Posts


  • the evolution of online BFFs.

    Decided to join this month’s Indieweb Carnival and talk about Digital Relationships. Thanks to Manu for hosting!


    I can’t tell you how many people I have met that have turned up their noses at digital relationships, saying they aren’t nearly as connected or deep as in-person relationships.

    To that, I call bullshit.

    Almost all of the people I know and call close friends in my life I have met online, or I have developed a deeper connection because of being online. I would have never considered how much the internet and using it for connection would have affected my life the first time I sat in front of a computer.

    I grew up in the 1980s. The first computer I ever got on was an Apple IIe back in my Gifted classes in like 4th-5th grade, I think? But the first time I really connected with a person at the other end of the keyboard was when I was in college (well, the first go-round anyway) back in like 1994 or so. In my first Journalism class at SLU, the professor insisted that we use the school’s Journalism Usenet newsgroup to pull up his weekly quizzes, and we would have to copy the questions from there, post them into an email, and send him the answers.

    Well, what started as me getting on Usenet for class turned into me joining a few other newsgroups, namely the rec.music.tori-amos one. Through that group I met a few people online and started emailing them. One guy, Pierre, was in school in Toronto, Canada, and we hit it off. We even wrote each other handwritten letters when I was on summer break and couldn’t get to a computer. Of course, once I left college, I left the newsgroup, and never heard from him again. I often wonder what happened to him. I’ve tried doing a little Google search now and again, but I don’t want to risk contacting the wrong person. “Hey, by any chance, were you into Tori Amos back in like 1994-1996 or so?” Yeahhhhhhh no.

    After that, there were so many connections. Chat rooms, ICQ, AIM, forums, LiveJournal, my old personal blogs, comments, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr…

    Some of my most memorable connections were with people in the assorted things I’m into.

    My husband – who I did meet in person first – we became good friends through AIM chats and forum posts in our old Vampire LARP forum. A few months later, we started dating. We still message each other on Discord daily.

    On Facebook, I connected with a group of awesome people through an old group devoted to the vintage-inspired brand Trashy Diva. One of them is my best friend now, and we see each other at least once a week (we got together for dinner last Saturday). Others that live all over the country, I’ve gone to visit. From DC to Seattle…Dress Cult is Best Cult. Now we may not all be as utterly devoted to TD as we used to be, but we still stay in touch, and in fact, one of them is coming to visit me in March and we’re gonna spend the week hanging out, getting fancy every so often, and even getting tattoos together.

    The Loki fandom on Tumblr landed me two good friends that I still talk to 10 years later. I lost touch with them for a bit, but we always reconnect in little ways.

    Most recently, I’ve been connecting with people over Discord, mostly in the K-Pop fandom, and I’ve gotten really close with a few of them. I’ve visited a few, met up with some of them during concert trips, and even had one come stay with me in October when I ran my ATEEZ cupsleeve. I got to show her around New Orleans and get her some good food, which is always fun.

    Some of my good friends I still haven’t met! We only communicate online in assorted ways. We text, we send each other memes and voice messages and emails. I count them as some of my very best friends and they have been there for me in some of my darkest moments.

    I see these relationships, these friendships, no less than any other in-person friendship I’ve ever had. I even commented to my hairstylist last week that it is an utter pain in the ASS to make friends as you get older. It’s harder to find someone that you have a connection with randomly, in real life. Online, you can discover people that are in the same circles as you, and you already HAVE that thing in common, making striking up a conversation much easier and smoother. I’m too much of an extrovert to totally write off meeting people in person, but I have to admit that making those initial connections digitally is much easier.

    Don’t write off digital relationships. They’re just as critical for connection and meaningful friendships as an in-person relationship.


  • one year.

    One year ago, I was in the lowest space mentally that I’d ever been. I was desperate and scared and hated myself so very much. I wanted to…not be. There were other things happening in my life that was exacerbating the problem, but I felt entirely, totally alone. I was surrounded by people – my best friend, my husband, people I talked to online, coworkers. I was even seeing my therapist regularly.

    But I felt like they’d all be better off without me around.

    One year.

    If you ask me how I came out of it, I can’t tell you. It wasn’t easy. I got a psychiatrist. I started telling my husband and my best friends about how I felt. I added a second therapist that I started seeing weekly for a while. I focused on work. I focused on my mental health. I made slow and steady and regular changes. I got medicated – well, even more medicated.

    I clawed and scraped and scratched and fought through whatever pit I was in. If people weren’t willing to help me up, then I left them behind.

