Eight or nine years ago I was really into a show called The Wire. My girlfriend at the time discovered the series through her sister, and we got the DVDs from Netflix, often sending them back to Netflix the next day for more episodes.
While my girlfriend and I would simply watch and discuss the episodes between ourselves, her sister would go on specific forums on social media to talk about the episode. It was a big outlet for her–she liked discussing each episode in detail with others.
Flash forward to a few years ago when a good friend of mine, Bryce, started e-mailing me and a few others who love the show Survivor. After each episode, someone would start a new e-mail chain with their thoughts, and others would join in if they had something to say about that episode.
We’ve continued that tradition through the present day, and I’m a huge fan of the system. I really love the show Survivor, but I watch it alone, so it’s fun to be able to talk to other people afterwards who are just as excited about it.
Last week after our post-episode discussion, I reflected on why the group-e-mail format works so well for the discussions. I’m sure there are forums and Facebook groups about Survivor–why don’t I just jump in the conversations there?
What I’ve realized is that it’s pretty rare for me to want to join in a forum or discussion with a lot of people because it provides a string of distractions every time someone posts a new comment. It could go on for hours or days. It comes back to one of the reasons I don’t like having conversations via text–I can’t focus when I get texts every 1-2 minutes. Our brains aren’t made that way.
The Survivor group e-mails are the exact opposite of forum discussions. It’s a small group, we each typically only write one e-mail, and I enjoy the people I’m talking to.
I would probably continue to watch Survivor even if the group disbanded, but I can say that it’s a huge motivator for me to watch the show live if possible or the next day. That’s extremely rare for me.
So I’m wondering if sometimes having small, focused, time-sensitive groups with whom to discuss television, books, movies, games, etc are more effective than vast social media forums. Like, imagine this:
You go to a movie, and you really want to share your thoughts on it and hear other people’s thoughts afterward. So you go to a website set up to create a group like the one my Survivor friends have. All you do is click on the movie, see if there are any groups with openings (they’re limited to 5 people), and they don’t activate until they have the full 5 people. You can also start a new group. Then one person in the group is chosen at random by the site to share their thoughts first, which they may do in a long-form message, but they’re limited to 1000 characters. That message goes out like a group e-mail to everyone, and each other person gets a chance to reply as well.
You can thumb up or thumb down the people who are in the group, and if two people thumb up one another, they’re assigned to future groups. So over time you might form a complete group of people–complete strangers–whose opinions you appreciate. It might even encourage you all to go see more movies (this is how the site could monetize the service)–if one person in the group is going to see a new movie, they would have a way to inform the group, making you more likely to see that movie too.
You probably wouldn’t be restricted to one group, because the people who share your taste in movies might be different than those who share your taste in books or television.
I’m kind of rambling now, but I’m just intrigued by the power of small discussion groups compared to big social media forums. I even wonder if there’s some way I can use this to connect people and create conversations for customers of my board game company.
What do you think? How do you like to interact with people online about your favorite things–books, movies, television, etc?