Letters to Summer

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Hello Pen Pals! This is a bonus letter just for you, to thank you for supporting us on Patreon. In this one, we're talking about Fandom. We hope you like it!

Jillian: ok so today we’re having a lil chat about fandom, which is fun because we met sort of partially because of fandom

Summer: yes!

we met because of a mutual friend connecting you with another friend who they met through me (in a way) and then you were roommates and we are all friends

Jillian: lol


very simple

and we met all of these friends through online fandoms

Summer: it all goes back to glee….

glee and supernatural are like, anchor fandoms

Jillian: ugh, yeah

my first experience with fandom was all the glee freaks on tumblr

Summer: oh!!!!

i didn’t realize that was your first experience

Jillian: i think i was sort of aware of fandom and fanfiction before that, but i never really participated in any of it

i remember being really young and looking at forums for like, whatever disney shows i was into

and i think i read a little bit of harry potter and percy jackson fanfiction on ff.net

but the glee fandom on tumblr was kinda where it all really started for me

Summer: how did you make your way to tumblr?

Jillian: i genuinely do not remember

it didn’t start with fandom

i don’t know how i discovered tumblr, but i guess it was the same way that all middle schoolers in the mid-2000s did

my first url was magicalmusings

(i just looked it up and somebody is using that url now! it’s not me tho lol)

Summer: omg cute

i got to tumblr from deviantart/formspring!

my first URL was summasaur i think lol

Jillian: cute!!!

Summer: i do remember clearly how i got into glee fandom though lmao

Jillian: ooh tell me

Summer: i saw on facebook someone linked a tumblr post of the S2 glee trailer

and so i followed the link and i was like oh this person…posts about GLEE?

tumblr isn’t just for homestucks and anime….

Jillian: omg

Summer: and yeah it just went from there…i was dually in homestuck and glee fandom….and then i fell more into the pipeline of supernatural, doctor who, sherlock etc

Jillian: did you watch glee before that

Summer: yeah! i watched it as soon as it aired

Jillian: omg same

i remember seeing the trailer with my mom and both of us being like oh that show looks good

Summer: my parents really like josh groban and he was in all of the trailers lkjsdfkljsdklfjs

Jillian: and then we watched it together every week for years

Summer: YEAH it was a big family show for me too???

which is kind of wild in retrospect

Jillian: i don’t really remember how i fell into the fandom on tumblr tbh

i think before i found the glee fandom (or maybe around the same time) i had sort of found the harry potter fandom

and i think a lot of those people ended up becoming the glee fandom or at least leading me to it

that was before i really knew anybody on tumblr though

Summer: ooooo that makes sense to me

i feel like harry potter was also in the undercurrent of every fandom i was in

Jillian: harry potter was just always there

Summer: you could kind of assume everyone was just…into harry potter

Jillian: i don’t think there was anybody on tumblr who didn’t at least reblog one harry potter thing

Summer: it’s kind of wild

i wonder how people who are more firmly gen z feel about harry potter and if it still runs as an undercurrent in fandom now?

now that jkr is such a public bigot lol

i remember Back in the Day there would be critiques of harry potter re: the characters of color but yeah mostly it was just having fun i think

Jillian: i see harry potter tiktoks from zoomers every once in a while

so i assume it’s still kind of a thing

Summer: RIGHT tiktok is how i would get access to what the zoomers are thinking

do you see tiktok as a fandom space?

Jillian: it can be!

right now a good chunk of my for you page is kpop stuff

a lot of people on tiktok post really cool fanvids or fanart and stuff, or just videos of them talking about fandom

Summer: that’s so cute…i miss fanvids that’s my roots

i honestly don’t know if twitter was ever great for fandom, i’m surprised with how much it has proliferated

Jillian: twitter actually was a big fandom space for me for a little bit

i don’t really remember where this fell in the timeline of me discovering glee fandom and meeting my friends on tumblr and all that but i do remember at one point using twitter to engage with the les mis fandom, which feels like a fever dream

Summer: oh WOW

Jillian: i think to some extent every platform has fandom stuff

it just takes different forms

Summer: i think twitter was always like, an extension of my tumblr friends where we were more social than fandom-y

Jillian: that too!

