I’m not surprising anyone when I say that a lot of anime and manga fans are hardcore…really, really hardcore. I call anyone who would trek halfway across the country to get an autograph from his/her favorite voice actor or make and wear a homemade costume of his/her favorite character a fanatic. But what’s the difference between that and, say, someone who’s crazy about football, basketball, baseball, or soccer to the point of rioting? (*cough* World Cup *cough*) Why do we create a hierarchy when it comes to fanaticism?
“Activities that are engaged in by the majority of people tend to get mass approval compared to those that are niche activities,” says Dr. Mark Griffiths, director of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University. He notes that he’s “never operationally defined fanaticism,” but that it’s “basically the extreme liking of something (e.g., pop group, soccer team, stamp collecting, etc).”
In two case studies on online gamers who both played up to 14 hours a day, Griffiths found that one was addicted and the other was not. Why? Because the addicted one’s game playing had an adverse effect on his entire life. “The difference between healthy enthusiasms and addictions are that healthy enthusiasms (i.e., most fanatical activities) add to life whereas addictions take away from it,” he says.
In a July 2009 article in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction on those case studies, Griffiths lays out the criteria for addiction: salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, conflict, and relapse. (He reiterated this in a blog post on soccer fanaticism a couple of months ago.) Interesting stuff. These could certainly be applied to almost anything, including anime and manga, no? I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I’m still pretty new at fangirling, but I work hard to maintain that delicate balance between my professional side and my “ship squee glomp” side. What do you do to maintain your balance?