Likemindedness is the new proximity is a phrase I stumbled across in an infographic on social media’s influence for advertising. The graphic cites our high rates of Internet connectivity and how we’re all more likely to trust a friend’s review than a critic’s. It says that the influence of one word-of-mouth recommendation is as powerful as two hundred TV ads. But it doesn’t actually talk about proximity, or how the Internet has erased its importance.
Fandom has so very little to do with proximity. Where you are matters hardly at all; the important thing is what you like. Fans feel “close” to friends who live timezones, continents, and oceans away. They talk and think and laugh and create together through the Internet, producing a new kind of proximity—one born from sharing a love of characters and stories and kinks rather than a space. The buzz word for online interactions used to be “virtual,” and fans do still joke about the divide between “real life” and fandom. But when it comes to the relationships, alliances, communities, and causes grown from fandom, it’s all very real, and there are no borders. Fandom is the new proximity.
This website represents the academic side of my fandom involvement. Follow the menu links to learn more about my personal research approach, read about what I think is the juiciest and most neglected area of fan studies, and glimpse a little bit of my fan scholar life.