Problematic Fans 101.2 – Tips and tactics for handling problematic fans
In part one of this series, I discussed how to distinguish between the various types of problematic fans and the wide range of problematic behaviors. Here, we’ll focus on how you can deal with these problematic fans in ways that are emotionally healthy, physically safe, and bring glory to God.
As previously discussed, the root of the problem may be that you’re envious of another fan’s resources (such as the gifts they give to the performer) or opportunities (meeting or otherwise being acknowledged by the performer). If resentment is part of the issue, cultivate a grateful heart by thanking God for what He has given you in regards to this performer. Have you seen them in concert? Do you own an autographed poster or CD? Even the simple fact of having access to their music and videos is a cause for thanksgiving. As it says in 1 Chronicles 16:34, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
Also, just as a fire dies down if you stop giving it wood to burn, envy dies down if you stop providing it with fuel. You may need to stop following certain fans on social media, especially if you’re having a strong emotional response to what they post.
Lastly, it’s important to remember that no one has a perfect life. The fan that you may be discovering you’re envious of may be struggling in other areas – they may have issues at work, home, or school, a mental or physical illness they’re dealing with, or financial problems. The happy moments we share on social media are not necessarily the norm in our lives.
Online bullying, harassment, and drama
You’ve reached out to the recipient of the bullying or harassment as described in part one and they’ve welcomed your public support. It’s very easy to get carried away in this regard, especially if the fan being bullied is a family member or close friend. As such, it’s wise to keep Proverbs 17:27 in mind: “The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.”
Stick to the facts and refrain from bringing your emotions into the mix. The purpose of your communication is not to insult them back or get revenge for the person they hurt – that’s God’s responsibility, not yours (Rom. 12:19). Your goal is to make it clear that their behavior is unacceptable while still leaving room for the person to apologize and repent.
It is important to note that not every instance of online bullying is worth addressing. Some fans thrive on drama and have a history of stirring up conflict or seeking sympathy. Be careful that you are not manipulated into engaging with them. Your time and energy are better spent elsewhere.
Swindling, threats, and criminal activity
As discussed in part one, do not engage the person perpetrating this behavior, as they may target you as well.
First, assemble your evidence. Here are the basics to consider:
- For swindling: offline copies or screenshots of merchandise listings, fraudulent fan support or charity project websites, and anything posted on social media in relation to the swindle (shipping dates for merchandise, donation updates for a project, complaints or comments from customers). Also take note of the account names and online IDs they’re using.
- For threats: screenshots of the threatening social media posts, including the dates and times they were posted. Also take note of the account names and online IDs they’re using.
- For criminal activity: receipts for purchases and transactions you didn’t make, notifications of services you didn’t sign up for, and notifications of unauthorized access to your bank and social media accounts, including the dates and times that these occurred.
- In all cases, it’s helpful if you can find out the perpetrator’s location.
Second, contact the proper authorities:
- For swindling: After assembling your evidence, contact the person you believe is trying to swindle you and politely express your concerns. If they refuse to address them, contact the service through which they’re selling or accepting donations. These sites rely heavily on their reputations to secure business, so they have policies in place for dealing with fraudulent users. You may also want to report the social media accounts associated with the fraudulent activities to the respective social media services.
- For threats and criminal activity: Call the non-emergency number for your local police (unless you believe your immediate safety is in danger) and report the situation, making sure they know you have evidence. They may have a limited ability to pursue the case depending on the issue and where the perpetrator is located, but at least there will be a record of it and they can advise you of what further action to take. Ask the police if you should report the perpetrator’s social media accounts to the appropriate social media services (they may want to take a look at the accounts themselves before they’re suspended) and then act accordingly.
- For criminal activity relating to your finances: Contact your bank, credit card company, and any other necessary financial institutions to file claims against the unauthorized activity. Make sure to change your account passwords and security questions.
In regards to threats or criminal activity against performers, the same procedure applies: collect evidence, then contact the appropriate authorities. The most effective way for such issues to be resolved is for the performer or their company to file the complaint. Some performers have even sought their fans’ assistance in gathering evidence. In the United States, police can prohibit potentially dangerous fans from contacting performers via social media, with penalties in place should that prohibition be violated. For more information about the real-life repercussions of what fans post on social media, you may want to read this post as well.
Overall, the most important thing to remember in regards to dealing with problematic fans is that, as Christians, we are called to be different from the world (Rom. 12:1-2). We are called to bring glory to God by treating others with respect and kindness, not to retaliate with damaging words and behaviors that make us no better (and perhaps even worse) than the problematic fan we’re trying to deal with. This does not mean we sacrifice our personal safety or emotional or spiritual well-being, but it does mean that we prayerfully consider our words and actions before we engage and recognize when the situation should be handled by an authority, whether earthly or heavenly. Make it your practice to always pray before you post.
– Teresa Santoski
Looking for more godly encouragement geared specifically toward performers and fans? Check out Prayers for Oppa, my performer/fan devotional, which features prayers and Bible verses on Good Health, Performance Safety, Loneliness, and other topics of interest to performers and their fans. For more information, including a sample chapter and how/where to purchase, click here.