Lately, I have been very interested in the Netflix series titled Orange Is The New Black (OITNB). This show follows an inmate throughout her prison sentence. It is a very addictive program, as there is a strong plot line, and I always am itching to learn more. For this post, I have looked around the internet and found a fansite for OITNB. This site is located on Facebook, and anyone can simply like their page and post and comment as they please. I do not know who created or oversees this fan page; however, it has created a strong community of people that share an interest in the show.
There are many reasons why I would consider this Facebook page to be a community. First off, as Park’s discussed in his article titled Social Network Sites as Virtual Communities, communities can be anything with social or mediated ties between people. In the Facebook fan page, there are definitely ties being built by fans through a mediated context. Although the users are not necessarily in close geographical proximity and probably will never meet face to face, they still use other means, such as messaging, commenting, and liking photos to build close bonds with one another. Continuing on, this fan page can be seen as a community because it is highly self-sufficient. There is no need for someone to tell the fans to log on at a certain time and post a certain amount of items, they simply do it on their own. This is enough to keep the site active and flourishing. Moreover, users/fans are able to engage in collective action on this site. If someone post’s a scenario or question or photo, fans come together to either answer the question or provide feedback on a posted item. Even though they are not talking verbally to one another about what to do to keep the community alive, everyone seems to know when to post and what to post. Likewise, this Facebook page shows a strong community because all of the users have a strong common interest. All of the fans enjoy the show OITNB and they can relate to one another based on the plots, characters, and twists. Users post pictures into the site of their favorite characters, and other fans tend to comment/like to show their shared interest. All of the users seem to feel a large sense of belonging, as this is one place they can go to seek support from other fans. In this community they are not made fun of for being very into a show, and they can express their ideas with other avid watchers. Overall, I think that the fans on this site feel a strong sense of community. They know that they have a voice on the page, and that their comments and posts will be recognized and appreciated.
I find it very cool that sites like this exist. Although I am not an avid watcher, I do feel like I could it into this online community. If I had a question about the show I know I could post it in the site and many other members would be willing to answer it or me. I have also checked out other fan sites and there are many other locations where you can find forums for OITNB where fans write alternative plot lines for the show. This, too, resembles a strong community.