When Fandoms Take All of Your Spoons: 4 Ways to Deal with Toxic Fandoms

Everything that has fans, will undoubtedly have toxic fans. Toxic fans can feel inescapable when you are just trying to enjoy a chat about the latest K-POP music video in a dedicated forum. What can be worse is to find a sudden influx of hate on a comment you left about being excited for the newest season of an anime. We’ve all experienced toxicity from our fandoms in one way or another.

Thank you to Michelle at A Geek Girl’s Guide for suggesting this topic for my Mental Health in the Geek Community series! Michelle asked me to write about how to survive the toxicity of fans online which is honestly becoming more and more of an issue across social media. Most recently, Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker caused quite an uproar in the community and has been the latest movie of the series to divide fans; however, this article isn’t about the Skywalker Saga or the toxicity in the Star Wars community, but rather about what we can do to keep our love of our fandoms without sacrificing our mental health to others who create this toxicity within our beloved fandoms.

How can we deal with the toxicity without giving up our fandoms?

Photo by Dzenina Lukac from Pexels

Curate Your Feed

I am quick to curate my feed if I notice a wave of negativity. This could mean I might try unfollowing accounts on Twitter, unfollowing tags or muting hashtags on Instagram, leaving Facebook groups, or just putting people and groups on ‘snooze’ until I’m ready to dip my toes back into my favorite fandom communities. Meagan says “I stay off social media and mute certain tags. And if an argument ensues which can’t be settled, I’ll mute or even block them.

You can start curating your social media feeds by going to your following list. Unfollow any accounts that bring negativity to your communities and fandoms. Scroll through your feed and if there are any posts that give you pause, think about how it makes you feel and why you are following that account. If you can’t find a good reason to keep following, unfollow! On Instagram, you can check your explore page as well. Just tap on the posts that do not bring you joy and say ‘see fewer posts like this.’ Ta-da!

Moderate Content

You can moderate your personal content and public content at your discretion. Whether that means deleting comments on your Instagram or not approving comments on your blog like Lee Hall, you are the decision maker around here. “The good thing about having a WordPress blog is that it allows you to approve comments from followers/users. If someone gets a little ‘spicy’ on my turf (it’s happened before), I just don’t approve their comments.” Lively debates are one thing, but if the discussion turns toxic or “spicy” you have the power to decide what comments go up or come down.

Don’t be afraid of the block button either. If an account or person is getting really toxic or affecting your mental health, block them! You don’t need negativity or negative people in your life or fandoms. Even if they aren’t breaking any rules or are not wreaking enough havoc to be reported to a site or moderator, the block button is always there for you. And if an entire Facebook group goes awry, you can hit snooze on them! Michelle even uses a ‘two snoozes’ rule. “I have no problem muting or blocking people that I don’t know that post toxic things. I unfollow/snooze groups on FB two times to give things a chance to blow over. If after 2 snoozes it’s still bad, I leave the group. And I make regular habit of closing the apps for self care.

Be a Non-Toxic Fan

The best way to combat a toxic fandom community or their fans, is to be a non-toxic fan yourself! Be the change you want to see in the world! Pinkie says “I’ll convey very much that I am about positivity. I do realize that for my Yin there will always be a Yang. As far as their comments go, I try imagine they speak a different language. I do not understand their negativity nor do they understand why I am positive. It’s like we speak different languages. My positivity can not convince them, nor can their negativity convince me. Thusly I’ll read such comments as if written in a foreign language. Only when they begin to claim they are factually right, I will resort to block.”

Some ways to be a non-toxic fan:

  • Approach toxicity with kindness if you are in a good place mentally.
  • Use the report feature if you see another fan getting bullied.
  • Recommend positive fandoms and communities to other fans.
  • Leave comments, start discussions, and connect with positive fans.
  • Know when to bow out of a conversation or debate before it turns toxic.
  • Start your own uplifting fandom communities with friends and invite positive people.

Take a Break

Michelle says “… just taking a step away from the fandom helps. You can still enjoy something on your own and not be active in the fandom. Especially if it is bad for you mentally.” And she’s absolutely correct. Taking a break from your fandom communities will never make you less of a fan. It’s okay to step away for a period of time from the things we love if it starts to affect our mental health.

Regularly check in with yourself. If you are feeling like your mental health is becoming compromised, close apps or delete them until you feel you are in a better place to get back to participating in communities. Don’t forget to practice self care. In the mean time, you can still watch your favorite shows and listen to your favorite artists without getting caught up in potentially toxic communities. You are not less of a fan by enjoying fandoms on you own.

How have you handled toxic fandoms? Share some advice in the comments that has helped you!

