06th Oct2011

Online Groups Making a Difference

by sam

In Group Dynamics by Katelyn McKenna and Amie Green, a group is defined as consisting of “two or more individuals interacting in such a manner that each person is influenced by and exerts influence on the other individuals”.  They also go on to explain that people join groups both in the real world and the virtual world to achieve goals.  With the invention of the social media, it has become much easier for people to become involved in groups that include others from around the world who have the same interests.  In another reading, Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations by Clay Shirky, there is an explanation of how Flickr makes it easy for people to allow their photos to be combined with others of the same topic by using tags.  These tagged photos create a group of people who all share an interest in that topic and in one case generated a conversation and a connection between them.  Eventually these people arranged a meeting as a result of these shared tags.  It changed the order of group formation from gather, then share” into “share, then gather”.

There are many groups online dedicated to discussing and analyzing any and every television show.  The show Lost has one of the biggest online followings because it created such a hype and a lot of confusion when it was still airing.  If you type in TV Show Lost groups you will be bombarded with general groups for people who like lost as well as specific groups for people who are “devoted to literary references in the TV show LOST.” I actually watched the whole series after it had stopped airing on ABC so when I was confused about something that had happened on the show (and this was very often do to the craziness and unpredictability of the show) I had a plethora of different fan sites with discussions and debates over what happened to look through.

Group Dynamics mentions that groups entail “sharing to cooperation to collective action” and I have recently seen this happen twice.  After Betty White was in a commercial during the Super Bowl there was a group formed on Facebook to convince SNL to make her the host of an episode.  After only 2 and a half months the group had several hundred thousand members (me included). They then announced that Betty White would be hosting the May 8th show.  It shows how powerful virtual groups can be.

Another example of virtual groups making an impact is the I WANT MY 90’s NICKELODEON BACK group on Facebook.  The group has over 1 million followers and this summer Nickelodeon began airing the 90’s Nick shows from midnight to 2 am on weekdays to accomodate the 17-24 year olds who have been asking for them.  A few days ago Nickelodeon released that they are going to start airing the shows earlier (10 pm) as well because of the great ratings and success they have had with the reruns.  I know I also belonged to this group and had my tivo set for every episode they played.  My brother and I love watching them together and catching references to the 90’s that went over our heads back in the day. Entertainment Weekly says, “TeenNick says The ‘90s Are All That has scored huge gains for the net, posting double-digit increases over last year (50%) among adults 18-34 in the time period.”

Bottom line is, if you want to get something accomplished….start a Facebook group!