    One year.

    I told my therapist today, “It’s amazing what one can happen in one year.” When I left her office, the sun was shining, a little breeze in the air, the traffic on the highway was backed up. And I took a picture.  There’s lines in my face, my lipstick is kind of worn off, my eyeshadow is smudged.

    One year, and I’m still working on being better and getting better.

    One year, and I’m still here.

    And I’m actually glad to be here.

    Picture of Karen. She has a purple bob hairstyle, is wearing a green patterned dress and a navy cardigan, and is smiling at the camera.

  • i’ll read it.

    One of the things I missed the most about the personal internet of the early 00s was the fact that you could lose yourself in finding some REALLY good blogs just through poking around other pages’ links. Forget diving down a wiki hole, I loved falling down a blog hole. So many people, all over the world, sharing little snippets of their lives.

    While poking about today and looking for new blogs, I came across this post from Manu:

    “I don’t know what to write about” and “what if no one will read it?”. These are the two most common reasons why people don’t want to start a personal blog. I already addressed the first one, so let me tackle the second one in the easiest way possible: I’ll read it. If you decide to start a blog in either English or Italian, I’ll read it. I don’t care about the topic. Start a blog, write something, send it to me, and I’ll read it. And you’ll have your first reader. If you add an RSS feed to your blog, I’ll add you to my reading list, and I’ll keep reading what you post. As soon as a bunch of you have blogs, I’ll compile a list and make it available on this site. Hopefully, more people will read what you write. But I promise you that if you start writing, you’ll have a reader.

    One of the concerns that I feel most bloggers have is that their words that they put out will just be lost in the ether. You put yourself out there day after day after day, week after week after week, and you find…silence. Nothing. It’s intimidating as hell. It makes a lot of people give up personal blogging and online journaling.

    So, I’d like to offer myself up as one of your first readers. If you have a blog, drop me a line and let me know. I’ll read it. I only have two requests:

    1. Your blog must be in English (I wish I could read other languages, maybe soon!)
    2. If your blog has an RSS feed, let me know so I can add you to my reading list!

    Let’s connect and maybe have a good conversation or two. 🙂


  • new digs.

    Hello and welcome to my sparkly new blog! Well, new-ish. If I transferred all of my posts from my previous three blogs, does that count? Ha.

    God, I just felt like I was back in 2002 or so when I typed that. I just got a full on recollection of when I started my LiveJournal. Daaaaaamn. Anyway.

    So, yes. Hi. If you’re familiar with my old sites, you may notice that this is a lot simpler. 2024 is going to be the year of a significant change for me, I am paring down, social media-wise. I’ve already started moving to Mastodon as my preferred social network, and I’ll be posting more here instead of all over socials. I’m not sure if I want to drop Meta stuff yet – even though I dislike Facebook with a burning passion, I still have a LOT of friends and family there and on Instagram. So, for now, those can stay. But Twitter/X/TwiX? Nah. It can go. I’ve made my peace with losing people there. The people I really want to stay in touch with, I either communicate with them on a personal level via Discord and text messaging, or on the networks I choose to be on. As much as I want to follow all the K-Pop news, I don’t need to. Plus, since I’m in school again, I simply don’t have the time that I used to, and I’d rather cultivate connections that are meaningful rather than just numbers and follower counts.

    So, welcome. Hello to online friends new and old alike. It’s gonna be a good year. 🙂


  • Listen to this – Key, “Good & Great”

    Key’s new album, Good & Great, dropped last night, and I’d like to chat a bit about the title track of the same name.

    A little background for those not familiar with Key – he’s from the group SHINee, which debuted on May 25, 2008. He is still with SHINee today, but also has a prolific solo career, starting with his first album Face in 2018. Key is considered a major style icon, and is widely looked up to by many K-Pop idols. I could go into more, but I strongly recommend others take a look at his solo work, he’s an excellent artist. (Key is the main reason I got into SHINee.)

    He announced the release of his latest album, Good & Great, on August 20th, through assorted social media posts. It kind of threw some of his fans for a loop, considering that the concept seemed to be…office worker?

    This was unexpected, considering the concept and themes for his last three releases – Bad Love, Gasoline, and Killer – were very retro inspired and a bit campy. Bad Love was sci-fi, Gasoline was horror, and Killer was video games (think classic NES/SNES stuff).

