Nitpicking and the fannish tithe

I’ve been thinking lately about various issues of geek culture. Partly as a result of my attempt to essayize my off-the-cuff remarks on geek social fallacies, but also as a result of watching the always polite, respectful, and intelligent discourse that characterizes online fan forums.

One fannish behavior that I can’t quite figure out is that fan consumers often seem to have no investment in enjoying the products they buy.

In most of life, spending hard-won cash on a product or service gives you a certain investment in the enjoyment of that experience. You paid for it; you have an incentive to enjoy it. But many a fan seems to regard their fan-interest purchases as something forced upon them, as if they took an oath to tithe a certain percentage of their income to their hobby, regardless of whether there’s anything that they actually want.  So they consume, and critique, hobby products the way you might engage with junk mail or TV commercials — something imposed upon you, which has the burden of proof to demonstrate that it is worth your time.

I wonder if the phenomenon is connected to the completist ethic.  Even if a fan didn’t like a work, at least they know it.  If they didn’t have it, its absence would eat at them.

Originally published on LiveJournal