Fangirl Thursday: Shared Joy Is the Best Joy

Today is the kind of day that reminds me why I love being a fangirl.

If you haven’t seen my next-level fangirling on Twitter, a new Once Upon a Time sneak peek was released today that sent a good portion of the fandom into the best kind of hysterics: gif-using, all caps Tweeting, I CANNOT HANDLE THE FEELS hysterics. In a not-so-shocking development, it turns out that Killian Jones loves Emma Swan. And he wants to give up the thing that’s protected him for 300 years in order to protect her now as she fights to defeat the darkness inside her.

Cue the happy “shipper” sobs (including my own).

Sometimes being part of fandom doesn’t feel like it feels today. Sometimes fandom can be stressful and downright depressing. Hateful words get sent under the cowardly cloak of Internet anonymity. People begin to subconsciously compare themselves or their fandom contributions to other fans. Words like “true fan” or “real fan” get thrown around to defend certain stances in fandoms. (Does a “real fan” always support the show/series/band/team? Or does a “real fan” look for reasons to criticize it?) Certain fans can begin to act entitled or superior or bitter. Writers and actors and athletes get torn down by “fans” on social media. “Ship wars” and ugly fights over favorite characters lead to all kinds of bad behavior.

Looking at it like that, why would anyone want to be a fangirl?

The answer: Because shared joy is the best kind of joy. And the driving force behind fandom—what exists when you take away the handful of needlessly negative voices—is shared joy and love.

One look at my Twitter feed from this afternoon would tell you everything you need to know about why I will always be proud to be a fangirl—even when fandom behavior can make me want to throw my computer out a window. The excitement I got to share with my fellow Once Upon a Time fans was something special, and it’s something only my fellow fangirls (and fanboys) would understand.

Fandom makes you feel less alone. It makes you feel like you’re not crazy for getting tears in your eyes when one character smiles at another (because she finally is able to let herself believe she’s loved!). It makes you feel like it’s okay to type in nothing but capital letters and exclamation points. It makes you feel like there are other people who understand what it’s like to find hope and happiness in the things that make you feel hopeful and happy. And if other people can understand that—then maybe, there are people out there who understand you on a deeper level than you thought anyone could.

And the beauty of fandom is that shared sense of joy and understanding is open to anyone who wants to be a part of it. Fan fiction writers, fan artists, and those who find happiness analyzing scenes and characters (like yours truly) will create things hoping to share their passion and emotions with others. But fandom isn’t just for those people. It’s for the people who share theories with their friends on Twitter or Tumblr. It’s for the people who comment on blogs and message boards big and small. And it’s for the people who might feel more comfortable lurking and not talking openly with fellow fans yet but who are still very much a part of the excitement.

If you go to visit the set of your favorite TV shows, go to all the games your favorite team plays, travel to concerts, or attend big fan conventions, that’s amazing. But it’s also amazing if you share in the joy from the comfort of your couch or bed or office. If you make a fan video inspired by your favorite couple, that’s amazing. But it’s also amazing if you watch that video and reblog it on Tumblr. If you send your favorite actor a gift, that’s amazing. But it’s also amazing to send them a nice mention on Twitter. Every fan contributes to their fandom in their own way. And every contribution has value.

I love watching other people experience joy. That’s why I love being a fangirl. No matter how frustrating it can be at times, I’ll always be thankful I chose the life of a nerdy girl. Because that means I get to be a part of fandoms. And a fandom is a community of people who gather together to talk about what they love and why they love it. It’s a community based on the idea that shared joy is the best kind of joy. And that’s exactly the kind of community I want to be a part of.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go cry over a pirate giving a princess a ring for the 100th time today…

24 thoughts on “Fangirl Thursday: Shared Joy Is the Best Joy

  1. this. a thousand times this. The very best days in the fandom are when we all collectively melt down in joy or shock or excitement because the fiction we love has drawn us together in a really special way. I’ve met and connected with so many wonderful people through fandom (especially the Captain Swan fandom, volatile though it may be!) and days like today just make it a thousand times better.


    • I’ve been so lucky to have experienced so many amazing days in different fandoms (especially the OUAT fandom) of collective joy. It’s always so much more fun to get to share the feeling with your fandom friends.


  2. I will be back to flail more later, but I just have to say that freaking out over OUAT sneak peaks is the reason why Fangirl Thursday even exists, so I HIGHLY approve of this post!!!

