This sounds a good name for one of those modern metal bands, or it could make a good song title!
Anyway, the point of this article is I’m finally coming out of the dark about some experiences I never thought I would re-share. A subject I thought I would never talk about ever again online because I was always afraid of those who targeted me would find me again.
In late 2013, I started listening to a Swedish band called Ghost. They were more of a niche band back in the day, and now they’ve become really popular. In case you don’t know them, here they are.
I came to love them for their rather unexpected, yet authentic sound. Looking at their image, did you really expect them to have clear-sounding vocals? That was the era that their music was more vocal-focused than what it is now.
During those years of my life, I was a naive fan who wanted to get into the community a lot whenever I got into a new band. I loved to meet other fans and knew that I was not alone. But unfortunately, the experience taught me that I could not befriend everyone and that not everyone was friendly and welcoming.
In April 2014 I was very lucky to see the band come to play live in the local big city. I pushed one of my friends to go with me, and we were really close to the front row before securing it at GWAR later that year.
The concert was a great experience where I managed to make my way to the front and was noticed a few times by the singer. I had a thing for him back then and managed to blow a kiss at him when he looked in my direction, he caught it which made me fangirl hardcore. That was the first time I was noticed on stage by one of the band members at a concert, so it’s pretty clear that I’d be excited about that and want to share the experience.
Also, there is another thing which I think contributed to cyberbullying: just a few days before the concert, the band’s Facebook page shared a video called Papaganda Part 2, like its predecessor, the video was meant to kind of go behind the scenes and cover the personality of the lead singer’s character offstage at that time. I did not like how the second video showed him partying after a concert, drinking, and hooking up with two girls which he took back to his hotel room and shared my opinion of it on Twitter and this blog that I did not like that form of lifestyle and way of having fun.
After the concert, I shared the story of course. I was also a member of a couple of Ghost Facebook groups so I shared it there too. I cannot remember completely, but I’m pretty sure when other fans shared similar experiences at their own rituals, I would say I was happy for them, and told them something like that happened to me as well so that we had something to talk about together, to fangirl over you know.
Maybe I was being a little selfish and bragging, but admit it, if you experienced something that never happened before and it made you so happy, wouldn’t you talk about it a lot too? There’s no shame in that.
Unfortunately, this fangirl approach, along with my neediness to befriend everyone, and my opinion on Papaganda Part 2 video, is what triggered the bullying.
And the surprising thing is that it was not conducted by lots of people, but only from a few fans. But these fans were so harsh to me for some reason that it really tore me apart.
I’m not going to give out any details about these two fans but I will tell you what happened.
The first was someone who one day decided to follow me on Twitter. When I shared my opinion about the Papaganda video, she contacted me on Twitter clearly disagreeing with my opinion saying that Ghost’s songs always had a hidden sexual theme and the drinking, partying, and hookups were part of the persona. She made several replies explaining that and to me seemed clearly upset about it based on her chosen words, I answered that while I understood where she was coming from, if she really had a problem with what I was tweeting, she could leave at any time.
Instead of leaving, she persisted telling me to “get my head out of my ass” as well as stop fangirling constantly about my first ritual. One of her friends stepped in to break up the argument and she seemingly apologized and I forgot about the incident.
Sometime later, there were two more fans who came in to be nasty to me. Both of them messaged me directly. She started bossing me around to stop mentioning her in comments on Facebook groups and YouTube pages when I was answering questions other fans. Well, the reasons why I was telling other fans to confide in her was she seemed to have a lot of knowledge about the band, so I don’t see what’s wrong with that, and just like the other fan, she once again ordered me to stop bragging about the kiss thing. I tried to reassure her that I was helping fans steer them in the right direction for answers and that I did not appreciate her ordering me around because that was my experience and I can talk about whatever I like. She freaked out and thought I was a crazy person and declared me blocked.
