The Star Wars fandom is like a family to many. Star Wars are the movies that many of us grew up watching, and thus have great memories attached. As with any fandom, the feelings of intense joy and commitment to the object of the fandom is strong.
The type of community felt by those within the Star Wars fandom is arguably similar to the sense of community felt in other popular fandoms, such as Harry Potter and Dr. Who –as they all revolve around geek culture and stories brought to life by actors in movies or television shows. Something common in fandoms that cements the strong feelings of community is the shared knowledge of content from the movie. This results in many inside jokes and shared laughter.
The feelings of community in the Star Wars fandom have some similarities as well as some differences with other communities based around the mutual appreciation of something. For instance, non-online groups of people who may feel similar feelings community include those who play fun online bingo games, or card games like bridge together. Even though these are not team games, such as soccer or cricket, many report feeling a strong sense of community. This is due to the shared time doing the same activity in the same location. However, the sense of community within the Star Wars fandom differs as the fandom stretches across the world and is not defined by the need to be in the same place, participating in the same activity.
Feeling accepted and part of a community, whether it is an online fandom, or a real life club or activity based hobby -they both fulfil the same human need for seeing themselves reflected in others in a positive manner that reaffirms who they are and what they enjoy doing. Due to the fact that many children in high school get teased for liking science fiction and other so-called ‘nerdy’ topics, having an online community of like-minded individuals can be incredibly beneficial for those who have been subjected to unkind words or bullying in the past. If you are a sixteen-year-old, living in a small town where everyone plays football and you are more interested in science fiction literature and films, life can be incredibly lonely. The fact that people with shared interests are now able to find each other and connect through the internet –all while sharing their love for Star Wars, is a wonderful thing.
There are some people who are hyper critical about any group of people online, fandom or not, who claim to be a community. This is because an online community takes the traditional meaning of the word community and adapts it to our increasingly globalized and digitally connected world. The sense of community felt by those in the Star Wars fandom is there for a reason –because we are a community, united across different countries and cultures, and bound by our love for the greatness that is Star Wars.