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Problematic Fans 101.2 – Tips and tactics for handling problematic fans

In part one of this series, I discussed how to distinguish between the various types of problematic fans and the wide range of problematic behaviors. Here, we’ll focus on how you can deal with these problematic fans in ways that are emotionally healthy, physically safe, and bring glory to God. Continue reading


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Problematic Fans 101.1 – How to recognize a problematic fan and identify why they’re problematic

If you consistently follow a performer’s activities and interact with their other fans in person or online, chances are you will encounter a problematic fan. Simply put, a problematic fan is any fan with whom you have a problem. These problems can take a variety of forms, but they usually stem from the following root: their behavior – on social media or in real life – is annoying, upsetting, or downright damaging to you, other fans, or the performer themselves.

So how do you deal with these fans? The first step is identifying the nature of the problem. Taking the time to do this will help you respond appropriately. Please note that such problems can have multiple layers, so you may find that several of the following factors are involved in your particular situation. Continue reading

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Tete-a-tete: Admissions about the college admissions process

In the decade since I earned my undergraduate degree, the entire concept of college has changed dramatically. Aside from the price tag, the biggest shift has been in the expectations that schools have for their prospective students.

I came to this conclusion during an admissions presentation at Oldest Younger Brother’s alma mater, which we were touring because 17-year-old Youngest Brother is also interested in attending. Required ranges for SAT scores and GPAs flashed across the screen as the admissions representative stressed the importance of taking classes in high school that would prepare you for your chosen major in college, in addition to taking as many AP classes as possible.

As our family was exiting the presentation room and joining our group for the campus tour, I asked Oldest Younger Brother if he thought he’d still be able to get into his school today. He hesitated and then replied, “Probably not at the same the level.” He had been in the honors program, a distinction awarded to the top 10 percent of applicants.

I was somewhat less confident of what my results would be if I reapplied to my alma mater. I was certainly no slouch as a student – I graduated from high school as third in my class – but my college was extremely competitive academically, and I can only imagine how that’s escalated over the last ten years.

Our tour guide did little to boost my confidence. He chatted cheerfully about his major, his minor, his internships, and the various student activities and off-campus volunteer organizations in which he participates. Though I admire his dedication, I simply cannot fathom how an already busy student has time to be involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters. It was challenging enough for me to stay in touch with my own siblings.

Mom reminded me that campus tour guides are typically exemplary individuals, as this presents a more impressive image of the college to prospective students, but I still believe that college applicants today are expected to be more ambitious and accomplished than those of yesteryear. In addition to higher expectations for grades, test scores, class load, and extracurricular activities, there’s a greater emphasis on community service and experiences abroad.

Even typically even-keeled Youngest Brother was momentarily overwhelmed as the realities of the admission requirements hit him. “Why didn’t you guys tell me this stuff sooner?” he asked as we traipsed about the campus.

Mom and Dad gently reminded him that they had been telling him these things since at least eighth grade. It’s just that the extra GPA points you earn from taking a weighted class, for example, don’t seem that important until you realize they may be the difference between studying in the state-of-the-art engineering lab in which you are now standing and being waitlisted.

And with so many high-achieving, community-minded global citizens competing for admission, it’s harder – and more important – than ever to set yourself apart from the other applicants. When everyone has the same GPA and SAT scores and a glowing list of extracurricular achievements, your admissions essay is what can make you stand out.

I firmly believe that I got into college on the strength of my personality and sense of humor, as expressed through my admissions essay. The prompt directed me to write about difficult circumstances in my life and how I had overcome them, a classic that likely shows up on applications today.

Everyone goes through difficult circumstances in their life, whether it’s the illness of a family member, growing up in poverty, or experiencing racism. I figured the admissions staff would be reading numerous essays on such topics and grappling with the challenges of measuring one person’s difficulties against another’s, so I decided to take a different approach and interpret “difficult circumstances” a bit more loosely.

My essay focused on the differences in international bathrooms and the difficulties in adjusting to these differences as a traveler. I had been fortunate to participate in several international excursions during high school, so I had plenty of material from which to draw, such as having to remember, in spite of my jet-lag-induced brain fog, that the toilet in my Athens hotel room did not have an actual seat.

