What’s a Fandom?

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“Fandom” refers to a group of dedicated fans who feel interconnected by their common interest in something, often forming a subculture. The term dates back to 1903 and has expanded to include various interests. Fans tend to be knowledgeable and engage in activities such as conventions, fan fiction, and art. The internet has made it easier for fans to connect and share their passion.

The term “fandom” is used to refer to collective fans of something such as a sport, a hobo, or a series of books. Typically, members of a fandom feel interconnected by their common interest, and a fandom can often be a subculture as well. Only the most devoted fans are included in a fandom, separating them from people who might casually enjoy the thing in question. The term is closely associated with both the fantasy and science fiction genres, with many well-known examples of each having very dedicated fandoms.

Though some people think the term came to life as Internet usage spread, “fandom” is actually an old word. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first recorded use was in 1903, to describe sports enthusiasts. Over the course of the 20th century, fandoms expanded to include people obsessed with particular bands, movies, movie stars, books, and hobs like model building. In some cases, someone might identify themselves as a member of multiple fandoms.

Members of a fandom tend to be very interested in all the details of their subject of interest. Many people, for example, may be “fans” of Star Trek, which means they enjoy the series and may be familiar with some Star Trek trivia. Fewer people could list every actor in the series, argue about continuity errors, or passionately argue that Picard was the better Captain. These fans will drink in all the information available about their hob and are often extremely knowledgeable. Their dedication also tends to make them an object of derision, with many people making fun of deeply committed fans.

Often times, members of a fandom connect with one another through things like conventions and zines. They may also organize games and lectures or compose artwork related to their hobby. Fan fiction and art are common among fandoms, and some people also compose music, make sculptures, or create tribute films and shorts. These activities indicate how passionate enthusiasts can become.

With the advent of the internet, many fandoms have taken an interest online. Numerous websites are built and maintained by committed fans of everything from Harry Potter to model trains, and these sites can create an extensive network with each other. Fans can gather information, join conversations, or post their original artwork and write in community forums. These sites have made it much easier for members of a fandom to connect, even if they never meet in the real world.

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