Summer: like none of us were trying to Create on twitter

seeing friends dip back into Proper Fandom via twitter has been really interesting

Jillian: now it feels like twitter is The Space for fandom

especially for artists

Summer: YEAH! twitter used to not even be compatible with posting photos kljsdfkljdsklf

Jillian: with the caveat that all of this is just my own narrow personal experience and everything, when i check tumblr from time to time now it’s mostly gifsets of things—that’s kind of the medium that has become really popular there i think

there’s less fanart these days now, i think

Summer: the same for me!

Jillian: but twitter has become a good place to post everything: fanart, videos, links to fics, shitposts, whatever

Summer: i briefly jumped back on tumblr after the amazon good omens came out

and it was GREAT for gifsets, but a lot of the great fanart was on twitter

i still use tumblr looking for fic rec lists actually! but newer fandoms that’s less useful

like i found one for ace attorney ships, but not fire emblem three houses ships

since a lot of fic is consolidated to ao3 those rec lists aren’t as much of a tool i think

they used to pull from across the internet and all of those places…rip lj

Jillian: every once in a while when i’m into a new thing i’ll open tumblr and just go into the tag and see what the top posts are like i’m scavenging for food

which! actually! is really interesting to me because when i was a kid i never used to use the tags in that way

Summer: they definitely did something fucked up to the tags idk i used to actually go through them really thoroughly

but it used to be chronological

now there’s an algorithm…

Jillian: i actually use the tags more frequently now because of that though

Summer: what is nice is you can do multiple tags search

Jillian: (also you can switch to either seeing the top posts or most recent ones)

Summer: omg im dumb skldjfkldsj

see how much i go on tumblr haha

Jillian: i think because i don’t spend very much time on tumblr now i get too overwhelmed to even curate my dash and find new people to follow, so i rely more on search and tags to find the content i want

Summer: oh yeah the idea of following someone NEW!!!!! no

Jillian: i’m less interested in using tumblr to just aimlessly scroll and look at stuff. i go on there because i’m like, i want to see gifsets of this one show.

Summer: same, i want Specific Things. i want Fanart to make me Swoon and Feel Happy

also i feel like fuck-yeah blogs are less common

Jillian: omg the fuck-yeah blogs lol

off-topic but do you remember back in The Old Tumblr Days when people used to spam food posts at like 3 am

Summer: YES


Jillian: like every night if you stayed up late enough everyone would just reblog pictures of food

Summer: omg just unlocked a memory

Jillian: it was a ritual

Summer: tumblr was crazy

Jillian: it really was


i want to talk about how we engage with fandom now as adults

Summer: yes!!

Jillian: what would you say your recent or current fandoms are

Summer: ooooo ok so

fire emblem: three houses and ace attorney i think are the ones i identify with right now

Jillian: and also……maybe…..how do you separate just “tv show i watched and enjoyed” with “fandom” because i think those are very different feelings but maybe you feel differently

Summer: YEAH they are


i don’t think i’ve properly paricipated in fandom since maybe 2017

i think right now i read fanfiction + retweet art and stuff but i only really talk to the people i already know about the things i like

i think there’s a specific social function of fandom that is key to me—how you organize your thoughts around a product and how you socialize through it

which is why like, someone who recaps episodes of supernatural may not be in the “fandom” in the same way someone who posts theories on tumblr maybe

i think fandom requires broader engagement than “i like this,” i feel very on the in-between for the past few years and i’m okay with that

Jillian: ok yes totally feel all of this!!!

i also had a few years off from really participating in fandom—i don’t think i really stopped using tumblr on a regular basis until the end of college, but i was in and out of a lot of different fandoms and also mostly only interacting with people i was already close friends with

but the pandemic really got me back into it last year! i guess because of a combination of having so much more time just being alone at home + spending a lot more time online talking to friends and wanting to experience stuff with them because i was missing out on like, normal socialization

at the beginning of last year i got really into fire emblem three houses which was fun because i got to talk to you about it a bunch

so the first time i read a new fanfiction in a couple of years was sylvix

and then last summer i got really into mo dao zu shi which is a whole thing

and that’s something i’ve gotten to share with a bunch of our friends who are also very into it! we’ve been watching the shows together online with teleparty, tweeting about it on our alts and stuff, it’s very fun! it’s brought me a lot of joy!