If you are currently struggling with your mental health, please reach out to a friend/family member family and check out these resources:

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22 thoughts on “When Fandoms Take All of Your Spoons: 4 Ways to Deal with Toxic Fandoms

  1. I love this!
    I do believe in healthy disagreements but fandoms get real CRAZY real quick. Especially when people are online. I know Star Wars (my first ever fandom) has become hard for me to just try and enjoy for a handful of reasons, starting with how people treat the actors.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Absolutely love this, it completely needs to be said especially about muting and blocking people. The whole idea that we HAVE TO put up with certain types of behaviour and can’t rid ourselves of toxicity is just as harmful as the toxicity itself.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A really good post and some good suggestions to avoid toxicity not only in fandom but in general. But one thing you scratch the surface on, might be something that should go into more detail.

    You mention using the “Report feature” when you see someone getting bullied. Which is a good thing to do, but that should be the limit of it. Everyone has different ideas about what is bullying and toxic. For example there are people in my life that I know seem toxic and bullies to other people, but to me the conversations I have with those “toxic people and bullies” are great.

    So if nothing is being done after it has been reported, then we should not do anymore. If we do, then we might come across as being the toxic and the bully for trying to enforce our ideals onto other people or the group.

    In the end, we can use our ideals to control who and when we interact with people for our own benefit. But at the same time. we should let other people do the same and we all be happy in our own way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I completely understand where you are coming from. The definition of bullying has seemed to have changed now that we are in a digital age where people can hide behind their phones and computers to remain anonymous, but there are still lines that shouldn’t be crossed.

      The bullying I am referring to would include racism, sexism, homophobia, harassment, etc. I am not condoning mass reporting someone because their opinion is different from yours. That would also be considered bullying in my opinion. If someone is being threatened, harassed, stalked, etc. I definitely think they should report that person. And if it’s being done in a public forum, I think as a community we should report it if we see it as well. No other engagement with the bully needs to happen as it just begins a toxic cycle. The bully isn’t going to listen to anything the community has to say.

      I believe that if you see obvious bullying/harassment/threats, you should report it, then move on. 🙂


  4. Oh that turned into a neat little post. Toxicity is difficult to handle because it’s easy to overreact. Per example I strongly disliked the newest Star Wars endavour, I do not mind if people like it, in fact it makes me happy, means these actors and writers efforts were not in vain. My dislike is an opinion and not a fact, but neither is the opinion that it is good is a fact.

    Toxicity stems IMO from influencers who spin their opinion into sounding factual. Many youtuber of fandoms spin an opinion as an absolute and that absolute idea creates strife when it clashes with another and opposite absolute.

    In the end both opinions are needed. The Negative Star Wars fans make sure the next movie is crafted more carefully , while the postive fans make sure a new on actually happend, negativity doesnt make toxic yet.

    To fight toxicity we need to take our own opinions not as absolute but still as important. No matter how many people hate the new pokemon game, I love it, yet if Nintendo listens to the negativos I mightt get an even better game next time. We all can be fans.

    People who claim they are factually right and thus call out boycots against Blizzard, post stuff like “50 reason why fem dr who sucks and why who those see it are idiots” are people I ban, block or at least will not feature on my content.

    I imagine like everything is a tea party. If someone says they dont like scones, I will first try to ask..oh maybe can I offer you a cookie. It’s still their right to refuse and not eat. If the grumpy guest ( in my head thet are plushies) tried to ruin the scones for my other guests, I send them away and I would be well within my right. If the grumpy guest starts to pick up torches and pitchforks and tries to bankrupt the bakery that makes the scones they dislike , I am pretty sure the guest is misbehaving so bad I would be able to ban it from my house.

    Sometimes simplyfying things with analogies like that really help me realise what I can and can’t do. Your blog/youtube/fandomspace channel IS kind of like a tea party where you converse on topics of your liking.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Great post and some positive points. My hesitation around any form of curation always comes from the danger of moving towards an echo chamber mentality and only seeing the side of the discussion we agree with or find comfortable. One of the conflicting aspects of the nature of the digital environment is the presentation of it as both a ‘public environment’ which provides a greater ‘freedom’ of what is said vs a private environment.

    If someone came into my home/DMs spouting right or left wing ideologies I’d politely ask them to leave. Outside/on message boards should these viewpoints be policed or muted? Does that risk surrounding ourselves with only similar thoughts or viewpoints? It’s a risk.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that we should not shut ourselves off from differing points of view. You make an excellent point.

      As I said in a previous comment, I am referring to the worst of the worst: racism, sexism, homophobia, harassment, etc. And if a topic is detrimental to your mental health, it is at your discretion to mute those subjects. Just because I find XYZ to be something worth talking about, doesn’t mean that you have to put your mental health on the line to see what others think about it.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Charles!

      Liked by 1 person

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