Reflections On The K-Pop Community
Earlier today, I posted a tweet that showed the climax of my relationship with the K-Pop community. This article will mostly focus on Twitter where I spend nearly all my time around other K-Pop fans, but consider this a primer for forums and other places K-Pop fans congregate online.
I have been a part of the K-Pop community for over three and a half years now. I have seen a lot. I was there when “Gangnam Style” became a worldwide sensation. I was there to see multiple Girls’ Generation music videos reach 100 million views on YouTube. I was there for the many tragedies that plagued both the K-Pop and general Korean worlds in 2014. I have seen the debut of so many new groups and my K-Pop loves have grown and changed. I originally came into it thinking the girls were attractive. While I still obviously think that, the music has changed my life (for better or worse, I think it is still too early to tell). I have become familiar with a culture I never thought I would know and it has expanded both my personal horizons as well as my future desires. I have also missed a lot. I was not there for the first reincarnation of TVXQ. I did not see BoA’s or the Wonder Girls’ American tours. Hell, I was not even there for Girls’ Generation’s. But thanks to the internet, I do not feel like I missed too much because those memories are always there for us. But I digress.
Over the past few months, things have really changed for me in the K-Pop community. A few months ago, some friends and myself were in a KakaoTalk group (KakaoTalk is basically like the Korean version of WhatsApp). Things were amazing. I would not trade it for the world. But over time, disagreements arose and we ultimately broke apart. Most of those old friends have rekindled the relationship, but I am no longer there. What happened you my ask? My answer: I do not know.
Nowadays, I only talk about K-Pop on Twitter. A lot of the time, it is fine and I have a myriad of conversations I can direct you to personally. But I still feel a hole in my heart. These conversations feel so forced on my end. I feel like if I do not initiate, I will be surrounded by K-Pop with no one to share it with, mainly because no one wants to share with me. Now I will admit I do not have a perfect personality and I may be off-putting at times, but remember who I am. I do not hide on the internet like many people do. I put myself out in the open so if I do make a mistake, the whole world can see it and know who made it. As for my friends? Most of them sadly ignore me these days. They may not realize it, but that is how I feel. Actions always speak louder than words and apologies sadly will not cut it this time.
Recently, a well-known British comedian Stephen Fry left Twitter (again) for simply being himself with no ill-will. Sadly, I am now considering the same thing. The internet (and Twitter as well) has become a breeding ground for some horrible scum. The K-Pop community has also fallen ill to this. Immaturity is basically everywhere (I know some of you will disagree; this is a purposefully hyperbolic statement). Fan-wars are a perfect instance of this where people call out each other and trash on their favorite groups. Mob mentality has its way of making you a jerk. I can say that with sincerity. I have been there, and I am not proud of it. Immaturity is mainly due to the young age demographic of K-Pop. This sadly breeds ageism. While I have not been on the receiving end of it, I have heard from other people that older K-Pop fans are made fun of by younger K-Pop fans. Why does this happen? We all love the same music. Why can we not all just get along? Thankfully, my own personal problems do not seem to be about ageism, but there is one more topic I want to discuss that might answer my questions.
Go look at my Twitter if you are not familiar with it. What does the page have on it? If it is a normal day, you may see some political and technological news along with K-Pop on there. You can even deduce from my Twitter bio that I talk about and am interested in more than just K-Pop. I believe this is the ultimate problem I face. K-Pop fans (for the most part I have noticed) want to be sealed in a walled garden. They only want to talk about K-Pop, they only care about K-Pop, and they will display negative actions toward those who do not. I have a friend who I used to be very close with. She even called me uncle at times. We would spend our days bonding over our favorite Twice member Sana. But one day, she was gone. Without a word, I lost her. We have since unfollowed each other on Twitter and no longer speak. So what happened? I think the walled garden theory is to blame here. If I cannot devote my life to K-Pop, why should K-Pop fans continue to care about me, my interests, or what I say? This is the final thought I have to mention, but it is the most important. This walled garden approach is the reason I am considering leaving the entire community behind for good. Not the music, just the community. If I cannot openly have multiple interests and be welcomed, why should I bother trying to be a member at all?
Much of this post was broad and over-reaching, attempting to highlight the platitudes. My intention is not to call out individuals for what I consider nefarious behavior. My intention is to highlight that as a 24 year old man, I no longer feel like the K-Pop community wants me around, and if it will continue to divulge into what it has sadly become, I do not want any part in it either.