I'm hella curious about where the fandom generation gap started too, because I'm only 19 and i grew up with the fiction isn't reality rule just kind of assumed on ffnet, from around 14 onwards. I genuinely think it is because of tumblr, not ao3 or any other site. Tumblr took a big swing towards social justice in 2014 ish. But tumblr.. does not actually organise political activism. Tumblr "activism" became "taking a moral high ground in fandom to feel like a Good Person"
Tumblr does seem to be a common thread in many of the changes that have happened in fandom recently. There is no real permanence of posts, no accessible archiving and the setup for discussion is terrible. The natural enculturation of newer fans into fandom etiquette and attitudes by older ones that used to happen on venues like LJ, mailing lists and forums doesn’t seem very possible here. Newer fans find like-minded people, and aren’t exposed enough to other people to see the ‘live and let live’ attitude that was previously common. They don’t learn to understand what was previously generally understood.
Today’s fandom newcomers also have the benefit of not having to hide their fandom for fear of C&D letters, stigma or harassment. There is no more attitude of mutual support because we’re all ‘sick, sad freaks’ together in the eyes of the world. I do believe youth has a part to play. The newer (often younger) fans latching onto to what they think is social justice is pretty usual adolescent behavior. Harassing people over their ships is the new mocking people over their sneakers. Anything that makes them feel superior and more secure about their rapidly changing place in the big, scary world…
Allowances for youthful stupidity aside, I will never find en masse harassment of fic writers to be okay. Comparisons to
Hydra Cap and 50 Shades are pointless. We the consumers have a right to
say we don’t like it. And then? We boycott. Don’t like, don’t read/watch. Let it fade by unpopularity.
You don’t threaten people with rape and death, especially not when fandom people already had their methods in place, the tags, the ratings, the warnings etc to indicate that they are much more aware about the implications of their content that most of mainstream media. The message was there. It’s not fandom creators’ fault that the consumers didn’t learn to read it.