What comes from fandom’s advances in social networking sites?

To break this week’s topic down to its basic form, what is fandom? I mean we are all fans of something and we may like this or be interested in that, but how do we know what fandom we are part of? In Nancy Baym’s article “The new shape of online community: The examples of Swedish independence music fandom,” she says that while it is not clearly defined, most people seem to agree that it involves “a collective of people organized socially around their shared appreciation of a pop culture object or objects.” It is a place where we can be a convergence culture in which we also have shared identities.

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So, how have we gotten to the fandom communities that we have today? The answer to that is simply fan activity through the advances of the internet. Because we all have a smart phone or a computer, we are able to instantly look on our Facebook or Twitter feed and connect with what/those people we are fans of. The accessibility is at our finger tips. While it used to take weeks for a new newsletter or package to arrive from your N*SYNC fan club, you can now find out information (and then some) about them. While your “behind the scenes” set pictures of Friends might have taken weeks to arrive in your mailbox, (almost) anything and everything about the show can be found on the internet. Are you curious how the writers came up with the idea for smelly cat? Well, had you written this question to your Friends fan club in 1998, you can now Google it and it’s a quick find.

 

For the Friends fans out there:

 

Because everything is so accessible and fast paced today, we can look something up we are curious about, be it a band or TV show, and the answer is somewhere out there online. Not only that, but bands and producers of TV shows and movies are creating Twitter accounts and making Facebook pages for fans. Baym states about the Social Networking Sites, “most interfaces encourage people to list or friend the bands they like in constructing their on-site identity.” I know that for me, this is quite helpful. I am one of those fans that gets excited seeing new information posted from a TV show or band. I think it’s the sense of insight I get and that it helps enhance my brain’s database of the show or band. I mean, we all (on some level) want to know all that we can about the things we are interested in. If not, you come off as unintelligent on the subject and maybe even a n00b *gasp*. But as I mentioned before, it’s also a place of shared identity.

Although, with this close connection to [that of which you are a fan of] you can feel a close bond to what you find to be so dear and important to your life. I know that I have made some connections with bands and actors that would not be possible had it not been for MySpace and Twitter (and people’s kind hearted souls). Being friends with the Carter Hulsey band and Erik Griffin (Montez from Comedy Central’s Workaholics) not only lets me interact with the music and shows that I like, but can help with my career as well. Being a RTVF major it’s evident that being a fan of music and movies has led me to the career path that I am on. So with the accessibility of all these fandoms I am not only able to gawk about the third season of American Horror Story and connect with others about it, I am able to connect with people involved in its creation and production.

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One Response to What comes from fandom’s advances in social networking sites?

  1. I definitely agree with you obviously about how social media has affects and continues to affect fandom, but how it also provides fans with more information than would have ever been accessible. I’m one of those people who obsesses over a show or movie for a while and researches ANY and EVERY thing I can find on it: when and how the show/movie was filmed, actor interviews, actor biographies, EVERYTHING…it’s actually kind of sickening. [holds head in shame.] For example, Beyonce is my all time FAVORITE singer/performer… I am a stan, and just like with any other stan, Beyonce can do no wrong in my eyes. To keep up with my stalkerish fan ways, I make sure to stay connected to anything Beyonce related: her twitter [which she never tweets from but the fact that she has one, is enough for me], her Tumblr, her personal Instagram, the Beyonce Lite instagram and twitter page [beyonce pics& news 24/7; 365]; I’m a subscribed member on her official website… literally ANYTHING beyonce related, I know about and am apart of. This is only possible because of social networking sites, pictures of Beyonce and her daughter hit the twitter streets, before it hits anything else. That quick accessibility, is why, fandoms are constantly growing.

    Going back to how you mentioned how social media sites like Twitter and Facebook have been a networking platform for you is a benefit that sometimes gets lost when discussing Web 2.0. Just like you, I have made several ‘connections’ from celebrity bloggers to rising stars; and getting a retweet or mention has become something like a personal achievement with Web 2.0. [A few months ago, actress Keke Palmer retweeted a tweet I made of her, and because of that, I gained like 20 more followers in a matter of minutes]. Social media sites has gotten to the point to where if you aren’t part of the community, then you aren’t apart of “life”, to say the least.

    Social media sites have blurred the line of what is too personal and what’s not, because it’s so easy for fans to connect with their favorites. We are able to know every move our favorite celebrity makes with the help of a post or tweet. Although social networking sites may have its downfalls, I think that at the end of the day, its positives and benefits weigh more because of the networking opportunities that stem from it.

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