Summer: yeah!!! as well documented in our newsletter lmao my re-entry to fandom was my hero academia!

even though i haven’t been able to fully get o the mdzs bandwagon it’s been SO fun to watch y’all and also SO interesting

just to see how fandom has sort of adapted for twitter

like threadfic is really cool and something not really possible on tumblr, social media AUs work so well on twitter, etc

Jillian: yeah the cool thing about getting back into fandom has been seeing all the new ways there are to engage with it that didn’t really exist or weren’t popular when we were younger

threadfic is so good! shitposting about fandom stuff is so good! i’ve seen so much amazing fandom content on twitter

Summer: i love fandom shitposts

an evolution of “fandom crack”

a much better name lol

and funnier, imo

Jillian: at first, i started by making twitter lists for different fandoms so i could see fandom posts when i wanted without having to follow a billion people—like i had one for fe3h and one for mdzs and stuff like that

Summer: yeah! i had an artists list it was really nice

Jillian: and then at a certain point with the mdzs fandom i decided i really wanted to be able to actually talk to people in the fandoms, specifically authors who i really liked, because i wanted to tell them how much i loved their writing and their ideas and stuff—and i couldn’t do that with a private alt account, so i ended up making a semi-anonymous fandom account

and i still feel a little weird about it sometimes but mostly i’m really glad i did because i’ve been able to make a few new fandom friends and it’s been really fun

Summer: i’ve been thinking about doing something similar

just because i want to interact w authors and tell artists they are cool and talented

but i’ve refrained…maybe one day

i have gotten into the habit of commenting on fics pretty regularly though!

which i didn’t do at all in the height of my fandom days haha

Jillian: i’m still really bad about remembering to do that

oh! another new fandom space for me is discord

which lol is where we’re having this discussion right now

Summer: DISCORD…i’ve not been successful yet

Jillian: i’m not in any fandom-specific discords but i know they exist, servers just for people to talk about certain fandoms, which i think is a cool idea if you maybe want something less public-facing than twitter

Summer: yeah definitely

i was briefly in the discord for Lolita Podcast and was very overwhelmed but I think other spaces might feel good

Jillian: but it does require you to be a little less passive than twitter since it’s more discussion-based, you can’t just like and retweet things that you like

Summer: YEAH i’ve always been comforted by fandom spaces that are more like…shout into the ether and people can shout back

Jillian: a few friends and i made a small fic rec discord that’s open to mutual friends in all fandoms and it’s been really cool and nice so far

Summer: the direct engagement of discord is a little intimidating

i just think it’s cool to see how people adapt new platforms to be fandom spaces

same with tiktok! there’s a lot of fandom content there, and of course it’s all video but there are still different forms of it, and it’s cool

Jillian: the thing about tiktok that’s kind of funny is that the way that i use it is so different from the way i use basically any other app. because their algorithm just like, knows me so well (let’s not think about that) i don’t even really have to follow people or search for content that i want. like it just shows up on my for you page.

every once in a while i like to search for something, like kpop or whatever, just to sort of tell the app “hey i’m into this thing, feel free to show me more of it” but it’s not like i go on there and have to dig for bts fanvids or anything. they’re just there.

Summer: wow…

horrifying but also convenient

ugh stop ur gonna get me on tiktok

Jillian: tiktok is good!

i mean i’m sure there are horrifying implications about our privacy somewhere in there but the content is good!

