New York, Jan 11 (IANS) Lady Gaga is not just an entertainer; she not only helps her followers embrace differences but also lets them bind emotionally too.
According to a fascinating study, researchers at University of Missouri in the US have found that online social media gives users an outlet to forget differences and provide emotional support to others.
To understand this online celebrity-fan relationship, they chose singer Lady Gaga who enjoys more than 40 million twitter followers.
"In our study of Lady Gaga followers, we found that she uses social media not for promotion but rather as a communication tool with her fans," said Melissa Click, assistant professor of communication at University of Missouri's college of arts and science.
"She shares personal and 'insider' information through social media and develops feelings of intimacy with her followers. By revealing her embrace of her own differences and unusual behaviours, Lady Gaga allows her followers to embrace their own differences," Click noted.
Researchers interviewed several fans who identified themselves as gay, had eating disorders and considered themselves different or who were taunted relentlessly.
For them, Gaga instilled strength in them through her acceptance of their differences, which gave them a reason to live, said the study published in the journal "Popular Music and Society".
In addition, the social support network Lady Gaga fosters encourages her followers to be more charitable to each other, Click said.
"We found that participants' perceived relationships with Gaga affected how close they felt to her. They felt that she is the voice who celebrates their differences instead of mocking them, and this was a very positive thing," Click added.
Researchers used skype and google chat to communicate with Gaga followers from the US, Australia, Europe, Asia and Africa.
They asked the fans how social media impacted their interest in and relationship to Gaga. Researchers also asked interviewees about their feelings toward the singer's social activism.
"We are now working on a second research that examines Gaga's political activism and how she encourages her facebook and twitter followers to be more active in the political system," said Click.