I understand and share people’s concern about the new LJ Twitter and Facebook ticky boxes, but I also think LJ fandom has to face the fact that the cyber fannish landscape is changing, and we need to change too.
Fandom on LJ has always existed as if we were protected by a cloaking device. In the past, our fannish identities and activities were protected by the fact that few outside of fandom knew about LiveJournal, even though anyone could see our posts. Even when fandom or fanfic was been talked about, it was generally websites or forums that got the attention. Who ever heard of LJ?
If things on LJ got linked to, it was usually within a fannish space. Some were more public that others – I know a number of fans that didn’t like their fanworks being linked on TWOP boards for example but by 2006 many people were tagging fics on delicious. Fanvids of course have been out there on YouTube for years.
Word of LJ as a place of fannish activity got out. Blame Google and ONTD for that. Still, we on LJ pretended we were invisible. The whole LJ Strikethrough of 07
was a shock as much for the fact that it made us realize that yes, people could see us, as anything else. It also reminded us that there are things we do here that we don’t want scrutinized. It’s not just about the disapprobation of fandom in the broader community, some things we do here are highly transgressive. Or in some places sort of illegal.
Then, in the last 3 years the blogosphere and social media sites have exploded, and moved beyond niche activities into being as much a part of everyday life as text messaging. The internet has been de-geeked. Suddenly your nana was on Facebook.
Fandom colonized these spaces too. While many on LJ were waiting to see if there would be a mass migration to LJ clones sites like Dreamwidth, a lot of LJ fans slipped out the back door and moved to Twitter and Tumblr. Facebook has had some fannish activity, but its pretty mainstream stuff. (I’ll admit here I am not actually on Facebook).
And the reality is people have been posting links to LJ on Twitter for ages. Do a search for Wincest or Destiel on Twitter and you’ll find fic and fanart and vid links. Tumblr is a hive of fannish activity both generated there esp in the form of art memes, but also by crossposting content to and from LJ and Twitter.
These new sites have different cultural norms to LJ too. The fannish community on LJ has developed over a decade accepted forms of behavior – cut for spoilers, don’t repost flocked material, credit fanworks etc - which are not being carried over for other sites. This is partly because of their different nature – for example Twitter is all about a public conversations in the moment, so you can’t expect people to not talk about an event (like the airing of a TV show) as its happening.
Also, the format and ways of interacting on other sites are more impersonal and there is, at least so far, less close knit fannish communities than you find on LJ (or a fannish message forum for example). It’s a desire to not be ostracized that is why we follow social norms - take away our connection to the community, and that changes. There is of course an exciting side to this, playing in spaces with less rules can be fun (until someone runs with scissors and it ends in tears).
Fandom has changed. LJ fandom has long held the conceit that we were the centre of fandom, or at the least the centre of creative fandom. That is no longer true (if it ever was). As an example LOST was a show where there was much more creative fannish activity happening in the broader blogosphere than here on LJ.
And that’s true of many shows esp those deemed not slash worthy like Mad Men or Sons of Anarchy - both shows where my fandom life is off-LJ on media sites and personal blogs.
I think there’s an element of generational change too – the iGeneration who grow up with these interconnected sites may be less inclined to sequester themselves on LJ, or less likely to respect those separations. (yes those kids should get off my lawn)
The curtain has been pulled back, we can’t keep just keep pretending we're invisible. We need to be proactive in how we run our activities here - maybe its locking down personal info more; or creating separate fic journals. Maybe its locking down* the underage bestiality fic, and being less uptight about the rest of our porn. ETA: obv the current crossposting makes locking down more difficult.
Looking at the LJ stats thing on my profile, 50% of you reading this won’t be LJ users (or at least not logged in. I have no control over where you link this either within or outside LJ. The walls are coming down - with or without ticky boxes that’s already happened.
ETA: hanks to the pingback bot thing I know this post been linked on other LJ sites, Dreamwidth and Delicious. LOL. who needs ticky boxes.