You’re Never Too Old to Be a Fan

You’re By no means Too Previous to Be a Fan


Tima Miroshnichenko/Pexels

Supply: Tima Miroshnichenko/Pexels

Ageism is prevalent in lots of cultures, main folks to see older adults as ‘different’ and someway lower than, which limits the vary of actions and feelings which might be deemed acceptable. Fandom is not any exception. The concept being a fan is normative for younger folks however unacceptable for adults is often seen each in journalism about followers and inside fan communities themselves.

Adults are anticipated to “develop out of it” and should really feel like they must “develop up” and transfer away from issues that introduced them pleasure. That is unlucky since many individuals obsessed with one thing as a teen could also be stunned to seek out themselves nonetheless obsessed with one thing – possibly even that similar one thing – many many years later.

The Individuation Thesis

Cultural concepts about ageing are slowly altering, nonetheless. The part of life outlined as adolescence has been expanded, schooling extends longer, accomplice hood and parenthood are sometimes delayed, and retirement has a extra versatile age expectation. At each part of maturity, there may be extra flexibility to dwell your life in a approach that’s according to your private pursuits and targets. This is called the “individualization thesis,” bringing the concept that individuals are extra prone to see themselves on the age they really feel (usually youthful) as an alternative of their particular chronological age.

The Rolling Stones nonetheless performing of their seventies or the return of the Backstreet Boys many years later mirrors their admirers’ continued funding and refusal to purchase into being “too previous” to be followers. Thus, a rising physique of analysis targeted on fandom and ageing.

Continuity Idea and Fandom

Some researchers have utilized theories from gerontology, the science of ageing, to fandom. For instance, many individuals outline themselves partly by way of being a fan. Whereas methods of demonstrating that devotion could change through the years attributable to bodily constraints or waxing and waning ranges of funding, many individuals constantly adapt to proceed their relationship with what they love.

That persevering with relationship contributes to a way of consistency of the self through the years – what we’re obsessed with, whether or not a celeb or a tv present or a sports activities staff, is a self-stabilizing object. That is according to gerontology’s continuity idea – whereas all of us expertise change as we age, we understand that change as occurring towards a backdrop of relative consistency. As a idea of grownup growth, continuity idea emphasizes that we attempt to preserve our psychological and sociological patterns as we transfer by way of maturity. For many years, being a fan of one thing or somebody could be an anchor, particularly when life is filled with change and disruption.

One other profit to fandom in maturity is offering a path to sustaining neighborhood. It’s well-known that rising isolation can generally include rising older as relocations, retirements, or losses happen. Having a cohort of “linked lives” to journey by way of life makes adapting to vary simpler and gives a continuity of assist that may bolster psychological well being.

As well as, all of us outline ourselves by way of the tales we inform ourselves about our personal lives. Curiously, whereas our on-line and in-person relationship networks assist us decide who we’re, {our relationships} with celebrities, fictional characters, and sports activities groups are additionally integrated into our narratives, offering a further supply of continuity. Longstanding fandoms can provide construction to our life tales; folks usually describe the essential features of their lives by way of being a part of a particular fandom.

Transitions within the issues we’re obsessed with offering hallmarks and turning factors in our life tales. As our identities shift over time and competing priorities, the relative significance of 1’s identification as a fan could shift however nonetheless persist as some extent of continuity.

Assembly Erikson’s Challenges By way of Fandom

Completely different phases of life carry distinctive developmental challenges and alternatives which form the people we turn into. Erik Erikson’s developmental idea can be utilized as a lens for a way fandom can assist meet a few of these normative developmental challenges at each stage of life. For instance, for younger folks and adults, having heroes and folks or characters to admire can present inspiration and energy to maintain going by way of onerous instances.

Fandom can be a approach of negotiating Erikson’s challenges at completely different levels. The problem for folks within the younger grownup stage is being snug with intimacy as an alternative of turning into remoted; in a contemporary tradition that usually calls for frequent strikes and separations, this may be tough. Attachment to a celeb, present or staff can cut back emotions of isolation and be part of a fan neighborhood. People who’re admired will age together with their admirers and may present a job mannequin for profitable ageing.

In center to later maturity, Erikson described the disaster as generativity – discovering that means in life and specializing in leaving one thing behind – as an alternative of self-absorption. People on this stage could interact within the charitable features of fandom to offer again and as a way of generativity. Generativity can be expressed in mentoring youthful followers with writing or artwork or sharing fandom historical past and customs. Fan communities encourage the expression of emotion, creativity, and keenness greater than the tradition at massive, which is usually a approach of “staying younger.”

Folks in all developmental levels can also be drawn to fandom throughout instances of transition, particularly when the change contains loss (loss of life, divorce, and many others.) or important life adjustments. The relationships established inside fan communities are significantly useful at these instances. As well as, the feelings generated by being a fan is usually a approach of reconnecting folks to their emotions, making these transitions smoother.

By no means Too Previous to Be a Fan

Adults in 2022 dwell in a really completely different world from the one they had been born into. Speedy adjustments in social norms, expertise, and cultural expectations adapt to a singular problem as folks attempt to navigate the adjustments and adapt to the current with out dropping their identification with the previous. Hanging onto one’s self-identity by way of these adjustments is tough, and what we’re obsessed with is usually a touchstone amid change.

A current examine by Claessen (2014) of nursing dwelling residents with a median age of 85 discovered that many had continued their attachment to sure celebrities all through their lifetimes. Being a fan throughout the many years is usually a port in a storm for adults of any age and a profitable coping technique for ageing within the twenty first century.


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