Want to make new friends? Talk about your favorite TV shows online
New research published today identifies how watching fictional television series and participating in online forums that are dedicated to the shows can help female audiences express themselves and feel a sense of belonging to a community.
According to an article published in the National Communication Association’s Critical Studies in Media Communication, these online communities give women a significant degree of group identification as they self-reflect and swap opinions with others about the storylines of the TV shows.
Analysis of more than 7,800 comments on social media and other online forums revealed that the women in these digital communities expressed themselves specifically through their emotional ties with a television series, contributing to a sense of belonging based on their mutual enjoyment of the TV shows. Of more than 2,500 fans whose comments were reviewed, 44.6 percent expressed a feeling of belonging.
As an example, researchers highlighted one fan who commented online, “Now that [TV show] has finished, I’m going to miss the forum. I’ve met such lovely people who episode by episode have forged an everlasting friendship.”
Lead author Prof Charo Lacalle of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona writes, “This research has helped us to understand in what way domestic fiction communities created on the internet differ from traditional cult fandoms and what type of actions female social spectators carry out to create and maintain a feeling of community. Previous research has been heavily focused on more traditional cult fandom who are typically seen as obsessive fans and geeks. We wanted to understand the more spontaneous fans, and why they choose to take part in such online discussion, and now we understand why that is.”