Especially in today’s mediated digital age, imagined communities are relative to the public eye.
An imagined community represents how you might identify with a certain group of people. This might be though common interests, a shared origin of birth, supporting different political candidates or other major sports team.
A straightforward example for what an imagined community is how you support a sports team. Different division rivals will clash among one another. For example:
- You could walk into a Sports Bar with a matchup between the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers playing
- You don’t know any of the other people who are in the sports bar with you
- …but you can tell which team they like based off of what jersey they’re wearing
- …and who they cheer for.
Even though you don’t know these people, you cheer with them if they support the same team as you.
You can instantly jump into a conversation about your favorite player or their prediction for the rest of the season.
Guy 1: “I don’t know you…but we’re wearing the same jersey!”
Guy 2: “Ye….”
*Both engage in a completely detailed and drawn out conversation about their insight for the remainder of the NFL season
*Both may not even have even mentioned their actual name among one another…they don’t care, however…
An imagined community allows strangers to come together and act in camaraderie.
You could know nothing about these people but you act like best friends when you’re watching your same favorite team dominate in the playoffs.
When you go online and look up different stats and reports about your team you’ll even end up on different blogs and forums dedicated to that team. This is how you’ll open up to another set of imagined communities. Through these digital communities you’ll again meet more strangers who you’ve never even seen in person!
You’ll comment and share different links, but you’ll most likely never meet in person…
Still, you’ll easily be able to talk to one another because you share the same loyalty to the same team.
Here’s another example of an imagined community, I have a teammate that thought it’d be cool if he messaged everyone who had the same name as him on Facebook. So for example, I’ll use a random name like Brad Chadwick (idk)… my friend Brad Chadwick connected all of the other “Brad Chadwick’s” of the world and they all messaged each other wondering what was going on.
In essence, this was an imagined community because all of the Brad Chadwick’s started messaging each other “who is this/what is this?”
Brad Chadwick would respond with: this is Brad Chadwick!” Everyone would be confused, but at the same time they could relate to the common name…despite being strangers…
Eventually the Brad Chadwick’s all left the group chat and the Imagined Community fell apart…but for a brief time there was this sense of community for the Chadwick’s….
Will the future of social media and technology offer up more ideas for imagined communities?
You might follow a number of different bloggers, podcasters, or YouTubers. You become a part of this imagined community because you’re a loyal follower of this channel/user. A lot of these viewers might even remain silent and anonymous for months or years before they decide to participate in the imagined community…
Because of this concept, you shouldn’t ever feel alone in the world. There’s all kinds of unique and specialized imagined communities out there. You can follow a group, or start a following just by using the Internet. If you need help with a certain topic, just go out there on Google and ask for it. You’ll land on a blog that’ll motivate you or offer you different stories and perspectives about what you’re going through.