    So when people saw this theme of…working in an office?…it was a smidge unexpected. Key does have a habit of reinventing and spinning things on their head, though, so we all waited to see what came out of it. And sure enough, he delivered. A few teaser trailers were released of Key working for some odd gray stuffed monsters, and teaser pictures of him seeming to cause chaos in an office while releasing BOK-SILLee, the fuzzy pink character that he’s made popular through the fandom.

    Key’s always gonna be JUST a bit weird. I love that so much.

    So…back to Good & Great. The album dropped last night, along with the MV. And we’ve been seeing a few clips online of Key doing dance challenges to the chorus of the song, which seems chirpy and peppy and cute. But take a look at that middle part of the chorus. Full translated lyrics below:

    I’m good I’m great
    I work get paid
    Thank god all day
    I love it, I’m epic

    All day, a dozen times and more
    Repeat the magic words
    OK, doing good
    I’m pulling through

    I’m good I’m great
    Because I’m grateful
    I’m good I’m great
    Because I’m grateful

    Wake up in the morning, mission-ready
    When I see myself sleepy in the mirror
    Man, coffee’s the only Reason I function
    Hurry, hit the road and get bussin’

    The world is an irregular puzzle
    One wrong step, you’re lost in this jungle
    Can I be saved by the bell today?
    It’s a whole new vibe, again I shout out

    Days when you wanna let go of it all
    There’re more than a few, oh, do I know
    I wanted this so bad
    Chose this path, but don’t mean it’s easy

    I’m good I’m great
    I work get paid
    Thank god all day
    I love it, I’m epic

    All day, a dozen times and more
    Repeat the magic words
    OK, doing good
    I’m pulling through

    I’m good I’m great
    Because I’m grateful
    I’m good I’m great
    Because I’m grateful

    Stop
    Stop worrying ahead Feeling jump
    Drift away on a parachute out that window
    Dreaming of an escape from reality
    Or maybe three hours go AWOL
    If I’m feeling my edge has dulled
    Means I’ve been grinding in this world
    That’s Right, grateful for all this
    But still sometimes just wanna vanish

    On days when I’m having a hard time
    Again, believe that I’m chosen

    I’m good I’m great
    I work get paid
    Thank god all day
    I love it, I’m epic

    All day, a dozen times and more
    Repeat the magic words
    OK, doing good
    I’m pulling through

    I’m good I’m great
    Because I’m grateful
    I’m good I’m great
    Because I’m grateful

    Grab whatever’s in reach
    And fire it into the sky
    I’m great because I’m grateful
    You know that I’m

    I’m good I’m great
    I work get paid
    Thank god all day
    I love it, I’m epic

    All day, a dozen times and more
    Repeat the magic words
    OK, doing good
    I am confident in myself

    I’m good I’m great
    Because I’m grateful
    I’m good I’m great
    Because I’m grateful

    Sure, the beat and lyrics are good and upbeat and fun, and I won’t lie, I’m gonna bop to this for a while. But to me, it talks more about the face that we have to put on when you’re working. You know, that mask that you show your boss and coworkers, the one that you practically live about 40 hours a week. Those platitudes of “get up, get coffee, get going” and “your daily grind”. Put on that face to everyone else, the one that says “this is who I am, this is what I do”. Those little Instagram posts of “don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee” and all that.

    Deep down, though – we’re TIRED. We’re exhausted. Hustling 24/7 takes it out of us. But we don’t know what else to do, we have to make that paycheck to live, so we tell our coworkers and bosses and post on our socials that we’re good, slap a smile on our faces and just repeat it over and over and over. Because if you just keep saying it, you’ll eventually get there and believe it, right?

    Meanwhile we daydream while in our cubicles, zoning out, thinking about what it would be like to just escape from reality and not have to worry. Wondering that if we could leave the office, disappear for an afternoon. Squinting under florescent lighting, thinking about how we’ve been ground down and softened from what we used to be, the passions that we used to have. And sure, we may be making great money, and we may even like what we do – but still, just wanting an escape from the same old same old of every day working.

    It’s no longer an option though. We smile, we put on our mask, and when your manager asks you at the coffeepot how you’re doing, you say:

    “I’m good, I’m great.”

    The odd thing is, you’d think that in a song like this, there would be some sort of resolution, a reminder that our work is not all of who we are. But there’s not. You show up at that office, in that lunchroom, in that meeting room, and you just say the same refrain:

    “I’m good, I’m great. I’m so grateful to be here. I’m doing good.”

    As upbeat as the song is…it’s just a fact that this is who we are as adults. We’re all just pulling through, and on hard days, we remind ourselves that this is the life we chose, and this is what we have to do to get by.

