The Scourge Of Fanboyism

I despise fanboyism.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it’s basically where someone has devoted so much of their time into just following one “expert” on any given thing that they take anything counter to what their favorite personality says as heresy.

While it’s often not these personalities’ faults, it doesn’t change the fact that few supposed experts are willing to admit that other people get stuff right all the time. That, unfortunately, fuels the fanboyism into what should be uncomfortable extremes.

And really, how the hell do people let themselves get to that point?

My own theory is that people find someone they like, someone who somehow speaks to them, and then reads or watches everything that person has to say about the subject.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with that at all.

But the problem shows up when you then take everything that person says as absolute gospel, despite any evidence to the contrary.

One example is Mark Rippetoe’s followers.

Now, I like Rippetoe’s work. I went through the Starting Strength Novice program. It does pretty much what he says it’ll do. It will make you stronger in a short amount of time. In fact, in just a few months, your strength will be fairly respectable when compared to society as a whole.


The problem, however, is that Rippetoe is very dogmatic about what he thinks will work and what won’t. Because of that, many who are first exposed to Rippetoe will fail to understand that much of this is Rippetoe’s opinion. It’s not necessarily based on evidence except what he’s seen in the gym.

That’s bro science, unfortunately.

Now, much of what Rip is dogmatic about is stuff is stuff that works. But because of that, some fanboys will simply think anyone doing anything other than Rip’s program are wasting their time. They attack critics who think there’s a better way. They blast anyone who disagrees as if they’re saying you can get stronger by just drinking McDonald’s chocolate milk shakes.

And Rip’s fanboys aren’t the only fanboys out there.

In the tactical firearms community, this is common as hell. An instructor develops a following, tells it how they believe it is, and then those who like the instructor will go crazy telling everyone else they’re doing it wrong.

Hell, even woodworking has these people.

But at the end of the day, the real problem is that people aren’t thinking for themselves. They’re outsourcing that process to a so-called expert (many of whom aren’t, at least in fitness) and just regurgitating what their “sensei” tells them.

And, to be honest, when someone is first starting out in any community, it becomes pretty easy to become a fanboy. As a neophyte woodworker, I have a writer whose style speaks to me and whose thinking is closely in-line with my own.

However, I go out of my way to not be a fanboy of his. I actively question everything he does and ask myself why I want to do what he’s saying to do.

Oh, I still find myself doing the same stuff, but mostly because he presents it with logic and defends his position in a way that I generally find myself agreeing with. But I refuse to do something just because he says to do it.

Meanwhile, though, you also have to avoid the backlash effect.

This is what happens when you try so hard to not be a fanboy that you don’t do something simply because a given person advocates for it.

I get it. Some people are so stupid you almost have to question them, even if they say you need to breathe to survive. I get it.

But on the same token, you still have to breathe.

The trick is to be open minded enough that ideas can get in but your brain doesn’t fall out. That means learning how to evaluate information and learn to assess it’s validity. That also means testing and see what works and what doesn’t.

In the end, though, you have to be you. You need to be an individual, not a robot parroting some expert’s opinion without a thought of your own. Evaluate everything you see, hear, or read. If you try something, evaluate it honestly, not from a perspective of “Oh, this has to be right. Person X said it was.”

That’s not to say you can’t trust any expert. Nothing of the sort.

But make them earn your trust. Then follow that with your own evaluations process. Deadlifts are awesome exercises, for example, unless they’re not for you. If that’s the case, then don’t do them. You’re you, not the person a given expert thinks you are.

Stop being a sheep. Be you.

Author: Tom

Tom is a husband, father, novelist, opinion writer, and former Navy Corpsman currently living in Georgia. He's also someone who has lost almost 60 pounds in a safe, sustainable way, so he knows what he's talking about.

4 thoughts on “The Scourge Of Fanboyism”

  1. I’ve noticed that Ole Rip is pretty dogmatic, the same as Jim Wendler (5/3/1) and his followers. I like to take some and leave some. By the way, I’ve been considering visiting Rip’s gym here in Texas. His power lifting meets substitute the shoulder press for bench, which I think is a cool idea. Good post.

    1. Yeah, they call them “strength meets,” which are interesting.

      And you’re right. Rip and Wendler both do it, though in fairness, they’re hardly alone in the fitness world in such a regard.

        1. Precisely.

          And even being called “doctor” doesn’t mean much since so many who legitimately earned that title disagree completely on some fairly major things.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *