In Fandom, Is Age Just a Number?

As I scroll down Twitter these days, I’ll occasionally happen upon what seems to be an insightful article or piece. I know it’s probably worth reading, and that I’d get something out of it, but something prevents me from clicking and actually looking. I’m not exactly sure why that’s the case, but the fact that the people who wrote these pieces (or decided to link to them) often feel like they have something to prove about themselves exhausts me. At the same time, I’m well aware that a younger me from 10 years ago would likely have thought differently, and would be more eager to engage.

I think this is what it feels like to mature/grow older. Not enough for an actual IRL mid-life crisis, mind you—more like the fandom version. I think it’s clear from my posting history on this blog that I still engage with my passions pretty regularly, but something else that probably comes across is that I sort of exist in my own world. Sure, I read and view what catches my attention, I think about where the industries and fandoms are going, and I keep writing as an exercise in contemplation. And I talk to other fans every so often. However, what I don’t really do is actively engage with the fandom at large or try to explore the absolute depths of a given topic. More and more, I feel in my body that time is finite, and I’m not sure I have what it takes to go full-steam ahead on any fandom, general or specific. Heck, I don’t even listen to podcasts as much as I used to, and that was an easy way to check out the opinions of others.

Doing my own thing isn’t actually all that terrible. Perhaps one of the reasons I interact less is because the discourse is poisoned by how social media currently works. Still, it comes with a drawback of me feeling disconnected from other fans, especially younger ones who grew up from grade school with manga in their local libraries and such. I’m happy we’ve gotten to that point of easy access, but it fundamentally changes the presence of manga in one’s life. Similarly, the fact that The Simpsons has become the mark of a Millennial/Gen Z divide based on whether people engage with the original jokes or the memes that sprung out of them is fascinating, yet revealing of the passage of time.

I also know that to many older individuals, I still probably come across as a young and spritely sort, and that there are plenty of people with decades on me who still have passion and energy. Taking that into account, maybe the sensation I’m experiencing is that I’m aiming to walk a few blocks to get to my destination, and I’m seeing others sprint or run marathons. My journey is worthwhile, but it’s short and more leisurely, and even though it’s not a competition (and I don’t view it as such), I nevertheless can’t help but notice the people who pass me by.* It’s less about comparing accomplishments and more about being on different wavelengths, and I’m getting used to shifting between them.

*For the record, I used to be part of a casual running group, and I was anything but swift, so I also know this feeling from actual experience.

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