    To me, this song is a little more subversive – not to mention a bit sad – than we initially think at first listen.

    Of course, the video is chaotic and weird and fun and odd, exactly what I expected from Key. His looks are spectacular, as always. Give it a watch on YouTube, and check out the full album on Spotify.


  • Listen to this – Seventeen, “F*ck My Life”

    Have you ever heard a song at an exact moment in your life and had it resonate so deeply with you that you just felt like it was written right for you at that very moment?

    That was me, listening to Seventeen’s song “F*ck My Life” today.

    I’ve spent the past week up and down emotionally, and today in particular I am very much in my feelings.  While I was handling some blog work earlier, I was listening to a Seventeen playlist, and this song came on. I’d watched this video the day it dropped, and I remember liking the odd “Truman Show”-esque vibes of it, and that the lyrics were really meaningful…but it didn’t really hit until today, when I was just in an emotional state for it to REALLY hit me right in the heart.

    This fucking world

    In this fucking world, I’m the only stupid
    I lost my way, I lost my aim
    Dumbest person alive
    Let’s just forget all of this, let’s just laugh through all of this
    Because this comfort is meaningless

    On my way back home I get choked up
    Keep feeling like crying, woah-oh-oh, oh
    I just wanna find myself before I disappear completely
    When I was young and watched cartoons
    I wondered why I couldn’t be
    The main character like I would see
    My heart’s all too blackened
    Isn’t there anyone who could trade their heart with mine just for a day?

    In this fucking world, I’m the only stupid
    I lost my way, I lost my aim
    Dumbest person alivе
    From now on I’ll fight for my life
    For my own good, fight for my life
    We’rе so used to feeling numb in this life
    Now I just wanna find myself

    I’m getting so tired dreaming by myself
    I’m so sick of it all now, just wanna give up
    Don’t wanna be an embarrassment tomorrow for the me I knew yesterday
    Because this commitment is meaningless

    I look so dumb, it’s almost ridiculous
    Keep feeling like crying, woah-oh-oh, oh
    I’m getting so numb to this life that it feels like I’m shrinking away
    I got a secret I can’t tell and it’s turning to tears again
    I can’t tell a soul, I’m too ashamed for that
    Isn’t there anyone who could trade their heart with mine just for a day?

    In this fucking world, I’m the only stupid
    I lost my way, I lost my aim
    Dumbest person alive
    From now on I’ll fight for my life
    For my own good, fight for my life
    We’re so used to feeling numb in this life
    Now I just wanna find myself

    We’re so used to feeling numb in this life
    Now I just wanna find myself

    Holy SHIT. Haven’t we all felt like this at some point in our lives, where we just feel so dumb and numb, feeling like you don’t fit into the world, but also wanting to be part of it, but afraid to reach out and tell someone, ANYONE, that you’re floundering?

    As sad as the main concept behind the song is…there’s still a call to fight for your life. There’s still a reminder that we all have the capability to fight and make a stand, and not let the waves of life, stress, fears, anxiety drag you to the depths. You can still fight, you can still swim. There’s still joy and happiness to be had, and we all deserve it. It’s going to be a battle, but you can come out of the other side.

    A few dear friends have recently got me into Seventeen (thanks Eve, Jake, and Bee!), and I have been slowly listening to more of their stuff and picking out my favorites.  I’ve decided Seventeen will be the first group that I’ll start going through their discography for the blog, so keep an eye out for more posts with my thoughts on their albums.


  • now I’m bottom of the pile, a dusty photo

    I see all these people creating things – art, writing, etc. – and want to do that. I want to create something. I want to write, I want to create something beautiful and meaningful. It’s been so long since I’ve felt that way.

    But it also seems like nothing I create is “good enough”, and I hate feeling that way.

    I see so many talented people creating things all over social media, especially in the K-Pop fandom. Hell, some of the best friends I have are INCREDIBLY talented writers and artists. And I support them wholeheartedly, and adore the work they do! I am not jealous of their talent in the least. I love it and want to show the world and talk about it with them.

    Then I look at what I create, what I write and what I do, and I just feel so…lacking. And logically, I know that my friends will also support and love the things I make, and they will hype me up just as much as I do for them. I just feel so LESS THAN, and I hate it. It saps my creative spirit and makes me want to not even bother. But the desire is THERE and it is STRONG.

    How do I get it back? How do I find that space again? Do I carry my camera everywhere? Do I just grab snapshots with my phone wherever I can? Do I block time to just write, and whatever comes out goes up? Do I force it, fake it until I make it? How do I get back into that mindset and STAY there?


