually, the person will become a Secondhand Fan, which means they will be even more likely to enjoy fanfiction and fanart for the series. (On a sidenote: this is super effective; it's basically what got me into the PJO fandom, and why I'm a Secondhand Fan of HP.)
- The person actively ships or otherwise has strong feelings regarding particular characters in that fandom. This represents a very extreme form of SFS. In most cases, although the Secondhand Fan enjoys the fandom, they do not have strong feelings about it. If one's SFS progresses to this stage, one should probably just join the fandom already if at all possible; it'll be easier all 'round.
Are you a Secondhand Fan? If so, of what fandoms? Do you know of any symptoms I missed? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)