I want to discuss how some fans have claimed that 9/11 has created an impact on fandom attitudes, as mentioned on this Fanlore page
and this Tumblr post
To be blunt, I find the opinion that 9/11 has had any direct and effectual impact on today's fannish attitudes to be incredibly fallible.
This supposed new attitude is that the results of 9/11 has directly influenced later fandom—say, those born in 1996 and later—to be concerned (overtly and disingenuously) with the "safety" of people within fannish spaces, while the generation that entered or were in fannish spaces prior were much more concerned with discussion, freedom, and freedom of speech. These fans claim that the concern of safety at the expense of speech or expression is part of the aftermath of 9/11 and has directly been transferred to post-9/11 fandom.
The most glaring problem I have with this claim is that if 9/11 truly did influence fandom at such a scale, you would see it only amongst American fans; and it would be a very alienated perspective with non-American and older American fans. However, I've seen the concern of "safety" in fandom among Australian fans, European fans, Singaporean fans, Brazilian fans, and fans from many other countries. For 9/11 to have the effect that many claim it does, the result would have to be uniquely American. And if one specifically American event has had an impact on global fandom, it would also have to be argued that events from other global powers around the world have created a similar impact.
And I'm not saying that that's not possible. It's certainly a probability that many world events have affected fannish attitudes—the 2016 election, the 2010 Haiti earthquake. But this is why I have issue with the idea that 9/11 was so influential on fannish attitude - it whittles down the views of a very broad demographic to be the result of this single event, not to mention that it is very American-centric and neglects to discuss the effect of any other factor at play.
I don't have any sources at the moment (aside from my non-American friends), but from my own experiences with fandom interaaction, I don't think that the concern of "safety" within fandom is a uniquely American (and post-9/11) experience—I have encountered non-Americans and older fans who also have this attitude, as well as younger fans who do care more about freedom of speech than safety, though both are admittedly minority opinions within their demographic. But I think the recent concern of "safety" has come as a result of changing platforms. I've discussed this at length
—but tl;dr, fans migrating from platform from platform, from LJ/individual-focused spaces to more communal and immediate spaces like Twitter/Tumblr/AO3, does
have evidential impact on fans, in that recent discussions of "safety" have primarily arisen on the platforms in question.
It's likely not the only
factor, but the move from individual spaces to communal newsfeeds is so drastically obvious, as compared to a supposed attitude shift come post-9/11.
I'm not saying that the (though very American) event hasn't had any effect on fandom at all—just not at the scale that many claim. Where past discussions within fandom have been much about censorship
, the migration of discourse to morality and safety
I think has very little to do with the September 11th attacks. I'm not trying to disparage those who have
been affected by it, in a fannish sense or not, and for whom these factors coexist—but there is not much basis for its global, non-American fandom influence without disregarding many other factors at play.