Way back in February 2019, I created Part I of this topic. If you haven’t read it already, then you should probably get on that! :p
In Part II, I discuss “future-as-present” thinking, and how this super-ambitious approach helped ARMYs transform BTS into the most popular, and among the most successful, music groups in the world.
…With one major consequence that we need to move on from ASAP!
As I previously explained,
“For ARMYs, the concepts of “past,” “present” and “future” exist together as part of one current reality, guiding how we work together to achieve goals.”
In Part I, I discussed the fandom’s “past-as-present” thinking, a mindset where ARMY functions as though directly influenced by the past as if it were the immediate present.
But future-as-present thinking is a bit different; there is no point of reference as the future has yet to unfold.
Future-As-Present Thinking: Goals As Inevitable Achievements
When it comes to future-as-present thinking, you have to not only imagine a future where your goals can come true, but you must also behave as if it’s already occurred!
Some refer to this as the “law of attraction,” and all though it’s a popular concept in certain circles, to my knowledge, it’s not something that was ever purposely explained to ARMY. A lot of us just instinctively went with it. Because, well, why not? When you lack a sense of entitlement and have nothing to lose, you aren’t exactly bound by traditional limitations as to how far you can expect to go.
Sooooo why not start working toward achieving the craziest sh*t possible?! BTS getting major awards and performing on the biggest stages worldwide.
By treating such goals as inevitable rather than simply possible, ARMY applied present-as-future thinking. Of course, it’s not enough to just say something like, “X will happen!” Action is most definitely required. ARMY capitalized on some key fandom distinctions in terms of attitude and approach to make things happen.
ARMYs Are Everyone: Breaking Stereotypes To Shatter The Limits Of Fandom Growth
Despite what some members of the Western media think, there is no one singular demographic that makes up the BTS ARMY. If that were the case, BTS would already be over.
Instead, ARMY consistently treats BTS as a group that should be listened to by almost everyone. Regardless of one’s age, gender identity, ethnicity, or pre-existing music tastes, they could claim a spot in the ARMY fandom and feel welcome. It was very important for fans across the world to work together to eliminate stereotypes related to ARMY identity by making it clear that we wanted almost everyone to be ARMYs. Removing this limiter lets us welcome an infinite number of people into the fandom.
People continue to be perplexed by the size and visibility of ARMYs without understanding that ARMYs were and in some ways remain obsessed with growth.
Many of the things we wanted and want for BTS were not practical for a small, anonymous fandom. To make goals a reality, the fandom required massive growth!
It became clear as we moved through the Love Yourself era that with each album release, the fandom was growing by noticeable spurts. This observation continued into the Map of the Soul era.
While there’s still a remarkable level of willful ignorance as to why BTS continues to grow internationally, for the observant, it cannot be understated that BTS produces amazing music while being incredible artists and performers. Their music is worth buying and listening to across multiple platforms. The members are so genuine and likable, it makes it very easy to care about and support them.
But alongside these facts, you can credit ARMY for never shutting up about BTS and using the power of word-of-mouth to talk about them to family, friends, co-workers, and even total strangers.
Even if radio continues to ignore BTS, that they got their name out there anyway should be enough to indicate just how powerful the international ARMY network really is when compared to 20th-century tastemakers.
All in all, the ARMY is a very diverse fandom that genuinely enjoys BTS’s content. We understood somewhat instinctively that it would take a massive amount of promotion combined with intensive financial investment on our part to help our faves reach the top of the music mountain. The process forced us to defy every pre-conceived notion and label.
Importing BTS: “You’ll Love Them When You Hear Them!”
ARMY want BTS in our homes, our stadiums, and yes, on our radio stations. It’s a desire that’s been feverishly shared by fandom members all over the world, to the point where we coordinate and help each other. So when demand that’s too great to ignore gets answered, you have what’s happened to BTS over the last few years, which is astronomic growth in fame, reach, and sales.
This fandom has always felt that everyone needs to know who BTS is, what BTS is, why BTS is, and we refuse to shut up until Mic Drop is getting broadcast on Mars. And probably not even then.
ARMYs saw a future where BTS was the biggest group in the world and we did everything we could to make that future a reality. Because the alternative was losing BTS!
Future-As-Present Thinking Consequence? Fear And Stress
I can say having done the research that BTS is not only the most successful Korean group to debut in 2013, but also probably the only one that’s comfortably successful. The reason for that is international members of BTS ARMY truly understanding the consequences of inaction and forging a bond with the Korean portion of the fandom to work together as needed and offer emotional support.
The outlook for K-idol groups with international fans who continue to fail to grasp this concept is grim. If we were to consider the current situation in K-pop, it’s a genre littered with the corpses of short-lived groups and idol careers. The irony is that in always marketing and discussing K-pop as a whole, the industry gutted the potential of so many individual groups. ESPECIALLY, those connected to companies that lack the reach of the so-called “Big 3” (JYP, SM, and YG Entertainment respectively).
Without massive sales, these acts are toast. Yet getting many of their international fans to spend the necessary money on them is practically like pulling teeth. Bizarrely, the narrative is now one of “social media support and YouTube streams are enough,” when a realist knows that nothing can be achieved without the financial support of a strong fandom and members of the general public. Companies do not pour millions of dollars into these acts for the purpose of getting paid in Twitter hashtags.
Groups that aren’t profitable will ultimately see themselves placed on indefinite hiatus with the few members deemed “marketable” perhaps getting a chance. And despite what solo stans dream, there’s no guarantee here, either. So why take that gamble?
When faced with such an outcome for BTS, fear became a powerful motivator for ARMYs everywhere. There was at times a very strong fear that series of events could lead to losing BTS somehow. Fear of fandom failure walks hand in hand with fear of BTS no longer being around.
Many of the fears expressed towards BTS and their global career isn’t rational in 2020. It’s true that fear was a powerful contributor to fandom action in the past, but it’s been years since it was a rational source of motivation. BTS is successful. ARMY can and will eventually achieve fandom goals.
There’s no reason to behave as if ARMYs never get anything done just because we didn’t meet every single goal within the first 12 hours of a comeback. You do you, Susanna Boo Boo, but maaaaybe take a step back from being a negative, nagging, pain in the behind, who frequently refers to hardworking total strangers as “lazy.”
As you can see, a consequence of this form of future-as-present thinking (“What will we do if we lose BTS?”) is a HUGE amount of mental and emotional stress. Either feeling it one’s self or attacking others until they feel it instead. That’s something to avoid as it’s the type of burnout that causes people to step away from fandoms rather than invest time and energy. Your fear-based rationale is closer to enabling a self-fulling prophecy than proactively aiding fandom goals.
ARMYs aren’t so much speaking things into existence as acting them into existence.
It might seem like a strange series of coincidences until you remember how active ARMYs are as a fandom. We promote BTS tirelessly, interact with each other a lot across multiple platforms and engage in streaming and buying behaviors daily.
When you have an energized and active fan base that has grown by leaps and bounds, fandom goals become easier and easier to realize.
As long as ARMY remains an energized, engaged, and interconnected fandom, I believe everything will continue to move in a positive direction. 🙂
That’s all for PART II! In the concluding Part III, I’ll compare and contrast “past-as-present” thinking with “future as present” and why having both things happening at once is crucial for fandom health as well as extending BTS’ career lifespan.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF ARMY’S “MENTAL TIME TRAVEL” HABITS? SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS BELOW!