    • I had a whole different post planned, but about midway through writing it, I thought that it was ridiculous to not write about shared joy over a OUAT sneak peek on a Fangirl Thursday. It’s the whole reason we have Fangirl Thursdays and not Fangirl Fridays at NGN! 😉

  3. Beautiful!

    I recently started reading your website since I binged watched four seasons in two months over the summer (I was apparently living under a rock for four years). I am so grateful that I came across your blog. Your posts are beautifully written and exactly describe how I’m feeling.

    Keep up the awesome work!

    I am going to pass out on Sunday. #fangirling

    • Thank you so much! I’m so happy you not only found my site but also the show! And we’re all going to pass out on Sunday; it’s going to be amazing and wonderful and the cause of so many fangirl emotional breakdowns. 😉

  4. I must admit — I’m not watching the clip. I want to wait until the episode to enjoy it in context. I know it’s odd . . . but well . . . I doubt my oddness is going to come a great shock to anyone. Here’s what’s great about NGN and fandom when it’s working properly (and the idiot filter is deployed). . . no one’s going to say I’m not a real fan because I’m avoiding the clip.

    And to echo your point . . . Real fans watch the sneak peak clips. With glee and giddiness. Real fans don’t watch the sneak peak clips. They just watch the glee and giddiness of other fans and know that SOMETHING COOL IS COMING!!! I will totally freak out with y’all. (Yes, I’m from the South.) We’ll be real fans together.

    So, if you need a reason to watch the clip again — tell yourself you’re watching it on my behalf. Oh, and yes, I probably would watch it more than once or twice or ten times . . . so, go ahead. 🙂

    • Tempest I admire you for being strong enough to not watch sneak peeks and wait for the episode to air! Whereas when it comes to Once I’m totally weak and I admit I’ll probably watch the sneak peek several more times before Sunday!

    • I am excited knowing what you get to see come Sunday!! It will be worth the wait!

      I usually skip the sneak peaks because I like having context for scenes, but I always watch Killian/Emma ones because it allows me to freak out prior to the episode so I don’t get too distracted from the rest of the episode when it airs 🙂

      But I am with you on enjoying the general excitement without the heavy spoilers. I try so hard to resist going on Tumblr during the three hour gap between the east and west coast airings, but I love seeing Katie and everyone else’s live tweets during the ep because it gets me even more excited for what’s to come. Most people’s tweets are vague enough as to not be too spoilery (I can’t say the same for the darn official Twitter with their photo quotes!!).

    • I admire your willpower! Sometimes I can manage to hold out until Sunday, but often the pull of the excitement is too strong for me, and I cave. I’m so excited to read your thoughts on Monday’s post about the scene, because we have much to discuss. 😉

      I loved everything you had to say about real fans and spoilers/sneak peeks. I actually had a slightly different post in mind for today, and that exact sentiment was part of it. The only thing that qualifies you as being a “real fan” in my book is loving something and being nice to your fellow fans. If you gobble up every spoiler that’s great, but if you prefer being surprised, then that’s great, too. Different kinds of fans are what makes fandom so great!

  5. love the post Katie, and I had to go and watch the clip another 2 times before I could even comment! I love days like this where there’s a collective meltdown of joy across a fandom. I think it’s amazing when any TV show can garner so much love among so many different people, and across so many different countries. But today is a very good day to be a CaptainSwan fan – is it Sunday yet…!

    • Today is such a good day to be a Captain Swan fan! These kinds of joyful days are what fandom is all about. It reminds me in the best possible way of the day the first kiss sneak peek was released. These are the days I’ll remember long after the show has come and gone. (FAR FAR INTO THE FUTURE.)

  6. As a Captain Swan shipper who lives on the other side of the world, unfortunately we in Australia don’t get to watch OUAT when it screens in the US so I rely on my fellow Captain Swan shippers/fangirls & the internet for my CS fix and to watch the most perfect couple. I love this article and can so relate. I have loved sharing the joy & tears of today’s sneak peak with you all. I also love your website and you’re articles and interpretations of the most perfect union of CS. You are so right about the emotional breakdowns on Sun – I look forward to reading everyone else’s & sharing mine! ((how I’ll hold the squeals in I’m not sure since its Mon afternoon here & I’m at work when the show airs)

    • Thanks, Elly!

      I can only imagine what it’s like to be a fangirl on the other side of the world. I always admire all of you faraway fangirls for your dedication, and I love that fandom can bring together people from so many walks of life, so many backgrounds, and so many places around the world. Sharing joy and tears with each other—no matter where we live—is what being a fangirl is all about!

