Contributions to Rhizome Connect virtual conference

Rhizome Connect is a virtual social and scholarly event for BTS fans taking place August 7 – 16, 2020. It is presented by the Rhizomatic Revolution Review, a peer-reviewed publication about BTS.

I am presenting a virtual booth (short paper) on the topic of “BTS and positive psychology: New pathways for exploring BTS’ effect on well-being.”

I am also facilitating a Reciprocity Ring social event.

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Bang Bang Con: The Live – Experience Design Case Study of a Virtual Concert

Last weekend at around 4:30 AM, I rolled over to turn off my alarm, already wide awake from excitement for a virtual concert by BTS called Bang Bang Con: The Live. I had slept in my “concert outfit” (merch t-shirt) and my ARMY Bomb lightstick was on my bedside table ready to go. Waking up at crazy hours for BTS is sort of a no-brainer for me at this point; in fact it all feels like part of the experience for ARMYs who live outside of Asia and Oceania. I tweeted to assure my ARMY friends I was awake.

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The Magic Shop, part 3: Magical Healing Therapy

Read part 1 (Psychodrama) here. Read part 2 (Manifestation) here

Minutes before the introduction to the Magic Shop concert described in part 2, as fans wait for the official livestream to begin, a different set of messages appear. The screen is framed by the title “Magical Inquiry” at the top and a footnote that reads “Make you Feel better Magical Healing Therapy.” The instrumental of “Magic Shop” plays in the background. A series of questions are revealed, slowly, one after the other. First, “What is your name?” Then, “How old are you?” It continues: “Where are you from? What is your interest? Who do you love the most? What is your favorite song? What is your dream? When is your happiest moment throughout the day? What is the most disturbing memory in your life? What is the most important memory in your life? What is the concern that you’d like to share? The magicshop is ready to hear them all.”

If BTS’ reason for being is to manifest positive change by comforting and healing their fans, this series of questions is a good illustration of how that magic works.

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The Magic Shop, part 2: Manifestation

Read part 1 (Psychodrama) here.

A doorbell rings once, twice, three times. Text appears on a backdrop of what looks like a starry night sky. A soothing voiceover begins to read the words in English: “Welcome to the magicshop. Any worries you’d like to share? Any wish you’d like to make come true? The magicshop will be your guidance. But first, I will need your keys. Concentrate on opening the door to the magicshop. Keep calm and relax. Take a deep breath.” The soft background music transforms into a recognizable melody from the song “2! 3!” The voice continues: “Empty your minds and focus. Imagine a door leading to your minds. What you want the most stands behind that door. Just believe. And your magicshop will come true. Are you ready? I’ll show you.” The concert begins.

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The Magic Shop, part 1: Psychodrama

BTS has built their own lexicon of significant words and ideas through repeated use and re-contextualization across all aspects of their creative work. One of these ideas that I find particularly interesting is the Magic Shop. The Magic Shop does not mean only one thing and does not originate from only one source. But all of these meanings and references are rooted in psychology. So naturally, I wanted to explore and learn more.

I’ve come to understand that there are three main meanings of BTS’ Magic Shop: as psychodrama, as manifestation, and as Magic Healing Therapy. The first two have to do with references to outside sources, and the third is distinctly Bangtan.

I also found that the Magic Shop connects, in one way or another, to nearly every aspect of BTS’ creative work and social efforts. This is a testament to the very mission-driven nature of what they do, and I think the Magic Shop is actually an embodiment of that mission. So instead of only one post trying to cover everything about the Magic Shop, I am dedicating one post to each of its three meanings so I can dig deeper on them all.

This is part 1: The Magic Shop is psychodrama.

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What it means to matter

Welcome! Although I have previously written about games and psychology, I consider this my first blog post in a new series about the connections between my favorite topics: video games, positive psychology, and the pop artists BTS. 

In May, I went to both nights of BTS’ Love Yourself: Speak Yourself tour at the Rose Bowl. At the second show, in his speech before the final song, Kim Namjoon declared that “tonight, we are one.” It was absolutely true. In that moment, I felt that he was speaking directly to me, in a far-off section among tens of thousands of other fans in the stadium, while also knowing he was speaking directly to all of us.

One week later, I attended commencement with my family and classmates and officially earned my master’s degree. And yet, none of the speakers made me feel as understood and recognized and valued as I’d felt at the concert. I was struck by the contrast. As a celebration, there is no comparison, but the difference goes beyond which was more fun to attend. Why did I derive so much more meaning among a highly diverse crowd of strangers than from a ceremony that is supposed to speak directly to my experiences from the past two years?

Equipped with lingering online access to university library resources, I started to research the psychology of mattering. I quickly found that to understand anything about mattering is to understand something about meaning.

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