Obsessive Fan or Secretly Learning? You Choose…

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Alright, so liking a TV show/band/movie to the point of obsession may not be a cool thing to admit to. It may not be cool to necessarily be that person that everyone thinks of when they hear the word “obsessive.” But contrary to popular belief, being a hardcore fangirl/fanboy can actually be pretty beneficial for a number of reasons, including creative output, social experiences and even academic skills…

  1. It helps develop your attention span. For anyone who has ever obsessively binge-watched an entire TV series in one sitting, this is a key skill you have (probably) therefore developed. You know the value of focusing for extended periods of time because you know that the second you look down at your phone, you’re going to miss all the major plot developments for the next three seasons. (Believe me, I have done this.) For albums, the ability to tune in is definitely beneficial to your listening ability, especially in the case of new albums: googling the lyrics isn’t going to help, so listening to the same track on repeat is the only way to go…
  2. You have an extensive knowledge of genres. This is a great one for fans of actors. If you decide to watch their entire back catalogue, you’ll probably find a range of different projects, from psychological thrillers to horror to historical dramas (and the inevitable terrible crime drama.) When it comes to essay time, no one has a better grasp of genre than you – you’ve seen it all, and you’ve got examples to back it up. Plus you always have a great film to recommend when your housemates want something to watch.
  3. Patience. If you’ve ever waited for the new series of your favourite show, the next instalment of your favourite movie series or the new album from your favourite band then you’ll know the agony of waiting for a good thing. Therefore, it’s probably pretty likely that while all your housemates will be verbally counting down the days until the next vacations, you’ll be sat there quietly smiling and thinking to yourself that they know nothing of the agony of waiting. (You’ll also probably have a countdown going on your phone, but don’t tell anyone.)
  4. Analytical skills. Every fan goes through the stage of being so obsessed that they can’t see the faults in something. It doesn’t matter that your favourite actor has said something really douchey, or your favourite singer has just been arrested – they’re still a hero to you. You can’t accept that there’s an episode that might not be completely perfect – it’s intrinsically perfect just in the fact that it exists and is part of your favourite series. After a while, you become able to step back and look at things objectively. Yeah, that statement from the show producers was definitely wrong and out of order. That episode was critically acclaimed but for you wasn’t everything you expected. The new single wasn’t as great as you thought. Once you reach this stage, you’ll be able to analyse pretty much anything. Be it a TV episode that was a letdown in terms of set design or script, or a song that subverted genre conventions: you’re basically a pro critic.
  5. Coordination. One for the video gamers out there: if you’ve ever played FIFA, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you have super-advanced hand-eye coordination: I genuinely don’t understand how anyone does that. Later in life, these gamers will probably have amazing typing skills… even if not, you can put it on your CV. Probably.
  6. Motivation. “Just one more paragraph and I can watch a new episode/music video…” This is certifiably the best way to get through any evil essay, as you know that at the end of your work you’ll not only have advanced further academically but you’ll also get to enjoy your favourite thing. What isn’t to love? Just be sure that when asked what your motivation for a piece of work was, you don’t actually write “the new episode of _____”…
  7. Make friends! A lot of people will probably here be thinking that this is super lame, and the internet is full of weirdos. There may indeed be weirdos, but the weirdo : nice person ration is a lot lower than expected. Alright, there may be trolls and there may be the nuts fan pages who get super obsessive about things like the lead actor’s nose or the pronunciation of a made-up language, but by and large, the internet is a great way to meet fellow fans and bond over shared interests. The ability to therefore essentially communicate with strangers can prove a useful skill in employment, and your grasp of social networking could be useful for er… research?
  8. Find out who your friends are. This is huge, and although it doesn’t necessarily have an academic value, it sure has a social one: if you’re a hardcore fan and you talk about something all the time, it’s guaranteed people are going to find you boring. Those who don’t are either just as mad as you, or probably true friends. (There is also the risk they may want something. Take this advice at your peril.)
  9. New experiences! For both music and TV/film buffs, your interests can always provide new experiences and opportunities for you to expand your horizons. Whether it’s an exclusive preview screening with a Q&A from the actors, a premiere, a concert or a convention, who knows where the new experiences could lead? You could write about your experience and get into journalism, publish a review or even secure backstage passes. More to the point, you can add to your CV that you’re always willing to try new things – regardless of where or what.
  10. Creativity. OK, so it might not necessarily be cool to admit that you do fanart or write fanfic, but fan-based artwork is experiencing a renaissance. Fanfiction is often a forum that budding authors use to get their work out there and receive feedback and encouragement, whilst fanart can help develop art skills that may be crucial to your degree, while simultaneously allowing you to do something you love. Even fan-made videos can be influential: the new opening titles of Doctor Who were originally created and uploaded by a fan on YouTube: the work was then seen by head writer Steven Moffat, and the creator was offered a job!

Regardless of what your centre of interest is, pursue it! You never know where it might lead you, or how it could help you out later in life…

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Final year French student and feminist.

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