Summer: yeah i mean every app already knows everyhting about me

it’s fine!

i think my hesitance w/ fandom at this point is

i don’t want to become attached to anything in the way i was as a teen

Jillian: hmm why is that

Summer: like i don’t want that dependance anymore on media/the players within media

Jillian: ohh i see

Summer: i’m Older and more Emotionally Mature and have Outlets besides fandom so i know it wouldn’t be like that again

but the emotional fragility of your entire existence based around like, misha collins or some bs

Jillian: yeah that’s very true

it’s hard to engage with fandom as an adult because you know How Things Are Made now

Summer: yeah exactly

like….hollywood is so horrible…work conditions…the PANDEMIC

there was a piece by the person who made your fave is problematic that came out like yesterday skdljfklsdjfslkjf

Jillian: yes i just read that!

Summer: and she was basically like “i was a teenager who was mourning the death of a family member and going through so, so much”

and it’s like.

Jillian: it’s kinda like, yeah, of course you were

Summer: exactly

Jillian: everyone on tumblr was a stupid teen that’s how it was

we never should have given that much attention to anything on there

Summer: like of course you were! of course our dependence and obsession was contingent on our material lives having issues or harm

and i think fandom can be fun w/o being horribly lonely offline

Jillian: absolutely

Summer: but yeah sometimes i’m just afraid of reverting!

and so i’m happy to pick at the pieces i like while creating boundaries

Jillian: how do you make boundaries between your fandom stuff and your real life stuff then?

or between like, your main online persona and your private fandom online persona, if that’s something you think about?

Summer: so i think not following fandom accounts on my public twitter is one way

i just follow people who are my friends


i think about that a LOT

Jillian: same lol

Summer: because like, my public twitter ISN’T professional

but it’s basically a public poetry twitter

Jillian: separating my life into twitter accounts is good and weird and bad and helpful

Summer: i know it’s so fucked ksldjfklsdjfkdls

and then my locked twitter is for the fandom friends who are just Friends

Jillian: yeah that’s basically how i am too

Summer: and yeah i don’t let anyone really follow my priv except for the people that followed it before i made the public twitter

i don’t follow anyone on it except for like artists and the people that follow it

Jillian: i have my public twitter where i don’t talk about fandom at all, my private twitter that’s just for a few friends (and that’s where my fandom lists are), and my fandom account where i can engage with other people in fandom

it’s a little bit weird to feel like i have to keep fandom stuff a secret tbh

but like you said i think it’s helpful to have boundaries

and fandom is something that’s really only fun if i’m sharing it with friends i trust

Summer: yeah! i think

now instead of keeping it to myself out of shame

which is what it used to be lol

it’s just personal! i think we both sort of post about fandom on our non-fandom public twitters

and obv we talk about stuff in our newsletter

as we’re doing now

Jillian: right, it’s just sort of different

Summer: but i would never like, livetweet a fic on that twitter

Jillian: exactly

Summer: i would say “I’m excited for this animal crossing thing”

but yeah.

i don’t even really give out my friend code lmao

Jillian: everyone was very into exchanging friend codes when animal crossing first came out so we could all visit each other’s islands and stuff and after a bit of that i started to feel weird about being friends with people on my switch that i didn’t know lol

Summer: yeah there’s one person whose display name isn’t their name and every time they come online to play and it shows up on my screen im like….who are you…

Jillian: sdgklsdjfds

a mystery

Summer: but yeah. fandom is a space that i’m thankful has given me what it did

like you!!!!! and the rest of our friends

and i’m thankful for trends of more critical eyes that i’ve noticed

Jillian: i am also very thankful for fandom because even though a lot of it is very cringe it has brought me a lot of joy

Summer: yes!!!! i love to have fun

Jillian: i wouldn’t have met you if it weren’t for glee! what a weird thing!

Summer: isn’t that kinda fucked up

such a cursed show

Jillian: glee sucks but this newsletter wouldn’t exist without it

Summer: but it brought so many people together…

thanks ryan murphy!