Don’t be a fan! 2

Photo by: Erik mit k

Here’s something some of you don’t want to hear: being a fan is for teenagers. No, really. It is. And in a time when the connection between the fans and the subjects of their adoration seem to be a cornerstone of many entrepreneurial wet dreams, this might be disheartening to hear.

But I stand firm: only teenagers collect and worship idols. I admire a lot of people, but I don’t worship them. With regards to me I could mention The Buddha, Donald G. Reinertse, Michel de Montaigne, Hunter S Thompson and David Eugene Edwards, just to mention a few people from various walks of life. But I remain sceptic. If they’re wrong, they’re wrong.

This is important because everything the guys at 37signals does, might not be the right way to go for you. Every move from Steve Jobs is not necessarily worth repeating in awe. Everything that Chomsky writes is not holy or untouchable. Everything in the Bible might not ring true. Richard Dawkins is not the ultimate source of all accumulated wisdom between heaven and earth. Neither is Seth Godin, Malcom Gladwell or Chris Anderson.

I choose these examples simply because I often come across people who all express unhealthy admiration for their work – to the point of worship .

In the words of the great Seneca:

“No new findings will ever be made if we rest content with the findings of the the past. Besides, a man who follows someone else not only does not find anything, he is not even looking. ‘But surely you are going to walk in your predecessors’ footsteps?’ Yes indeed, I shall use the old road, but if I find a shorter and easier one I shall open it up. The men who pioneered the old routes are leaders, not our masters. Truth lies open to everyone. There has yet to be a monopoly of truth. And there is plenty of it left for future generations too.”

But, I hear you say, aren’t you a bit of a Seneca fan right now with this quote and all?

No. I admire his writing. No more, no less. Please, learn to know the difference.

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2 thoughts on “Don’t be a fan!

  • Mattias

    A fan is according to the dictionary: “a person who has a strong interest in or admiration for a particular sport, art form, or famous person.”

    So while yes, I agree that worshipping is bad. Worship means that you do not question. I have “Question Everything” written on my chest. But the word fan could be used for much more positive things… So don't call me a teenager for using it. You could use it to be friendly and to show appreciation. If your a fan, others wants to know why.

    For instance, I'm one of your biggest fans. Wouldn't worship you. 😉

  • Thomas

    Well put and point well taken. I wrote that fandom is for teenagers to provoke and hammer my message home. But as you say, the word does indeed hold a lot of positive energy as well.

    However: (from wikipedia) Merriam-Webster, the Oxford dictionary and other recognized sources define it as a shortened version of the word fanatic, and the word did first become popular in reference to an enthusiastic follower of a baseball team. (Fanatic itself, introduced into English around 1550, means “marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion.

    I guess it's the “excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion” that I worry about. But with “question everything” inked across the torso, I guess we don't have to worry about that in your case. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.