  • Listen to this – Stray Kids, “Chronosaurus”

    Seeing as yesterday was STAY Day, I think it’s time to celebrate with a good little playlist and one of my favorite meaningful songs, Chronosaurus.

    Chronosaurus was released March 25, 2019, as a song off of Stray Kids “MIROH” album. It wasn’t released as a full title track, but they did make a MV of the song. It’s basic, it’s simple, but it will suck you in.

    So first, let’s look at the full translated lyrics:

    I’ve run without a break but why
    It’s still dark around me why
    That time will solve everything
    Is just a fear for me?
    Time can’t solve this
    I’ll get caught if I just wait I should do something
    I don’t have other solutions
    Would time in this place be gold or beast?
    Would it be me or my dream that’s caught while playing tag?

    Day and night every day I
    Am afraid I think I’ll get caught

    I just dash out even if I get out of breath
    I run constantly
    Why does time run to me so fast?
    I just dash out even if I fall
    I keep running
    I can just run so time can’t even see me

    Woah, woah, woah, yeah, yeah
    Tick tock, tick tock, gettin’ closer
    Woah, woah, woah, yeah, yeah
    Tick tock, tick tock, run fast

    Watch out, watch out I should open my eyes
    Countdown, countdown, now what?
    I feel like I’m stuck in a sandglass
    Watch out, watch out I should open my eyes
    Countdown, countdown, now what?
    It’s just over if I stop

    I just dash out even if I get out of breath
    I run constantly
    Why does time run to me so fast?
    I just dash out even if I fall
    I keep running
    I can just run so time can’t even see me

    Ooh like a tunnel with no light
    Yeah ooh, there’s no end, I’m scared
    Ooh like a tunnel with no light
    Yeah ooh (Day and night)
    There’s no end, I’m scared
    Am afraid I think I’ll get caught

    I just dash out even if I get out of breath
    I run constantly
    Why does time run to me so fast?
    I just dash out even if I fall
    I keep running
    I can just run so time can’t even see me

    Woah woah woah yeah yeah
    Tick tock, tick tock, gettin’ closer
    Woah woah woah yeah yeah
    Tick tock, tick tock, run fast
    Woah woah woah yeah yeah
    Tick tock, tick tock, gettin’ closer
    Woah woah woah yeah yeah
    Tick tock, tick tock, run fast


    Translated lyrics from Genius English Translations

    ~deep breath~ Yeahhhhhhh. This is one of my absolute favorite songs of theirs. The first time I watched the video, I was reading the translation, and I couldn’t look away. I had to immediately re-watch the video to actually WATCH it.

    So according to this interview, Changbin said that the original name of the song was “Time Beast”, but they decided to go with Chronosaurus.

    Time changes everything.

    Time marches on.

    Much like if Time was a lumbering, elephantine-sized beast, rumbling through and breaking everything in its path. And if it catches up to you – you stop. Permanently. So you are constantly running through time, unable to stop or rest or breathe. All you can do is push yourself to stay ahead of it for as long as possible.

    The fear of time is REAL, no matter what your age. Young people fear getting old, old people fear that they don’t have enough of it. I know I look back on what I’ve done and the time I’ve had, and I wonder if it was enough. I wonder what time I have left in this plane of existence to make a positive effect on people, and I worry that I won’t have enough time with my loved ones, or to do the things I want.

    This song reminds me that I’m not the only one with these fears, and that I’m not alone in my struggle of running from time. So every time I listen to it, or the MV comes up in a YouTube playlist, I watch.

    Chronosaurus is one of those songs that resonates with me so much, that hearing it live would leave me in tears.

    “Day and night every day
    I am afraid I think I’ll get caught


  • On the Topic of Community

    Fair warning – this MAY be a bit of a ramble. Just follow along with me here, if you don’t mind. 🙂

    So for a few months now, I’ve been really focused on the idea of “community”.

    As I mentioned in the Discourse: Eliminating Toxicity post, I’ve been in fandoms of assorted kinds for all of my adult life. Gaming, LARPing, sci-fi, etc – but one of the things I’ve done that I am most proud of is working for assorted local conventions.

    There is something so very satisfying to me about being one of the organizers of an event that brings people together. Seeing everyone enjoying themselves, united in some kind of common love for something, truly brings joy to my heart. I stepped away from working for conventions back in 2018 for assorted personal reasons, but I haven’t stopped attending (except for when we were all forced to due to the pandemic).

