Relatable Content Is So Comforting
Monday, May 11 2020 7am
Time was running out.
I was freaking my brain out over my research work, waking up every hour to my snoozed alarms.
The deadline is drawing in closer.
Put in my air pods. Play this song on Spotify.
And it just put a stop to my agony.
It doesn’t tell me to have hope. Or see life in a better light.
It actually dwelled on a feeling of confusion and hopelessness.
But why do I find solace with it?
In this song “Tomorrow, Today” by JJ Project (a sub-unit of GOT7), it started with
“Why must I decide about tomorrow, today?
How should I know what tomorrow will bring?
My path and my dreams are fading
If I could turn back time and see my future
I would know which way to go
I would know where my path is”
Nothing in bright yellow tone. But I could feel myself about to tear up. There’s someone who understand the inexplicable feelings that are held up inside.
Someone who is incredibly emotionally strong, famous and talented, yet still experiencing the same thing. The same agonizing feeling.
“Somebody let me know, tell me which way to go
Cuz I don’t, don’t, don’t know”
The desire for someone to give me answer. Tell me which way I should go. How it resonated so much with me!
Why Do We Like Relatable Content?
The puzzling thing is that even when the song does not offer me any solution, plus it ends with a question, I was able to find my peace to continue with my work.
Apart from them being members of GOT7 (aka embodiment of attractiveness and talent), I’m curious why do I find their song relatable content? And why are they so popular?
So I went down the rabbit hole of Google Scholar and Google Search.
Through the marketing loops to social psychology to news editorial, there were mixed opinions about the origin and the popularity of relatable people or content.
Readings I explored:
- How citizen influencers persuade their followers from Copenhagen Business School (pp. 335- 353)
- The Power of Relatability from The Atlantic
- Why Do We Like People Who Are Similar to Us? from Psychology Today
- Why Do We Obsess Over What’s ‘Relatable’? from The New York Times
- Why do we like what we like? by Yale Insights
- Familiarity Principle
- Motivated empathy: a social neuroscience perspective from Stanford University
- You’re like me and I like you: Mediators of the similarity–liking link assessed before and after a getting-acquainted social interaction in Journal of Social and Personal Relationships
Through piecing and synthesizing them together, I’m going to offer my insights on it.
My insights + research
Why I find GOT7 song so relatable
Feeling that the celebrities are empathic towards us. Dr Erika Weisz and Dr Jamil Zaki from Stanford University found evidence from brain scans that when we desire for social closeness, it can increase empathic-related behaviors.
In another word, as I desire to be close to GOT7 (aka celebrities), my brain is activated to feel that they are empathizing with me.
2. Aspirational realness
In this sense, I’m seeing GOT7 as inspirational figures I want to emulate. This implies that the members, being respected celebrities, had an influence in me. To me, their physical and emotional presence are something I relate to. This is supported by the research done by Dr. Anne Martensen, Dr. Sofia Brockenhuus-Schack and Dr. Anastasia Lauritsen Zahid from Copenhagen Business School, where they found that aspirational realness increase people’s influence on their followers.
Even though I have not met GOT7 before, the aspirational realness play a part in me relating to them. This in turns let empathy take over as I also empathize with their struggles and worries. Hence, it feels comforting to know that I’m not alone feeling despaired.
3. Consensual Validation
Consensual validation is when a group of people agrees on their perspectives of reality. This also means that when you meet someone who share your emotional experiences and feelings, you feel that your experiences are accepted and justified. Thus, when I listen to GOT7 song and their lyric laments about their desire to find an answer, it echo with my sentiments. Dr Adam Hampton, Amanda Fisher Boyd, and Susan Sprecher shared in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships that consensual validation is one of the reasons why when someone share something similar to you, you perceive them well and like them. It’s no surprise that GOT7 become popular, given how the lyrics mirror many of the fans’ and listeners’ life experience. Given how candid and open they are about their life, that also invite us to be a part of their world, increasing the experience that we share the same reality as them.
All in all, for whatever reason their content is so relatable or why I + other exquisite people adore them terribly, I hope that my reasoning helps you understand why you adore your celebrity crush. And why you find relatable songs/ memes so comforting.
In Hindsight + Moving Forward:
This post was a new experience for me to bring in scientific research into my would-have-been lyrical post about my discovery and everyday enjoyment. It’s a new spin-off I’m trying, in order to acquaint myself with more serious, professional academic writing. A carrot (GOT7) for me to get on walking. Not going to lie that I wanted to give up writing this. And even deciding to separate them into different posts because I’m taking so long to flush out my thoughts and find the substantial scholarly articles to back up my thoughts. I’m so grateful and glad to have this website, this space to let my thoughts, feelings, and obsession take form and run wild. 💕 Thank you for reading this~
Well, next time, I want to try Austin Kleon’s way of writing. In “Steal Like An Artist”, he backed his anecdotes with external sources – quotes, autobiography of famous, reputable people.
Malcom Gladwell’s style of writing is also something I enjoy a lot. It’s been awhile since I read his piece. Need to refresh his work in order to emulate his style and tone. Fake it till you make it!