Fan Etiquette 101: Online Interactions
For a lot of international K-Pop fans, online is the easiest place to meet other K-Pop fans. However, while this is the easiest place, it isn't always the best place. The current state of the online fandom leaves a lot to be desired. While there are a lot of factors in play that create this less-than-desirable state, there are things we as K-Pop fans can do to make online fandom a happier place.
Think Before You Share
This is a huge problem outside the K-Pop world as well—pictures can be photoshopped, conversations can be fabricated, videos can be altered. If something seems too good to be true, it probably isn't real. When sharing a story or an image, make sure to check the source of the news and whether it comes from a reliable source. With the popularity of K-Pop, there are more and more “news” sites emerging, and it is becoming harder and harder to separate fact from fanaticism. When in doubt, it's always better to not share than to share. Not sharing will keep you out of the drama that comes from things blowing up out of proportion.
Interacting Within a Fanbase
K-Pop fans cover the globe. They span ages and cultures, creating a difficult landscape to navigate when it comes to communication. With any group that varies in ages and personalities, there will always be conflict brought on by miscommunication and clash. Here are a few key things to help make your online experience more pleasant.
Avoid Participating in the Witch-hunts
This is especially common on Twitter. Whether it's towards one user or a member of an idol group, people will get wound up over anything. That isn't saying that there are not cases where you should be wound up over an issue. Social media has a way of multiplying issues to vast proportions. The best way to avoid getting into an argument and to preserve your sanity is just to avoid these activities altogether.
Use the Same Manners You Would Use with Strangers
At the end of the day, you do not really know the people you are interacting with online. You should remember to use the same manners you would use when you meet people in public. The internet is full of strangers—regardless of liking the same thing, exercise the same amount of caution online as you would use offline.
Spread Love Whenever Possible
With massive fanbases, there is always going to be conflict. However, anytime there is one conflict, there will be three times more love thrown around as well. There are so many things you can do to show love: like and retweet, leave emojis, hype selca days, and even support fanart and projects. We are all part of the same fan family, and supporting each other while supporting our favorite groups should be the main goal.
Outside the Fanbase: Non-Fans, The Media, and Other Fanbases
This is the one thing a lot of fans tend to forget. As K-Pop fans, we represent our beloved artists just as much as they themselves do. We want to remember to act in a way that would represent our favorites well.
Stick to the Topic
If the video or post is about one group, try to stick to that group—hype them up, admire the talent. Don’t drag another group into the conversation. It could cause a negative response to you, to other fans, and even to your favorite group. When in doubt, it's better just to leave an emoji or like than post a comment.
Think Before You Press Send
Even offline, many people forget about thinking before they speak. Scrolling through Twitter, you might catch the phrase “maybe if they watched/stanned [this group] then [this event] wouldn’t have happened.” These types of statements can make a really bad impression. There are countless times where fans attach fancams and these phrases to events that had nothing to do with K-Pop or South Korea in general. Please avoid doing this at all. This can be taken the wrong way and can put a bad impression of K-Pop fans into non-fans’ minds. Always think how the person on the receiving end of the comment would feel. Another thing is harassing people who make a mistake; many media outlets who are being exposed to the K-Pop world often make mistakes when identifying groups or picking out things to talk about. Try to focus on educating them rather than harassing them. Educating them does not mean sending the same message repeatedly or using profanity or superlatives in the comment. If you ever second guess a comment, don’t send it.
Online and offline, when we declare our love for our favorite idol groups, we become a representative of them towards the rest of the world. We want to make sure we represent them well. Make sure to double check what you send and ask yourself “If my idol saw this, would they be proud of me?”