This led to an admissions interview, which quickly turned into swapping stories about cooking disasters with the admissions representative and us laughing so much that we lost track of time. A few weeks later, I received my acceptance letter.

To clarify, personality and a sense of humor did not take the place of the admissions requirements – I did have the academic and extracurricular background to be considered in the first place. These qualities and the way I expressed them, however, are what set me apart from a sea of similarly accomplished applicants.

If you or your child or your grandchild happens to be stressing over GPA points, AP class availability, and leadership roles in school activities or community organizations, allow me to share with you the same advice I gave to Youngest Brother: do the best you can in these areas and take the time to write an admissions essay that expresses who you are as a person, not just as a list of accomplishments or your life circumstances.

That’s one thing that hasn’t changed about colleges over the last decade. Even though they’re looking for people of a certain caliber, they’re still looking for people. Show them what a desirable candidate you are as a person, and you’re one step closer to admission.

– Teresa Santoski

Originally published Aug. 6, 2015


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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. Continue reading

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Six straightforward steps for surviving a K-pop performer’s mandatory military service

It’s something every fan of Korean pop music will have to deal with at least once in their life: the mandatory military service of a favorite performer. South Korea requires that all Korean-born men serve in the military full-time for a certain period of time. Men have from age 20 to age 30 to complete their service and the length of service depends on the branch of the military in which they serve. At this time, service requirements are 21 months for the Army and the Marines, 23 months for the Navy, and 24 months for the Air Force. For more information on South Korea’s mandatory military service, click here and here.

What’s a fan to do in circumstances like these? This is a long time to go without updates, events, or new projects from a favorite performer. The performer is also in a potentially dangerous environment, which can be worrying for a fan. How does a fan take care of himself or herself during this difficult time and also continue to support the absent performer? Continue reading

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Tete-a-tete: Grieving entertainment losses with a few simple steps

Thanks to the lightning-fast capabilities of social media, news travels quickly these days and becomes outdated even more quickly. Our minds and hearts, however, haven’t kept pace with the digital revolution. The human psyche is still pretty analog, and we need time to process and grieve distressing and confusing events.

I’m talking, of course, about Zayn’s departure from One Direction.

Unless you happen to be a teenage girl (or the parent of one), a boy band member’s decision to leave his globally-known group at the peak of its fame may not seem all that devastating – that is, until you put it in perspective. Many of us have found ourselves grieving in comparable situations.

For example, depending on your age and your entertainment preferences, how did you feel when the Beatles broke up? How about when Diane left the TV sitcom “Cheers” or when “M*A*S*H” or “Seinfeld” aired their final episodes? Did the deaths of individuals like Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Jerry Garcia or Whitney Houston shake up your world?

Entertainment has a significant impact on our lives, and it’s not hard to see why. The right song, the right movie or TV show can show us we’re not alone in our experiences and how we see the world. Likewise, entertainment can also serve as a form of escapism, a way to take a break from reality when life gets difficult. Who hasn’t blasted something like the Ramones’ “The Job That Ate My Brain” after a rough day at the office or sobbed their way through “Pretty in Pink” or “Sleepless in Seattle” after a romantic disappointment?

But what do you do when your escape succumbs to the inevitability of change due to performers or characters dying or otherwise departing? How do you not only cope, but heal and move on?

When I wrote “Prayers for Oppa,” my devotional prayer book for performers and their fans, I never imagined I’d become an expert on what I’ve since dubbed “fan crisis management.” But that’s pretty much what has happened.

My personal area of interest is East Asian entertainment, particularly Korean pop music, or K-pop. 2014 was a year of near-constant crisis for the K-pop industry, including a car crash that killed two members of the girl group Ladies’ Code and injured the other three, a number of performers suing their agencies for abuse and mistreatment, and numerous groups losing members or disbanding entirely. Factor in the Sewol Ferry tragedy – in which nearly 300 people drowned, including more than 200 students on a high school trip – and 2014 was an extremely difficult year for South Korea and those who appreciate the country’s pop culture.

As a result of having dealt with and guided others through so many entertainment-related tragedies in such a small span of time, I’ve come up with the following list of tried and true steps for fan recovery.

Recognize that you have a reason to feel upset.

