Charlotte Parker

Sociology BA (Hons)

"The certain level of anonymity allows me to show excitement and 'fan girl behaviour', especially since the rest of the timeline does it as well".

Exploring fan experience online can provide a unique understanding of user experience and micro-societies. Fandom has an integral role within contemporary society, with social media sites acting as a vessel for communication between fans. My dissertation research focused on the lived experience of ARMYs – the hit band BTS’ fanbase – on Twitter. 111 participants responded to my questionnaire, answering questions on themes such as identity, stigma, hierarchy, and behaviour.

My key findings suggest that fandom is an overwhelmingly positive experience for fans, with the community and general fan environment being viewed positively. Numerous respondents mentioned aspects such as developing a stronger sense of confidence, having more awareness of social issues and forming relationships with other ARMYs as just some of the positives experienced. BTS’ ‘Love Yourself/Myself’ message was referenced often by participants, highlighting the shared importance and relevancy. Another key finding suggested that the ability to curate separate accounts for participating inside and outside the fandom, enables forms of expression otherwise not present in non-ARMY social networks. Numerous respondents referred to a sense of freedom and openness on Twitter which allowed them to safely explore a side of themselves they might otherwise be hesitant to present outside of the ARMY fandom.