Avid TV fan Beth tells me about joining fandom as a teen and her experience attending conventions
Tell me a little bit about yourself?
I am a recent economics graduate with a keen interest in all things TV! I am constantly looking for the next show to lose myself in, my most recent venture being Emily in Paris and The Queen’s Gambit. I am a sucker for a bit of romance but a good thriller never fails to get me hooked. I also love to travel when I can, particularly Europe - I love the history, the culture, the food and the people!
When was your first experience with fandom/fan culture? What was it like?
I was first in the FRIENDS fandom on Twitter back in around 2014. I loved it, discovering people online who loved to talk about the show just as much as I did. The FRIENDS fandom was fairly relaxed since the show had ended by the time I joined, so there was no episode drama or ship wars. It was a great first fandom, that's for sure!
Social media plays a big part in fandom – what has your experience been like using social media as a way to communicate with other fans and create friendship/relationships with these people?
I have been able to build some amazing long-lasting friendships because of social media. It's crazy how some people you just click with over Twitter, or Instagram because you think/feel the same about a show and then you never look back. Don't get me wrong, I have had some pretty toxic friendships too because every fandom has its handful of crazies, but now I have a solid group of friends who I know I will never not be friends with. I see them as my 'In real life' friends now, rather than 'internet' friends. In fact, I saw two just this weekend for lunch and I am seeing one next week for dinner!
When did you go to your first convention? What were your initial feelings before you attended?
My first convention was MCM Comic-Con in 2015. I was nervous and excited. It was a pretty intense convention for my first one, because it was generic, meaning that thousands of people came from lots of different fandoms. I went to meet Victoria Smurfit and Merrin Dungey from Once Upon A Time. It was the first time any of the actors had done a convention in the UK so I was desperate to meet them but I didn't quite know what to expect. I had high hopes though and was counting down the days beforehand!
What was the experience like at your first convention? Did you enjoy it?
The convention, although big, was so relaxed and we were able to talk for a while with the celebrities and take selfies. The organisation was a bit pants when it came to buying extras (I don't think they realised how popular some of the guests were going to be) but this was something they sorted the following year and it was seamless--they definitely learnt from their mistakes! It was such an awesome first convention experience which definitely lived up to my expectations and more! And I met friends there who I still keep in contact with now.
What was it like meeting the big star(s) that you’d paid money to finally see? Was it a gratifying experience?
I have actually only ever had good experiences meeting the stars! I have never been disappointed and never regretted spending the money I did. I know some friends who have been a bit disappointed but some people go in wanting too much from them, when really they are only human like us.
How many conventions have you attended?
6, all in the UK.
Did you maintain contact/friendships with the people you have met at conventions?
Yes, I actually attended every convention following my first one with my friends that I met at these conventions, and as mentioned before I still see a lot of them now. A good chunk of these friends are just my friends now, and we don't really talk about the fandom anymore like we used to. Instead, we talk about work, life etc. I am so blessed to have these friendships.
Obviously, Coronavirus is having a huge impact on the convention industry – did you have any plans this year to attend any events?
I was going to go to one in Telford but I'm glad it got cancelled as I no longer want to meet the person I was going there for. To be honest, I was mainly going as an excuse to see all of my friends there anyway.
Now many companies are choosing to run online/virtual events – what do you think about this? Would you or have you attended one?
I haven't attended one no, I don't think they are the same and in my opinion, a waste of money. People record panels anyway and put them online, so why would I pay for it if I wasn't actually in that room experiencing it, you know? Also, I don't really like video calls, it's a bit intense, so online conventions aren't really my thing.
What do you think the future holds for the convention industry? Will it be able to recover from COVID?
I am sure it will as people always want to meet their faves and are willing to pay handsomely for it. Let's just hope they are able to go back to normal soon when it's safe to do so.