Finding Belonging with Taylor Swift
The collective power of the Swifties have propelled Taylor Swift to break numerous records upon the release of her latest album: most-streamed album in a single day on Spotify, biggest pop album of all time by first-day streams on Apple Music, and the first artist ever to take all 10 top spots on the Billboard Hot 100.
But the Swifties are doing more than just pumping record sales - they’re finding belonging.
The Swifties community centers around fan interaction with Taylor Swift: following her on social media, liking and commenting on her pictures, and posting content about her. These interactions facilitate “parasocial relationships” which are one-sided relationships with emotional attachment from a fan to a public figure (Derrick et al., 2008).
Despite being symbolic, these bonds actually feel psychologically real and can fulfill social needs (Gabriel et al., 2016).
The Swifties are engaging in parasocial relationships which provide a sense of belonging and connection that they might not otherwise have. In a world where we are increasingly disconnected from the people around us, these one-sided relationships can be a lifeline. They give us someone to admire and look up to, someone to feel close to. They give us belonging.
These parasocial relationships have been shown to be just as effective at fostering belonging and fulfilling social needs as traditional relationships (Gabriel et al., 2016).
The Swifties are engaging in a one-sided relationship: in exchange for propelling Taylor Swift to extraordinary heights, they receive a sense of belonging.
If only she figured out a better ticketing solution…