  7. Absolutely love what you wrote here, Katie. I’ve just recently found Nerdy Girl Notes and it has quickly become not only my favorite blog but also an inspiration. I started a blog a month ago after I went in for interview to be a content writer for a web-based magazine and was given the advice to start a blog of my own (as to gain experience and make a virtual portfolio of my work). Anywho I came across NGN while perusing WordPress and was so captivated by your blog. It has become like a textbook for me on how to properly write a kickass blog about TV. Thank you. Keep on killin’ it. xx

    • You’re going to make me blush! 😉

      Honestly, though, thank you so much for these incredibly kind words. Just the idea that my blog could be inspiring you in any way is making me a little bit emotional. I’m honored to be considered the writer of a “kickass blog about TV.” And I hope that running your own blog brings you as much joy, growth, and excitement as NGN has brought me over the years. Best of luck with your writing, and I hope we see you around NGN’s comments sections again!

  8. Shared experiences make all of the drama and nonsense that fandom can put us through worth it. There is something special about sharing that joy (or heartbreak) with so many other people around the world knowing that they know how you are feeling. It makes us feel a little less alone and acts as a wonderful uniting force that can cut through the drama and remind us why we love being a fangirl so much.

    I have terrible timing with getting really excited about something right as the fandom starts to dwindle but the few times the peak of my excitement coincides with the excitement of others have been truly magical experiences. All the cellcasts come to mind, as does the reaction the first time Merlin and Arthur hugged. It shows fandom communities at their best and they are experiences I wouldn’t have traded for anything.

    • You know that the idea of making people feel less alone is at the heart of everything I want to do and everything I love about fandom, so your first paragraph was so wonderful to read.

      And I loved that you brought up our cellcast memories. Those were some of my first real experiences of people coming together to all get excited about something at the same time (and, of course, there was the Kris and Adam GMA morning, which is one of my favorite “fandom uniting in happiness” memories). I will treasure them forever because of that.

  9. Just poking my head out of lurkdom to say how much I agreed with this post. For me, “shared joy” is the proof of life of a fandom. It’s the reason I follow Twitter feeds, read blogs, and browse Tumblr. I love the screams, the squees, the “all cap” conversations, & basically the vibe of the universe tilting off it’s axis when fandoms basically freak out bc a character has finally experienced growth or that OTP has finally embraced their love. It doesn’t even have to be my fandom all that collective happiness just bleeds out covering up negativity wherever it is found. I’m an RN and though I can say I have literally saved lives & am fulfilled by my career – for the most part my days are filled with the same announces everyone faces: budget cuts, political fights, overtime, family responsibilities, etc. I don’t smoke, when my associates break for a cigarette – I literally reach for my phone & use fandom as my stress relief. I’m not looking for arguments or criticism of actors or show choices. I am looking for that thrill found only by sharing a love of something (that the people around me can’t understand). Love may not even be the best term – passion probably hits the mark better. There is no better stress relief in my opinion than a bunch of fangirls passionately expressing their joy and sharing their thoughts with others.
    I hope this comment made some sense. I’m not very good with words which is usually why I just lurk.
    The point is I just wanted to say thanks (and your twitters on this particular moment for the OUAT fandom made me smile a lot).

    • I want to start this reply by saying I know you wanted to thank me, but now it’s my turn to thank you. Reading comments like this, seeing wonderful people like you joining our discussions—it reminds me why I started NGN in the first place. It’s the same sense of shared joy that I felt yesterday coming back to me again today, and I cannot thank you enough for that.

      Now, I just needed to tell you not to be hard on yourself; I know this was only one comment, but it’s a great one. So as far as I can tell, you’re quite excellent with words. If you ever wanted to come out of lurking again sometime, just know you’ll always have a place and a group of people who want to read your comments here. You’re more than welcome to join us whenever you have feelings you need to share!

  10. Every fan contributes to their fandom in their own way. And every contribution has value.

    I absolutely agree. It’s also about community too. And really, the best way to celebrate fandom to share with people who feel the same way you do too. Positive feelings. I don’t understand people who spend their time posting about something they hate. It’s so counter-productive.

    • I will never understand people who waste their time focusing so much energy on something they don’t like and spreading negativity. Life is too short for that, if you ask me. I want to focus on what makes me happy, and I love having a community around me that feels that way, too.

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