Fandom has changed a lot since I was a kid. As a tween, I had no hope of getting in touch with celebrities I adored like Britney Spears and Whitney Houston. Now, I’ve not only spoken with some of my celebrity favorites on social media, but I’ve even fought with a few.
The technology of fandom is changing, too. Parasocial relationships — a largely one-sided relationship between a fan and a public figure they feel close to due to social media — are everywhere online. And the companies behind some of the biggest acts in K-pop are pioneering a new way to monetize them. They’ve developed online platforms to help K-pop fans feel as though they have direct access to their idol favorites. That access helps shape the way these fans interact with the idol as a form of friendship and how they engage with other fansK-POP’S FANDOM PLATFORMS ARE CHANGING WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN IDOL
I’m always online. Obviously. I spend a lot of time – too much time? – on Twitter, but I also do a lot of fandoming across different apps for Korean idols. Hell, at one point I actually lowkey lived on streaming app V Live because the phone I had at the time had notifications that worked so when one of “my” favorites would go online, so would I. I was awake so dang early back then. These days, I may sleep through my notifications, but I stay active on the different apps for my faves. I don’t use LYSN or bubble but I have been on Universe for Monsta X and Brave Girls (especially my bias Minyoung).
And of course, I’m on Weverse. Most of my favorites (and one former favorite… Gfriend) are on the Weverse app and I use the app to communicate with other fans and moon over idols. It’s more “personal” and private than just trying to communicate with an idol or other fans on Twitter and so, for the most part, it feels safe to engage.
I loved talking with Areum Jeong and Nicole Santero (who runs the @ResearchBTS Twitter account) because they’ve got insight for days! I also am grateful to Maxim and Leigh, two fans who graciously provided their thoughts about the apps they use to engage with their faves. So many wonderful fans provided their insight and I only wish I could’ve used it all in the final piece!