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In the weeks leading up to June 16, 2023, when I attended the Pittsburgh leg of Taylor Swift's Eras Tour, the online chatter about the 33-year-old singer had become draining
The internet was ablaze with rumors about Swift dating Matty Healy, the lead singer of the English pop-rock band The 1975. Some Swifties – the term used for diehard Taylor Swift fans – berated the pop superstar for dating Healy, who'd become mired in controversy for appearing on a podcast whose hosts made racist comments about the rapper Ice Spice.
As the Pittsburgh leg of the tour approached, I wondered if I were about to dive headfirst into an angry mob of tens of thousands of Swifties.
On the day of the show, Acrisure Stadium was mobbed with 72,000 people, but the Swifties in attendance were far from angry.
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In that moment we became deeply connected by our shared love and admiration for Swift's music. Sociologist Emile Durkheim described this phenomenon as "collective effervescence," the unique surge in feeling when large groups of people come together for a shared purpose.
"It was rare, I was there, I was there," Swift belted out during "All Too Well."
I was there, too, as life events touched by Swift flashed by: sitting at my first desktop computer as a teenager in Kathmandu, Nepal, replaying "Love Story" on LimeWire; my first week in the U.S., during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, when Kanye West infamously interrupted Swift; how Swift's eighth studio album, "Folklore," brought me back to life after it seemed as if the world were on the verge of imploding in 2020.
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