You know something? Doctor Who fans are a funny bunch. They’re unique in their love for the programme yet a vast majority of them treat each other like shit. I’m constantly amazed by the seemingly dual personality that has developed in fandom in the years since the series returned. While I respect that everyone is going to have a differing opinion on things, what amazes me, and sometimes shocks me, is how vehemently vocal some of these fans are. There was such a time when one could freely express what one thought of some aspect of the television series and if someone did not agree with what you had said, they presented a well reasoned and thought out reply to your points. But sadly this seems to have all but disappeared in fandom of late.
Now instead we get scathing, rude, childish and sometimes fanatical and threatening replies to our opinions if they somehow minutely deviate from what is accepted party line in fandom. I don’t know how many times on forums like Doctor Who Online, the Doctor Who Forum, Gallifrey Base and countless others where a fan has expressed their opinion in a rational and sensible fashion, only to see it virtually ripped apart by some raving mad fan. Protestations of “how dare you say that”, or “are you some kind of nut” are bantered about, only to see the conversation get so out of hand that someone is threatening the other with bodily harm and verbal abuse. I don’t understand this.
Maybe it’s me and I’m getting old, but what is this ‘trend’ in fandom to bash and vilify your fellow fans? I just don’t understand this.
When I see things like this happen, it doesn’t upset me, it just amazes me how insensitive, rude, childish and dare I even say it, unhinged, some fans are. I mean, hey, it’s fine to disagree with something someone says, and I don’t expect all of us to have the same opinion on everything on all the time, but to reject that person so violently, and that’s the only way I can describe it because the abuse does resemble some form of violence, is not only rude, but it goes way beyond that. I have seen situations get so out of hand that some fans that have been on the receiving end of this abuse have left fandom because they were so horrified by these responses, and some have even reported receiving death threats.
Now before you say – “But Bob, do you know what you’re talking about?” – let me assure you I do. I have been on the receiving end of this sort of behavior not once, not twice, but several times, and even projects I’m involved in, like Whotopia and The Doctor Who Project, have been at the receiving end. In fact, without going into details, The Doctor Who Project was involved in a case a few years back where another fan fiction series launched a very public and very verbal campaign on a certain message board against the project. The abuse and false accusations against TDWP got so out of hand that it had turned to slander and harassment and it looked like it might have headed to court. Thankfully the threat of being taken to court, and a few friends in the right place, silenced the abusers.
You know, its all well and fine sitting back while this sort of thing happens to you, or to others, but it’s certainly not any fun when you’re on the receiving end. Events like that, and the sort of abuse that’s been hurled at other fans, really do make you wonder why you’re a fan in the first place. Many fans have found the answer and they leave fandom. And that pisses me off! What gives those abusers the right to treat other fans like that?
As far as I’m concerned it’s high time that this sort of behavior is stopped and no longer tolerated.