It’s not “just a band” or “only a TV show.” These are more than performers or characters – they’re role models, friends, even family. They say what’s on your mind better than you ever could, or cheer you up when you’re feeling down. It’s a difficult loss, and it’s OK to acknowledge that.

Express your grief in healthy ways.

Talk to other fans or a trusted friend or relative about what you’re feeling. Listen to that band’s songs or re-watch that TV series and have a good cry. A glass of wine or an ice cream sundae can be a nice pick-me-up, but be careful not to self-medicate with food, alcohol or drugs. Give yourself some time to process and gain perspective before you post on social media.


Ephesians 6:18 tells us to pray “on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” In my book (quite literally, as this is the foundational verse of “Prayers for Oppa”), that includes everything from boy band breakups to the end of “Friends.”

Talk to God about what you’re feeling. Express your anger, your disappointment, your sadness – He can handle it. Then, pray for the performers who are involved in the event that has upset you. If someone has left, pray for the person who has left and for those who remain, for their health and well being and for God to guide them as they move forward in their careers. If someone has died, pray for the people he or she has left behind, that God would comfort and heal them.

I really can’t overemphasize the importance of prayer in this process. It brings us comfort and a sense of security and control in the midst of uncertain circumstances, for it reminds us that God is ultimately in charge of the situation and that He will take care of us and the performers in accordance with His will and purposes.

Focus on the positive.

If it’s currently too painful, feel free to take a break from the TV series, music, etc. Otherwise, continue to enjoy it, as well as to treasure the memories you have because of it. Maybe you and your mother bonded over a shared love of “Cheers.” Perhaps one of the happiest outings you’ve had with your father was when he took you to a Nirvana concert. Though band lineups and TV series casts are subject to change, the memories we have as a result of them are lasting.

You can find more sound advice on performer-related topics, along with applicable prayers and Bible verses, in my “Prayers for Oppa” book. For more information, visit my website, www.teresasantoski.com.

I hope these steps will help you to grieve your entertainment-related tragedies in a healthy way, whether it’s a fresh wound like Zayn’s departure from One Direction or an older injury that still aches from time to time, like the Day the Music Died. Though entertainment news and our hearts break at about the same speed, our hearts require more time to heal and move on.

– Teresa Santoski

Originally published April 30, 2015



Here’s an ideal conversation between a distraught One Direction fan and a caring parent:

Fan: (sobbing) “Zayn left One Direction! The world is over!”

Parent: “I’m so sorry, honey. I remember how upset I was when Diane left ‘Cheers.’ Do you want to talk about it? We can go get some ice cream and reminisce about how much fun it was when we went to their concert together. And then we can say a little prayer for Zayn and the rest of the members. God will take good care of them.”

Fan: (sniffling) “OK. Can we listen to ‘Story of My Life’ in the car?”

Parent: “We’ll blast it.”

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Tete-a-tete: Parents, do not give your child the name equivalent of the April birthstone

Over the past year, an unprecedented number of my friends and relatives have either become pregnant or given birth, inundating my Facebook timeline and my postal mailbox with birth announcements, sonogram images, and baby pictures. The parenting advice is likewise flying fast and furious.

Since I don’t have children of my own, I have little to say regarding sleep schedules or swaddling techniques, but there is one piece of advice I feel very qualified to give. It is as follows: Parents, please do not give your child the name equivalent of the April birthstone.

As an April baby myself, I’ve lived my entire life with the disappointment of having the diamond as my birthstone. In theory, it’s an enviable gem to have associated with your birth month. Diamonds are beautiful, valuable and, as the traditional choice for engagement rings, a symbol of eternal love.

In reality, however, it doesn’t play out so well. When I was in elementary school, birthstone jewelry was popular amongst my circle of friends. The gems were artificial, of course, but they were sparkly and colorful, which are the most important things to little girls.

My friend with a May birthday had a ring with a green sparkle representing her emerald birthstone. My friend who had a February birthday had a necklace with a purple sparkle to reflect her amethyst birthstone.

I, on the other hand, didn’t bother buying any birthstone jewelry because it wasn’t worth it. All April got was a clear piece of glass. It didn’t even sparkle. I considered buying the January birthstone jewelry because the fake garnet was such a beautiful shade of deep red, but I felt it would be dishonest.

