The way to travel back to earth: Mapping the design of BTS concert endings

If you are ARMY (a BTS fan), you probably know the common structure of a BTS concert, and you probably know about the last-song lie. This lie has been told at BTS concerts since at least 2015. Here’s what happens. About two hours in, one of the guys, usually RM, announces that “this is the last song.” But really, it’s only the last song before a short break, after which they always return for their encore set—to nobody’s surprise. When RM makes this last song announcement, there is still about another hour’s worth of concert to go, and the audience knows it.

Why has saying something technically untrue become such a reliable feature of BTS’ concerts? Because BTS are masters of something extremely difficult: ending well. They put a great deal of thought into how they end their shows, and they do so because they care about their fans—and themselves—not only in those key emotional moments, but in all other moments too.

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Other People Movement

I recently worked as an experience design consultant with Other People Movement (OPM).

OPM is a company that applies principles from positive psychology to address loneliness by convening small, diverse groups of strangers to connect deeply with one another. OPM offers Circles, which are facilitated online gatherings that provide tools for people to see and hear one another as their whole selves, and Collectives, which are months-long group memberships of the same people who regularly meet in Circles.

My work on improvements to the membership experience led to the next Collective being the very first to make a full-year membership commitment.

I originally came to OPM as a member of a 3-month Collective pilot, and found each experience to be moving and nourishing. OPM founder Sophia knew of my background in applied positive psychology, and therefore my enthusiasm for experiences that satisfy our human need to connect meaningfully and authentically with other people. I also shared my impressions of how successful Circles were from an experience design perspective with her once my first 3-month Collective concluded. It was clear to me that the structure of Circles was already working well, and Sophia is a masterful facilitator. But Sophia knew that even more could be done, and asked for my help in taking OPM to the next level.

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Reciprocity Ring facilitation at Rhizome Connect virtual conference

The Reciprocity Ring is a structured activity that has been used in group settings (originally within corporations) to prompt giving behaviors, tapping into the collective’s potential for generosity and social support. I proposed and facilitated a Reciprocity Ring event for Rhizome Connect, a virtual social and scholarly event for BTS fans that took place August 7 – 16, 2020.

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