The Benefits of Being Late to the Party

If you’ve been around the site recently, you may have seen my posts about fandom bandwagons I’ve jumped on way after everyone else (and if you’ve read any of my other stuff, you’ve almost certainly seen me allude to my tendency to do this). For someone who experiences intense FOMO pretty much all the time, it’s a bit ironic that I have this proclivity, but so it is. Is it due to laziness? Elitism? Happenstance? I may never know. But what I do know is that it’s been this way long enough that I’ve learned a thing or two about the ways this habit of mine is more a blessing than a curse.A drawing of a woman sitting at a desk with a concerned expression is on the right side of the image; on the left, text reads "It's cool, I'll just sit here nursing my FOMO."

Many times in the past, I’ve felt silly for taking so long to get on board with a new fandom, especially when it seems everyone around me knows about all the cool new things before I’ve even heard of them (does this mean I know a lot of hipsters? Maybe). But the longer it’s gone on, the more I’ve realized that my tendency take my time is almost all pros, and very few cons. As I see it, the only real downside is that I’m much more at risk for seeing spoilers before I get around to watching/reading/playing the new thing and have to avoid certain corners of the internet if I don’t want to ruin it for myself (a pretty significant downside, considering my hatred of spoilers, but still). Well, that and the fact that I end up having to endure an endless refrain of “You haven’t seen/played/read it yet? What’s wrong with you?/do you live under a rock?/we can’t be friends anymore lol.” But as truly infuriating as those things are, they can’t overshadow the sweet, sweet benefits that come with waiting a while to try the next new thing.

First, there’s the fact that waiting until something’s been out for some time will ensure that you know about all the bugs in the system before you jump in. Did a new gaming console come out that you can’t afford right now or don’t feel like getting yet? By the time you get one, all the glitches will probably have been fixed (and it will likely cost less to boot). Is there a new anime series that looks interesting? If you wait to watch it, you’ll hear about how there are a bunch of filler episodes you can skip, or how there’s a story arc that’s not worth your time. Basically, this means that you can maximize your enjoyment of the new fandom while avoiding all the nonsense that the early adopters had to wade through. The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets to skip all the crap. Trust.

Beyond that, there’s the matter of access. Say there’s a show everyone’s talking about — if you wait a while to watch it, even if it hasn’t been released a whole season at a time a la Netflix original series, then you can binge-watch it to your heart’s content. Or if a book series is already complete, you don’t have to wait ages for the next installment to come out while you sit in agonized suspense longing to find out what happens next; you can just read the books one right after the other if you want (gloating to your friends who started reading them right away is optional, but generally recommended). And perhaps best of all, when it comes time for you to find a copy of Cool New Thing X, you can buy a used one on the cheap, or borrow it from a friend who already has it. Call it laziness, call it delayed instant gratification, call it whatever you want — all I know is that I’m a huge fan of this approach, and I’ve never truly regretted taking it.

Alistair from Dragon Age gazing to the left with a disgusted expression

Swooping is…bad. So is shaming someone for not liking something as soon as you did.
(Credit: BioWare)

And then there’s the fact that as a Johnny-come-lately, geeking out with other people in the fandom is so much more satisfying. Like, for real, you guys. Whether you’re live-messaging your friends about the awesomeness that is Dragon Age (*cough* guilty *cough*), talking about which of your Game of Thrones fan theories came true, or discussing the topic of how the Harry Potter series is amazing despite its plethora of gaping plot holes, it’s gonna be a good time for everyone. As long as your friends aren’t too jaded and too-cool-for-school to squee with you about the new thing you’ve gotten into (which, if they are, y’all need to give them a talking to), you get the joy of experiencing how great a fandom is for the first time while having your friends go “I know, right?!” whenever you talk to them about what you love about it, and your friends get the opportunity to relive its amazingness, all while remembering what it was like when they fell in love with it. As I see it, it’s a win-win for everybody.

And so, my friends, you may disagree with these points, and you may think I’m a bit silly or lackadaisical for doing things this way — that’s just fine (in fact, I get it). But regardless of how silly or strange it may seem, this strategy totally works for me — and, I suspect, for a lot of you as well. And while there are certainly upsides and fun aspects about jumping on board with something right from the beginning, you can keep your ability to do that all for yourself — I’ll just be over here, enjoying the heck out of great fandoms in my own way. Several years later, that is.

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