    When I got into K-Pop in early 2022, I talked with my friend Marley about wanting more local events in New Orleans to bring more people together – and luckily, more events started happening here! Lots more cupsleeves, a couple of K-Pop nights at a local bar, Junction, and a few trading events. We even have K-Pop Club Night coming here in a few weeks (which I already bought my tickets for because I NEED to shake my booty).

    Over the past couple of months, I began wondering if I could be someone to bring the community together too.

    Community is important to humans. Not just in-person, either – I believe online communities and groups are just as viable and needed. We thrive when we are surrounded by people that love the same things we do. Whether that’s a general love for K-Pop overall, or love of a specific group or artist, we love being involved in those communities and knowing others love the things we do.

    Having said that – I see the bad things that can come out of a community as well. The chance for bullying, sasaengs, stalking. And of course, this is always fed by the media. How many of us still hide our love for K-Pop from people we know in real life, or in our professional lives, because there can be SUCH a negative connotation of it? Especially if you’re an older fan, like myself. A lot of people see K-Pop fans as immature, childish, petulant, stalkers, and online bullies. I will not lie – that can be the case. Since I’ve been making the rounds on Twitter and other social platforms, I see those stereotypes online daily.

    Does that make me want to STOP being part of this community?

    Absolutely not.

    Communities can do great things together. I believe that the positive K-Pop fans could very easily drown out or discredit the negative or problematic ones, if we all came together. I truly do believe that there are more uplifting, friendly, fun, meaningful fans in this community than there are the “bad” ones. I also believe that we can change the stereotype if we just come together.

    I have seen friendships be developed across the country, and across the globe.

    I have seen people coming together in joy and love at concerts and other events.

    I have seen fans pulling together to support other fans that they have never interacted with, fans reaching out to do community service, or support charities that mean a lot to the group or the artists – or even to drive positive change for the future. I believe this is within us all.

    I asked my Twitter and Instagram friends what they associate with the K-Pop community – good OR bad – and what this community means to them. I got some good – and thought-provoking – answers. (I edited the below comments for proofreading, spelling, or punctuation issues, but did not add or change words.)

    I’ve been a fan of Kpop for 14 years already, so it’s basically my whole youth, 2009 – 2NE1’s debut and I have been hooked since. So yes, when I think of kpop, the word youth, memories and safe haven comes to mind. Youth and Memories because I grew up with it as my main music in life. So many memories were made with a single genre of music. I made friends, met idols that I didn’t think was possible, developed my passion and confidence in performing and found my true passion in design and event production too. My youth was full of dreams that came true thanks to kpop. Safe Haven because I found ultimate comfort in artists I came to love. Yes, they are not perfect since they are still human beings, but their words and their music was enough to pick me up when I am sad, make me smile, and make me feel like someone can actually listen and understand me. But of course, Kpop isn’t perfect, the fandom culture of it is insane that I just can’t comprehend why idols are just not as free as they want to be, like they’re humans, relationships shouldn’t be a scandal, sasaengs also should not exist and the blatant disrespect these idols got like we don’t own them, we’re fans who choose to love them but we don’t control them at all. I really don’t like that aspect at all. – Neko

    Fun
    Friends
    Mutual screaming
    In my experience, acceptance

    Mob mentality
    Cancel culture
    Unsafe and unrealistic expectations
    – Sammie

    It means a lot, I’ve met some great people here and some lovely friends who will be friends forever 😘 there’s always downs with highs but we come together when it matters. The fact people from all races/backgrounds come together to share a love of music I think is amazing. – Frankie

    It’s family to me. I’ve made so many friends from liking the groups that I do, even met several in real life. Concerts & cupsleeves are exciting because we all get to be together. There’s always gonna be negativity somewhere, but I don’t engage with it & block when needed.
    – Dazzy

    Fun, Community Hive Mind, messy – Era

    I think of the friends I’ve made through k-pop, I think of the sheer beauty and artistry of it. And I also think about the fanwars which are sometimes kinda funny when they don’t take themselves too seriously.
    – SugarCookieNay

    I think of community as a place where I can find commonality, camaraderie, and unity. I’d like to think of it as a safe space, but that’s not often the case in the kpop community. While I acknowledge the fantastic friendships I’ve forged in this community, I also can’t ignore the struggles of being a POC kpop fan. – Teddy

    I want to be known as someone in this community that is uplifting, positive, supportive, and understanding. I want to be known as someone who boosts others up and shows them to be the best person they can be, whether that’s in the fandom or in their everyday life. So I am going to work on my end to bring this community together – both online and in real life. I want to organize and work with others to host events that bring people joy and happiness, even if it’s for a few hours. I want to inspire others to participate and have fun, and provide a safe space for ALL people, no matter what.

