My ‘Golden Rule’ of Fandom, Shippers and Privacy

For a long time I wanted to stay out of the whole discussion that’s been raging on Twitter and other social media sites these past few days. And I won’t really get into the whole Shipper vs Non-Shippers debate now either, so the title of this post is a bit misleading. Clickbait, maybe ;-) ?

I’ve been a shipper of fictional characters in books and TV shows as long as I can remember (Anne & Gilbert, Laura & Mr. Steele, Dr. Mike & Sully, Meredith & Derek, Claire & Jamie, Beth & Henry…). I have been or still am rooting for those couples to get together or stay together and have re-read or re-watched and analysed scenes and spent quite some time online on message boards or now Twitter discussing the various aspects of the respective relationship or what I want their relationship to be and so forth.

As such a “fictional-characters-shipper” the concept of “shipping” real people, as the term seems to be defined in the Outlander fandom these days and all the dissecting and analyzing of Cait and/or Sam’s words and actions, that comes along with it, is still is a very foreign concept to me.

It’s not that I’m not interested in their or any of my stars’ private lives. I would lie if I’d say that, because of course, I am interested. I care about them and I want them to be happy. I’m also a bit curious by nature. I try to not seek out any personal / private information on purpose and I try stay off gossip and papparrazzi sites. But if I read something about star A being seen with someone watching a sports game or star B being seen holding hands with someone in town X, I might click the link or google said person(s). I might google star’s name + girl/boyfriend or person’s name together.  Or go through the stars “following list” on Twitter / Instagram trying to figure out if said someone is on that list.

But in the end, after having done that – and now I’m quoting one of my favourite TV characters – I will “just think my private thoughts”. And of course feel my private feelings. Thoughts and feelings like “Awwww, they are adorable” or maybe even “Mmmh, really? But ok, if he/she makes you happy, go for it”.

My point is: I keep these thoughts and feelings about my stars’ private life to myself! Or maybe in a rare chance might mention them offline (or in a text or private message) to a friend. But I would never take the time to write lengthy tumblr post or facebook or Instagram comments about it or to publicly analyze states of a relationship or to discuss who was seen where with whom doing whatever or weigh in on any of the personal information that’s gotten on my radar.

Because when it comes to the question of how to act or behave in regards to artists I admire and care about I try to live by this simple rule of thumb.

“How would I myself feel, if I were in their position?”

Or in more eloquent words: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”

It’s so simple, really.

Because I would never ever want someone I don’t know personally, to publicly – and everything on the internet is a public forum after all – discuss my love life. Or momentary lack of one ;-). Just like I don’t want the neighbours living at the end of my street or coworkers I merely know or random people on the street to loudly chat to each other about who I might or not be going out with. Hey, I often don’t even feel comfortable to answer these questions from relatives I rarely see. Because I feel like it’s none of their business. And it’s definitely not the business of any random person anywhere online or offline.

Hence I often feel really uncomfortable reading tweets or posts which are discussing the private lives of artists I’m a fan of. Or of any artists, really. If I don’t care about a celebrity I just ignore the stuff, but if it’s someone I care about, I get protective very quickly. And no, I don’t think that’s something you just have to live with as a celebrity. Because first of all they are fellow human beings and deserve the same courtesy I personally expect to receive from anyone else as well.

I’ve lived a happy, carefree fan life with this “privacy policy” so far and I only sometimes feel like a hypocrite, when in a flash of curiosity I do search for some personal information ;-) . But as long as I don’t discuss and analyze the tidbits I might stumble across, I think and tell myself I’m doing fine.

Is there a point to this post? I don’t know.

I’m keeping a low profile on the fringe of the Outlander fandom these days, because some campaigns or events or discussions and even people just feel too intense for me. I don’t want to get dragged down to the cess pit of discussing things I have no business knowing about in the first place. Recently I’ve seen more and more of these discussions, followed up by arguments/fights about the value of the topic and that’s a meta-level I don’t want to spend time on either. I know there must be thousands more like me who just don’t care about this stuff, but as they most probably keep a low profile just like me, all we seem to be left with are topics I’m rather tired off.

I’m glad that at least on my Twitter feed there seems to be a shift towards leaving all the recent drama behind. And as long as I stay off tumblr, which I very rarely pay attention to anyway, I think I might be able to continue my happy care-free online existence in this Outlander fandom after all.


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One Response to My ‘Golden Rule’ of Fandom, Shippers and Privacy

  1. Ruby says:

    I love this post. Thank you for writing it. I too would be lying if I said I didn’t care AT ALL about stars’ private lives. Naturally, I’m interested. But to discuss and dissect someone’s private life online, when that someone has said that they want their private life to be private (as opposed to, say, a Kardashian whose bread-and-butter is making people care and talk about their private life).

    When an actor or artist has said they want to have a boundary around their private life, I don’t see how any self-identified fan can think it’s OK to speculate about their sex life or their reproductive decisions (which happens A LOT in OL shipper fandom). Or make up stories about what they do or do not do on their vacations or weekends or whatever. Maybe I’d be more understanding if there were plausible deniability, but these are people who have said explicitly that they want to have privacy.

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