Now that I’m an adult who can ostensibly afford the real version of my birthstone, I face different conundrums. Cubic zirconia has become such a common and convincing substitute for diamond that most people can’t tell if the diamond you’re wearing is real or not – and they’ll generally assume it’s not. Why pay for a real diamond when no one will recognize it as such?

Also, there is no way I can wear a birthstone ring – real or otherwise – without people congratulating me and asking me when the wedding is. Really, given all the challenges diamonds pose, April might as well not have a birthstone at all.

Parents don’t have much control over their child’s birthstone, but they do have control over something far more important: their child’s name. Names are an essential part of daily life and therefore much harder to overlook than birthstones. Potential parents, I encourage you to consider every aspect of your child’s name before you finalize it lest it become a source of disappointment to them instead of the joyful indicator of identity it should be.

Here are a few ways to avoid making a name the equivalent of an April birthstone:

  • Make sure the first name matches well with the last name. Justin, for example, is a great name for a boy, but you may want to rethink it if his last name is Case.
  • Abstain from unusual spellings of traditional names. You may think “Mayri” is a lovely alternative to Mary, and your daughter may one day agree. In the meantime, however, you’ll be consoling her because her friends all bought those personalized keychains at the dollar store for their backpacks and she can never find anything with her name on it. This is to say nothing of the challenges she’ll have in explaining the correct spelling and pronunciation of her name to teachers, doctors, and the world at large.
  • Think about how the name might be received in a professional environment. Honey might be a sweet name for a little girl, but it may create some awkward situations for your daughter when she enters the business world. If you absolutely want to give your child a cute first name, consider giving them a more traditional middle name that they can use professionally if they desire.
  • Consider associations with popular characters or public figures. Any boy named Troy is liable to be serenaded with songs from the “High School Musical” movies at some point, and every Kevin will be asked to make the “Home Alone” face at least once in his life.

These guidelines aren’t intended to discourage parents from giving their child a name that has a complicated spelling or comes with associated cultural baggage. They’re simply an encouragement to think about potential names from a variety of angles and the impact your child’s name might have on their life and their relationships with others.

The most important characteristic of a name is that it should be meaningful, perhaps because it’s a family name that’s been passed down through the generations or it’s a name that represents your child’s ethnic heritage or perhaps because of what the name means in and of itself. The significance of the name to your child should outweigh any complications he or she has to deal with as a result of having it.

I wouldn’t trade the name Teresa for anything, in spite of constantly having to tell people (even my relatives) that there’s no H in my name and having been referred to as “Mother Teresa” by some of my Sunday School classmates. To me, my name is worth these minor frustrations.

My birthstone, on the other hand, is not. If anyone with a January birthday would like to see about swapping birthstones, let me know. I still think garnets are quite lovely.

– Teresa Santoski


Originally published April 2, 2015.

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How to cope with the departure of a group member

It’s an unfortunate reality of the music industry that members sometimes leave their groups. The member’s departure often sends a shockwave through the fandom, leaving fans confused, hurt, upset, and uncertain where to go from here.

So what’s a fan to do in these circumstances? How can you handle a member’s departure in a godly and healthy way, especially if that member is your favorite? Continue reading

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What can you do when your favorite performer doesn’t notice you?

For a dedicated fan, there is no greater thrill than being noticed by their favorite performer. This may take the form of interaction during a concert or other event, an exchange during the audience-participation segment of an interview, or a response on social media.

The unfortunate truth, however, is that some fans may never receive the recognition they desire from their favorite performers. This can be painful and disappointing, especially if the fan has been a long-time supporter and is still waiting to be noticed.

So what’s a fan to do in these circumstances? Continue reading

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How to pray for and encourage performers through social media

You’ve decided to take the Prayers for Oppa Performer Prayer Challenge and pray for a performer and encourage them through social media. But how exactly do you do this? Chances are you don’t know the performer personally, so how can you be sure the messages you’re sending them are relevant to their circumstances and pleasing to God?

In addition to the more specific guidance you’ll find in my Prayers for Oppa performer/fan devotional book, here are a few practical tips to guide you on your way: Continue reading

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