    I can’t do it alone, though. I need others to come with me on this journey of creating a better community for us all, everywhere.

    As ATEEZ says in “Intro: Long Journey”:

    “Will you join us?”


  • Discourse: Eliminating Toxicity

    Since I started becoming more involved with the K-Pop fandom in the past year – I’m noticing a major difference in how fans interact with the groups and each other, and I feel the need to talk about it.

    So, a little background on me, first off. I’m an older fan. To be more clear, I’m in my mid to late 40s. I’ve been involved in many fandoms and passions over the span of my life, from New Kids on the Block in the 80s, to LARPing in the 90s, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, LiveJournal, the Hiddleston/Cumberbatch days of Tumblr, and most recently K-Pop today. I’ve been in assorted local fan groups, ran a couple of them, and volunteered for many fan-run sci-fi and comic cons since I was in my 20s. This is not to brag about my experience, nor to say I am “better” than anyone else. This is simply to make those reading this understand that I have been involved in fan communities for a long time through my life. In other words, the K-Pop fandom is not my first rodeo, LOL.

    The singular thing I love about every fandom I have been involved in over the span of my life has been COMMUNITY. Finding the others around you who love the same things you do, and connecting through that common passion. Whether it’s locally by seeing someone wearing a t-shirt of your favorite band, meeting others at a panel at a convention, or finding message boards or social media groups online – those connections are the biggest thing I love about fandoms. Connection and community. I started volunteering and working for conventions because being a part of all those people coming together, embracing the things they love together, brings me so much joy. Humans have always been stronger together, fandoms even more so.

    Now, that’s not to say that those gatherings are perfect. We all know there are toxic, awful people involved in every type of group, and ESPECIALLY fan communities. This is nothing new. A lot of people complain about how being online has brought out the worst in people…and to a small degree, that’s true. We cannot place that ALL on being online, though. There have always been nasty and sometimes evil people in fannish communities. If you look at the history of fan-run conventions, there are some really ugly situations and people there. Whether that’s a worldwide convention, or a small local event…there’s always someone who has ulterior motives. Those ulterior motives can range from being hungry for power and validation, theft, or much worse. Some of the time, the group polices its own, and the perpetrator is removed from the group and punished. (Yes, I am painfully aware this is not always the case.)

    Online communities changed this dynamic, of course. A lot of time it’s for the better – even more fans coming together, new fans coming into the fold and supporting their faves, the collective excitement and joy when something new comes out, talking, meeting, and making friends all over the world. I’ve made some lifetime friends online, and have visited so many places to see them. An online fandom community is just as valid as a personal meetup in your town, and COVID cemented that in place even more. However, with more people in a group, the chances of having more of the problematic people – the predators, the narcissists, the drama bombs – increases. It’s also easier to hide that behavior through a screen. Add in the penchant for people to be more bold and flat-out rude online…and here we stand today.

    Up until now, I’ve been content with just supporting my favorite K-Pop groups however I could – buying albums, listening to music on Spotify, squeeing about them online with friends. I decided to go a little farther into the fandom with the ATEEZ comeback, and dip my toes into the world of streaming through Korean music sites and online voting to help the group win music shows and chart higher. There are many groups and people who mobilize all around the world to do this when a group releases a comeback album. You may have seen multiple tweets or posts about getting a group to chart on Bugs, Genie, or Melon; or to push voting to get a group to win on one of the assorted music shows in South Korea, such as Inkigayo, The Show, or Music Bank. Streaming on Korean music services can also help affect wins on the shows, and most definitely affect charting, not only in Korea but worldwide. YouTube and Spotify streams in the US count towards Billboard charts, along with album sales.

    I signed up to be part of a group to stream on Bugs, a popular South Korean music site. I figured it would be fun to be part of this – and it was! The night the comeback dropped, I stayed up until midnight and got to see the video when it came out, and set up my Bugs streaming playlist and other things. So many people all over the world were online, excited and happy to see the video for Bouncy and start working together to make this comeback the best one for ATEEZ yet! It was great! The group I was with mostly communicated via group chat, and there was a good variance of newbies to streaming like me, along with others who’ve done this more than a few times.

