Fans, performers, and appropriate social media use: a response to the events surrounding BTS’s New York City concert

Some fans seem to think that their social media interactions with performers occur inside a vacuum and there are no real-life repercussions to what they post about a performer. As the events surrounding BTS’s recent concert in New York City have shown, the consequences can be extremely negative.

Twitter threats on Rap Monster’s life resulted in an early end to the concert, the cancellation of the fan engagement event, and the mobilization of the city police. Though the most serious threats came from an individual who was not a fan, some fans who disagreed with Rap Monster on certain topics expressed their displeasure in ways that may have contributed to the situation. There is no telling what the long-term effects of this incident will be, both in regards to K-pop events in the United States and (more importantly) the well being of Rap Monster, BTS, and everyone involved in and affected by what happened.

I address social media as it applies to performers in Prayers for Oppa, my devotional prayer book for performers and their fans, but this incident has compelled me to address the topic as it applies to fans as well.

Think before you post

A performer may have thousands of followers on social media and may not respond to you directly, but that doesn’t mean they do not read your messages. They can see them, as can their agency, coworkers, parents, siblings, and friends. When these messages are negative, hurtful, or downright threatening, it affects not only the performer but those who are part of their professional and personal lives.

Your social media accounts are also visible to law enforcement and to the media. During my career in the newspaper industry, I encountered a number of situations where social media posts were used to convict people of crimes—including a fan who was issued a restraining order and forbidden to use Facebook under penalty of arrest for posting threats to a Hollywood actress, even though he lived on the opposite side of the country.

So as a fan, how can you ensure that you’re interacting with performers via social media in healthy and appropriate ways? Matthew 22:37–39 (NIV) sums it up nicely:

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

From the above passage, we can take away two main points to keep in mind when posting about performers on social media:

First: Is it honoring to God?

Does your post reflect a heart, soul, and mind that is devoted to God and looking to encourage others and build them up? What comes out of our mouths reflects what is truly inside our hearts (Luke 6:45). If the faith we profess doesn’t match up with the words that we speak or post, it’s time to make some changes. As James 3:9-12 (NIV) states:

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Second: Would you want someone to post something like this about you or engage with your social media accounts in this way?

In addition to insults about and threats to a performer or those close to them, this can include tagging performers in fan art or fanfics with questionable content, flooding their accounts with repeated requests for a follow or a reply, or threatening to harm or kill yourself if they don’t respond to you. Performers are human beings just like the rest of us. They are our neighbors and our siblings in Christ and should be treated accordingly.

This is not to say that you can never disagree with a performer’s work or behavior and offer appropriate accountability or criticism. Tone and word choice are crucial here. Think about how you would want to be corrected in a public forum and formulate your post accordingly. I have more information on this in my blog post on how to respectfully disagree with a performer’s work.

As additional resources, you may also be interested in my posts on how to handle it when your favorite performer doesn’t acknowledge you and using social media to pray for and encourage performers.

Social media is a powerful tool, one that can do just as much harm as it can good. May we always use it for good and build others up for the glory of God.

– Teresa Santoski

Looking for more godly encouragement geared specifically toward performers and fans? Check out Prayers for Oppa, my performer/fan devotional, which features prayers and Bible verses on Good Health, Performance Safety, Loneliness, and other topics of interest to performers and their fans. For more information, including a sample chapter and how/where to purchase, click  here.

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