When I was in high school I took a lot of shit for being an X-Files fan. Not bullying, just ribbing from my classmates and the occasional verging-on-nasty remark. I shrugged it off because it wasn’t serious, it was high school crap, and I had enough on my plate without worrying about a bunch of irrelevant teenagers being teenagers.
But then one of the people who regularly gave me shit sidled up to me between classes and asked if I had some on tape, and could she borrow them, and I said sure, why not share the awesome? I didn’t think much of it, except for the fact that someone totally different returned the tapes to me a month later. They’d apparently made the rounds of the school, covertly handed around like some kind of banned book. Nobody I spoke to admitted to watching the tapes, but I know at least four people did: the girl who borrowed them, the guy she gave them to, the guy who returned them, and the guy he’d gotten them from. I doubt they were the only ones.
I’m pretty sure we were all passionate about this pop culture show, but who is deserving of disdain in this scenario: the guy who made no bones about loving it and willingly handed around the tapes, or the crowd of kids who gave him shit for it in class and watched it covertly, like pornography? I had very little time for them before, and after I got the tapes back I had no time and no respect left for them.
I keep a division between my fannish life and my brickspace life for many good reasons, not least of which is I like being able to say what I please online without it getting back to my boss. I’m not saying anyone shouldn’t hide what they love if they have good reason, or even if they just want something private and personal for them. But I also don’t go around telling people they shouldn’t write fanfic or shaming them for being overly into a television show. I might not always understand peoples’ fandoms, and I might make fun of the canons I encounter that I think are silly or object to canons I think are objectionable, but I’m not going to dig at the fans for it. I’m not even going to dig at people who bought Fifty Shades of Grey, because they are clearly desperate to get something that’s missing from their lives which they don’t know how to find any other way. Among other things, I am a pornographer, and I want their business; I want to put Riptide Publishing business cards and excerpts from the threesome scene in Trace in copies of Fifty Shades at the bookstore. Come to the internet, people. We have bondage porn too, and ours is healthy and sane.
I don’t need to feel superior to these people, because I’m producing something I think they could enjoy.
There is a point at which obsession to the exclusion of all other things becomes problematic. Most fans don’t even come close to hitting that barrier. Everyone has passions, but only damaged people get nasty and superior when your passion isn’t the same as theirs. Passion leads to creativity; passion leads to dedication, which builds skill and hones talent and gives direction to life.
So love what you love. Keep it private if you want, or dance in the streets with it if that’s what your heart desires. But belittling someone else for being passionate only makes a small person feel bigger, and even then only for a ridiculously small fraction of time.