    However, not even 48 hours after streaming started, I started seeing things popping up on Twitter that made me nervous. Some fans were spamming others, yelling at them about how they weren’t doing enough, fussing that people needed to buy more physical copies of the album, berating people who weren’t speaking out publicly about voting and running the apps. I saw more than a few tweets on my For You page (which, honestly, is the WORST) of some fans just laying into others with both barrels of hatred and anger, accusing them of not being a “real fan”, and spamming some of the larger accounts with comment after comment of how they weren’t doing the best for the group and if they weren’t going to post about voting and streaming, to just shut down or stay quiet.

    It even affected me. I started wondering if I was doing enough, wondering if I needed to do more, buy more, pay more. Of course, I turned to the group I was in, asking them about what they thought, and they all agreed that behavior was totally uncalled for and not what the majority of fans, streamers, and voters believed. The fact that other new streamers were feeling the same way made me feel a little better, so I just kept doing what I was doing, determined to enjoy the new music and the content that was coming out.

    As time went on, though, those voices became louder and more prominent. I saw tweets of friends who felt like they weren’t doing enough, that the joy was gone, that this was a slog and they just didn’t even want to log on to Twitter anymore because of the nasty tweets that people were posting. I heard that some older fans, those who have been with ATEEZ since their pre-debut days, were being run off of socials because they were being harassed by these toxic individuals. I even had a few people who I followed, who I thought were pretty cool and chill, jump on to the spamming bandwagon.

    And then when the same people started flinging accusations that ALL Ktinys – Korean ATINYs – weren’t doing anything to benefit the group, that they were all just selfish and only in it for the freebies so they could turn around and sell them to international fans? Yeah, I don’t play with that. I’m sure that there are some “fans” who are like that, of course – yet another kind of toxic fan – but ALL Korean fans? I don’t believe that for a second. And to say that all non-Korean ATINY never did those sorts of things? Patently untrue.

    It’s over two weeks now since the new album dropped, and ATEEZ has wrapped up their primary comeback activities, but the majority of fun and excitement I felt at the beginning of the release is no longer there. Instead, I find myself actively avoiding the ATINY side of Twitter, simply because I don’t feel like seeing infighting, drama, accusations, or people going inactive because they’ve been run off by what is essentially a HANDFUL of loud, obnoxious, and toxic fans.

    And to be blunt – I’m fucking sick of it.

    As I stated above, this is not my first fandom rodeo. I was a very heavy LiveJournal user, I moved to Tumblr when I really sank my teeth into the Loki/Hiddleston fandom, and I’ve been on Twitter since 2007 as an active user. So when I say I am TIRED of what is a small group of obnoxious fans ruining these communities that people have built up for ages, simply by being LOUD…I’m dead-ass serious. Good people, friendly people, people who want to bring others together – they are being run off in droves by what is essentially toddlers having temper tantrums and bullying others.

    And the kicker is – there’s ALWAYS more of us than there are of them. Good fans, caring fans, fans who are in it for the long haul and support not only our groups and favorites BUT each other? We could become more organized. We could shut them down. We could shut them out. We could point the fingers, name and shame, show the world that we are BETTER than these individuals. We could show the world that we are together in solidarity to stop behavior like this. It’s just a matter of organizing and sticking up for each other when the awful ones start shouting.

    We’ve all heard it from others, about how “K-Pop fans are crazy”. We’ve heard people talk about us, saying how we’re a toxic group, how all we do is fight and bully and shame others who aren’t into the groups we’re into. We’ve heard how we’re delusional, how we all have major issues with parasocial relationships, how K-Pop is our entire personalities and we’re all unhealthy nerds who just hole up in our rooms.

    First off…how dare I call myself out like this. (OK, sorry, I had to make that joke.)

    Sure, a lot of us may be those things. But a LOT of us – more than people know – are adults, with full time jobs, relationships, lives. A lot of us are fighting personal battles day in and day out and the little joys that we get from this music gets us through our days. A lot of us are creative powerhouses, creating AMAZING art, comics, stories, full-on novels. A lot of us are community organizers, bringing people together in love of one common thing, supporting people all over the world that we’ve never met in real life, helping and loving one another, doing good things, all united because we like that one thing, one group, one character.

    I see the positive side of fandom. That community, that strength, that LOVE – it’s all there, in droves.

    I say we don’t let the negatives define us. Let’s work on getting rid of those negative stereotypes defined by a small group of people who want nothing more than attention. Let’s focus on building those communities and growing for good together. Let’s focus on lifting one another up, instead of breaking people down. And most important – let’s pull together to DRIVE THESE TOXIC FANS OUT.