Everyone is passionate about something, which gets amplified when fans meet likeminded fans. Our passions with other like us make us healthier and happier because we feel fully expressed and included. It might Japanese gundams, the Fortnite video game, The Expanse TV show, the SAGA graphic novel or The Avantgardevegan YouTube channel. Whatever the fandom, it draws together like-minded people with shared interests. Why are we drawn to fan groups? Today, society overflows with examples of conflict, disconnection, dysfunction and disharmony. Being part of a fan group gives people a sense of belonging and acceptance. Everyone in the group has varying degrees of support and admiration for a fandom.
Fandom makes people more tolerant and open to other cultures
In the article "Why Everyone Should Read Harry Potter – Scientific American", the author writes about how JK Rowling's fantasy book series "Harry Potter", has the potential to make us nice people.
A study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology shows that reading the Harry Potter books has the effect of improving negative attitudes and prejudices between differing groups of people through inter-group contact. Another study conducted by the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia show that, "Among those who identified with the Harry Potter character, attitudes toward immigrants were found to be significantly improved in children who’d read passages dealing with prejudice. The attitudes of those who’d read neutral passages hadn’t changed."
Being a part of something improves mental health
According to the article "Psychologists Say That Belonging To A Fandom Is Amazing For Your Mental Health ", Research shows that there is a correlation between sense of belonging and depression. Belonging to a group gives you a kind of feeling that you are cared by others. Meeting people with similar interests helps an individual to get more connected to this world, raises his/her willingness to combat challenges faced in life. Dr. Laurel Steinberg, a psychotherapist and professor of psychology at Columbia University, said that:
“Connecting with people over shared passions and interests is good for mental and emotional health because it helps to create a fraternity-like or family-like sense of security. It's also generally fun to scheme and get excited about something with others, and gives them a subject to talk about that they know will always be well received.”
The experience of belonging to a fan community
What does being a member of a fan community like? r/Undertale has shared his story on Reddit. The was suffering from mental issues and he was not able to function day to day. He didn't know how to deal with it and even had thoughts of suicide. Then, something changed his life. He is a huge fan of UNDERTALE (a video game), he joined the UT fandom and made friends who also enjoyed playing the game. In that fandom, he met a girl and they became close friends. He referred the UT fandom as
"The place I was most comfortable in, I spilled my thoughts and problems on a message board (I think it was amino) and the support I got was extremely heartwarming. It seemed like people cared for the first time. The community was so kind, and welcoming. I will never forget it. It was the day my life changed for the better, I started to really clean up after myself."
The community continues to impact his life in a big way. If you ask other people in the community, they very likely feel the same way.