In the past year I have received more page requests on Facebook than almost anything else. It would seem it is every day that I get a notification from someone who wants me to like their page and be a fan. Most of them are costume oriented pages (because I know many people in that hobby), however some pages are for local businesses, and even fan pages for normal people. At first I found this quite strange, but now it flat-out bothers me. Before we begin, I would like to note something. I am bound to hurt someone’s feelings with this post. However, I think it is time I say something. This week I have already received three page requests, and it’s only Tuesday. I know it is fun to count the likes on your page, however I think it is safe to say I am not a fan of this practice. I have been doing costumes and make-up for around six years now, and I just do not see myself as being high up in social standing. I simply do not think that I require a fan page. For me it is a hobby, and I only do it for myself. I really have no interest in expanding my horizons to show off my work, nor make a name for myself. I dress up as celebrities or characters for fun, not to impress someone who could be labeled as a fan.
At one point in time I actually had opened a page for my costumes, but I quickly disbanded it after deciding it was not an appropriate route to take with sharing my work. I had just started making costumes and doing make-up. At the time, I think I wanted to show-off my hobby, but I came to a several realizations after thinking about it for a few days. Mainly I wanted my friends to enjoy my hobby, and no one else. I was not in the market of sharing my work to gain a following; I simply I enjoy what I do, and like to share with my friends what I am currently up to. In turn I care for what my true friends are doing, so I believe the feeling should be mutual. This ties into my first few realizations about my Facebook friends list.
I had suddenly noticed that the number of my friends had swelled to almost nine-hundred people. I decided that I should go through and delete many of the accounts, because quite honest, I was not for sure who many of them were. Likewise some of them were just not people I would associate myself with anymore. My goal was to only have people who actually meant something to me be a part of my Facebook account. Over the course of two nights I went through and deleted well over three-hundred of people. Suddenly I found that I had a higher quality friends list. I downsized it to a more manageable number, and everyone on it were then people I knew personally or respected in someway.
At the same time I noticed I was “following” many accounts. I quickly realized many people I had been friends with had transferred my account to a different category on Facebook. I was no longer friends with them, however I still got their notifications. I was essentially now just getting their updates, but they were not getting mine. The interest these people had in me was obviously no longer mutual. I found this as being quite one-sided, disrespectful, and odd. Needless to say I unsubscribed myself from these people as well. Essentially, they saw me more as a fan than a friend, something I didn’t really appreciate.
I think a considerable amount of costumers feel the same way, which is not exactly a healthy thing for the community. I know right before I stopped visiting one prominent costume website a small group of people had stopped supplying any information on how they achieved certain looks or where they bought specific parts for their costumes. It seemed there was a power grab going on, and this small group was setting the trend for the entire site. I had not visited this website for a few years, but a couple of months ago I decided to take a look. Sure enough I found that many people on the site (old and new members) seemed more interested in stroking their ego than being a part of a helpful community. A new standard had been set on the site, and not for the better. At one point in time it had been a place that influenced open discussion and had reliable members, but it seemed to have taken a turn for the worst. It was now more commercialized in appearance, and the members were only thinking of themselves. All they wanted were more views, comments, and followers of their work. They no longer cared for one another like they once had.
Within the same time frame of a few years ago, a handful of people I know had started opening their own Facebook fan pages. Many of the people liking the pages were family or friends, and the pages were not really any different than their own person accounts. Perhaps it was more for fun than anything else. This was a few years ago, and I really did not think anything of it. Flash forward to today, and nearly every costumer I know has their own fan page, if not multiple pages. And believe me, they want you to know they have this page. They actively seek people to like their pages, and even invite you to invite everyone on your friends list to join them as well.
One young woman I know markets herself as a professional costumer, and has had multiple pages. At one point in time she and I had been fairly good friends, however we had not spoken to one another for a while. We went about two years with no contact, but I suddenly got an email from her. There was some small talk exchanged, and out of no where she asked me to give her a costume piece I owned. I told her I was not really in the market to sell it, and she said she would take it for free. I explained to her that I had planned to use it myself (hence owning it), however she did not let up. She then asked for a donation, as to afford said costume piece, but I declined that as well. She then offered several prints (pictures of herself in costume) in exchange for some money, but I still told her no.
To my disbelief, this is a regular occurrence with many of my fellow costumers. Not only do they seek donations for their costumes, but they sometimes rely on monetary assistance from their fans. These funds will either go towards an entire costume, or even a trip to a convention. Neither of these things are cheap considering this hobby, so it was shocking to me that this is a normal occurrence. Selling prints are also a feasible outlet for income, however I would never put a second thought towards buying a picture of someone I know dressed up. If anything I find it a laughing matter. Why would I want a picture of you dressed up? What would I even do with it? Why should I even care? I don’t have answers to any of those questions.
If you do not make costumes for a Hollywood production company, then you are not a celebrity. In fact, even if you actually do work for a business out of Hollywood in the costume or make-up industry, then you’re still probably not a celebrity. Either way, I do not understand why you expect me to enjoy your work so much that I should be one of your followers. I cannot believe how many people believe because they own a nice costume it gives them the right to a higher social status in the costuming community (or even social sphere). This had been a minor issue within the community, however TV shows such as Heroes of Cosplay seems to have spread the aura of D-List costume celebrity personas as being a real thing in the larger world.
Likewise, I think this has influenced costumers (even poor quality ones) to pursue their own little slice of fan following, as they see the same thing happening all around them on the internet. Boring people are making a so-called name for themselves by just owning things. They simply want attention, and for some reason people are giving it to them. I mean, I do understand that some costumes are way better than others, and some people look more like their characters than others, but why be a fan of that? If you like Captain Jack Sparrow, why would you worry about being a fan of costumer Joe Blow? Why not just be a fan of Johnny Depp directly, and cut out the middle man as it were? I understand that everyone want to spread their own brand and make a name for themselves in the process, however not everyone can be a celebrity.
With the advent of every other costumer on my friends list having a page or two, I finally had to ask myself, why are costumers even thought of as something you would be a fan of? Personally I think I would prefer the original as oppose to the knock-off. The thought of someone who dresses up even mildly resembling a celebrity is quite strange to me. Especially when so many people think they are deserving of a page dedicated to their work. Wouldn’t you prefer to share your projects with your friends and family who actually care? Or do you prefer followers and fans?
Personally, I think I will stick to sharing my work on my personal Facebook account, where my family and friends that I care about can check it out it if they want. Thinking that I am worthy of fans does not settle too well with me, and I can say that I am above asking for donations to fund my hobby (nor will I try to sell you prints of my work). I know many people who would disagree with those sentiments, but I just do not look at my craft in the same way. For Facebook, I will stick to being a friend, not a fan.