Then, finally the third bully was a fan who appeared to be a bit of a joker. He went on to brag to me about how he met the band after the show and used “lol” in every DM he typed on Facebook. He said I should “shut the fuck up” about the singer catching my kiss until I had a chance to meet the band. I stood up for myself but clearly he did not comply so I had to block him. I also blocked him on Instagram after he found me on there and left a rather horny comment on one of my pictures.
But that is not where my troubles ended. Eventually on Twitter again, the first fan who started to bully me struck again more than once to a point where I started documenting the incidents on MS Word just in case I needed to file a report, possibly to the police. I was venting how frustrated I was with people telling me how to behave in a band fandom, although I don’t recall any rules stating that fangirling and fantasizing is forbidden in such an environment. She came back and said that it would stop if I did stop that behavior, at that time all I can remember was pretending to acknowledge her because part of me at that time believed that this would all die down, but clearly I was wrong. After that, it just became worse.
Back when I used Twitter, it was my main venting tool about things that frustrated me in life, and sometimes back then, I wasn’t very good with my choice of words. This particular fan decided to target me every time she saw me do that and whenever she did, her words really cut deep.
First she would tell me to stop using harsh language, and then eventually she started to say that I disgusted her and that I was a vile and horrible human being that needed to grow up. She would also tell me that the members of Ghost themselves would hate me because of some things I fantasized about at that time related to them. Like the fanfiction my friend from France wrote about me becoming Ghost’s queen of darkness or something.
Holding back tears, I would continue to stand up for myself and tell her to leave me alone. One time I even asked her why she hated me so much despite that I had never done anything to her that would have made her hate me. She answered that she couldn’t stand me because of how I “handled” differing opinions but left without further explanation. I blocked her on all social media platforms I used for good after that.
Since then, I have never talked about these incidents with anyone except really close friends within the fandom or outside it out of fear of the harassment from these particular individuals resurfacing.
When I wanted to talk about the lawsuit filed a few years ago by former band members, I was afraid the harassment was going to restart when I saw the comments on the article; one with wording that reminded me of the bully from Twitter.
I deleted that article.
Since then I felt like I had slightly lost interest in Ghost because of these harsh incidents. I completely withdrew from sharing things about them and sometimes merely listening to their music reminded me of those memories.
It wasn’t until I got to see Ghost again in 2016 did I remember what it was like to love them. But, I still kept myself reserved out of fear.
It kind of feels like the bullies won in the end because all they wanted was for me to be quiet. But what was I supposed to do? Let them keep harassing me with no end in sight? The only thing I could do to stop them was to block them.
Now, I know like it may seem like this article is just me victimizing myself and looking for attention but trust me, it’s not. I wouldn’t share bullying and harassment experiences on my blog unless it actually happened, and it did.
I’m breaking the silence now to make all of you aware that bullying and bossing people around in fandoms should not be tolerated or accepted just because it’s the Internet. Fandoms should be welcoming places for people of the same interests to get together and discuss the things they love, dislike, and support one another. There is no rule as to how fans should behave.
There is nothing wrong with fangirling over your favorite band in a way that involves screaming during a concert that a band member noticed you in the audience, or writing fanfiction about being the princess or mistress of your favourite band member. You have the RIGHT to behave that way as long as you are not hurting anyone or trying to force a relationship with a band member in real life when they might already have a partner.
I know that anyone who reads this might tell me not to let a small number of assholes get to me, and it’s true, I shouldn’t have back then. In fact, there were way more nicer people that I met in the Ghost fandom. A couple of them I am still friends with today in fact, one of them got into Ghost through me and now it’s her favourite band!
And there you have it, the silence has been broken. I’m going to be watching the comments in this article like a hawk because the last thing I want is another recurrence of the bullying to begin.
I’m sorry that this article had to be extremely long, but I really needed to get this story out to raise awareness that this type of behavior online in fandoms is NOT acceptable and neither myself nor anyone in any fandom deserves to be bossed around or called names just because they like to fantasize and have different opinions.
Thank you for understanding.