This, for me is something I’ve recently started getting an active interest in, in my previous experiences, it’s rare to see a fandom actively looking to improve itself as much as the brony fandom is.
blogs like poniesforparents, askasanebrony and equestria-faily have been big motivators for me to take an active role into helping improve attitudes towards and within the fandom in general. While there will always be those who won’t, or don’t want to listen, I feel that having a firm, responsible, calm and well considered viewpoint will be vital to improving how things are.
The fandom does many great things, but we can always do better.
for a start, I feel that criticism, and how bronies respond to it, is for me, the first of our biggest failings. It’s not easy to take criticism of yourself and the things you enjoy, especially if you haven’t had to deal with it on a larger scale (I’m not talking about attacks here, I’ll get to that later). Many people respond quite negatively because they’re often not sure how to deal with it properly. this has, in my view, led to a problem where those who criticize feel that they are correct in what they say, and so they criticize the fandom more. this is circular cycle that escalates, sometimes rather quickly, resulting in generalized attacks coming from both sides.
Responding to such things in a proper way can be tricky when someone feels that it’s an attack on themselves, and as a result are fairly defensive and emotional about it. Taking the time to respond in a manner that promotes a proper dialog is important and is more likely to yield desirable results for both sides, if this approach does end up failing, people have to accept that the person is not likely to listen and move on. Any attacks made will only make a situation which could be resolved easily, that much worse.
but by the same token, I feel that people shouldn’t defend the bad parts of the fandom. These are the undesirable elements that we don’t want, but when people instinctively respond to these elements being called out, it helps send the wrong message to those outside the fandom with regards to the overall stance towards these elements (admittedly, it doesn’t help in any way when they are called out with a series of falsehoods and fabrications too, however, the knee-jerk reactions do make matters worse).
the use of comments such as “not all bronies are like that” in these discussions, while true, are easily dismissed by the people making the claims, and should be avoided whenever possible.
While this isn’t one of the biggest problems that the fandom does face, it seems to be the most frequent, with the near constant claims that unacceptable elements are allowed to flourish without being shuned from the fandom, often cycling through a veritable laundry list of claims, and accusations.
And finally, for now, in my list of things that I feel the fandom needs to be called out on and improve is our pride.
Pride is a great thing, it’s a great motivator, in just the right amount, however I personally feel that one a larger scale, the fandom has gotten too proud of itself, this is toxic to the overall perception of the fandom from the outside. We can tend to be viewed as overly self absorbed and arrogant because of it, with too many people having a view that the fandom has no faults and any attempts to bring light to any perceived as lies.
it’s, to me, one of the fandoms biggest downfalls. the near constant self-congratulatory attitude displayed by a lot of people (even if what happened barely has a link to the fandom) is a huge sign that the successes of the fandom has led to an attitude of overconfidence and accomplishment that, in a lot of cases, isn’t actually a result of anything the fandom has done at all.
this criticism isn’t to be viewed as to say we shouldn’t have pride though. By all means, we should, the fandom has achieved a lot of great things, however people need to be more humble about it, and need to realise that just because something that may happen that’s casually linked to the fandom, doesn’t mean that the fandom was behind the change.
But with negatives aside, there’s a lot to be said for the positives that happen within and around the fandom.
Several of these are well known, initiatives such as safe search wrap up are a perfect example of one of the ways that the fandom is helping to improve the online environment for young people who go looking for content.
This is a major contribution that I feel should definitely keep growing, and it’s expansion to cover more than just the search engines is a good leap forward.
The fandoms sense of community and acceptance is a major plus for it.
there are a few times I’ve run into problems (these are often people who fall into the “unwanted in the fandom” category), however I’ve found that the overwhelming majority of members are accepting of anyone who is taking part of anything within the fandom, no matter the differences between each other. As with any large group, there’s many things to work out, and it’s a constant battle, however I feel overall that the attitudes are positive and helpful. When someone needs help, often people are willing to offer it in whichever way they can.
My final point for this, incredibly long (for me), wall of text is a focus on the fandoms ability to raise awareness to issues that affect peoples lives, even outside the circles of the fandom. the charity and awareness campaigns performed by the fandom are often hugely successful, in many cases, far exceeding the initial goals set for them.
using the fandom in this way is a very positive thing, as it helps both inside and outside the fandom. The issues often raised will affect many members in some way or another, so the use of a common passion to help spread the message always makes it easier to get the point across.
For all the points I raise, from me, these are personal observations, much of my experiences within the fandom, for a large part have been limited due to external factors (mostly my work being in the middle of nowhere). This has, in many ways resulted in what can be perceived as a fairly narrow view of what happens overall, and I acknowledge this.
However, I fundamentally believe in the fandom, and the vast majority of the people within it. While there may be incidents from time to time, which will be screamed about by people against the fandom, they are, in reality rare and/or minor events when compared to external occurrences.
The recent increase in the number of bronies taking a more positive response towards negativity is a large turning point for the fandom, with the message of “this is what we’re truly about, these are the things we truly stand for” starting to get louder, I see things getting better overall.
Stamping out the unwanted elements from any fandom is a never ending battle, and I feel there’s still a long way to go for the brony fandom, and it’s a job made that much harder with people trying to actively tear it down at the same time. But the persistence of the growing number of positive members leading the way is paying off, and will endure in time.
I love this fandom, I love the show, and a vast majority of the content out there. I don’t think anything will change this for me, it’s a place I feel comfortable to be who I am at heart, and I think that’s what truly matters.