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Netizens: World Without Walls

In light of the events that led to Park Jaebeom’s departure from 2PM, and ultimately from Korea—for fans, every cuss word in the dictionary that has to be said about the netizens has been said. We have always thought that the netizens are low-life entities that have way too much time in their hands. Digging up a comment dated 2005, not even on Jay’s own account but on a series web connections via his friends is no easy feat. Maybe this isn’t just an issue about their nature, but a reflection of the relationship between the Korean Entertainment industry and the Internet system as a whole.

We have always asked, what is the nature of the netizens that makes them have as much “power” as they seem to have? But maybe we are asking the wrong question. What is it that allows them to have that “power?”

A space for anonymity

We all know that the Internet consists of nameless, faceless, age-less, gender-less, race-less (and whatever socio-economic category + less) people coming from different backgrounds. It’s not just a divide in physical or geographical space. Anyone who’s anyone can be whoever they want to be. No one can really tell who’s behind the computer screen, no one can determine whose ideas go with which person. I can be a teenage dude one day and an old lady the next! In relation to Jay’s issue, a “female” netizen claimed that she was responsible for ratting out Jay’s comments to a reporter and putting it out in the open for everyone to see. I was a bit surprised that some people said “Well at least now we know that netizen is a she.” But will that make any difference? My point is, we always say that netizens are scary. But I think it would be safer to generalize that the Internet is the one that’s really scary. Behind those nameless, faceless people are humans as well. I’m not saying this in defense of netizens but the avenue which makes them the way they are can also be a factor.

A sense of freedom

In relation to being anonymous, comes a huge claim on freedom. No one knows who I am (except maybe my friends in my social network) so I can say whatever the hell I want! Or I could make up another identity and make a comment under that name. Anything goes! In Jay’s side, he must have felt this freedom to vent out his frustrations to a friend (which is normal), but again, the avenue he used to do it is the Internet. A lot of people are saying that of course he didn’t know the situation will blow up to this extent (in any case who can really forsee this will happen?), and the conversation between him and his friend was invaded—but can these reasons match up with the fact that the web is an open and public space? Even e-mails can be traced, accounts can be hacked, anything you do on the net can and will be used against you if you’re not careful. Again, it’s beyond SCARY. I do understand though, that Jay has the right for freedom of expression, just like all of us. But I would like to emphasize though that freedom in any form is never absolute. It has its limits. Otherwise there would be no laws. We would be killing each other for all we care. However, with the expanse of the Internet, can laws or limits bind it? Can it protect the rights of several people, much less an individual like Park Jaebeom?

Yes, but it will be hard.

A sense of equality

If there’s a place where netizens can all feel equal, it’s in the net. There was no distinction between a celebrity and an ordinary person when this all happened! I guess in this place, equality can be a double-edged sword. But I kept thinking, however, that the balance is tipped towards the netizens. In this case THEY are more powerful. On the other hand, WHO’s allowing them to be more powerful? I remember when there was this issue with the ending of the drama “Lovers in Paris.” Somehow the plot leaked and the netizens didn’t like it. So the PDs changed it. How many times have we heard about an artist committing suicide because of netizen bombardment? Maybe, just maybe, it’s the whole Korean Entertainment industry that gave them much power. Even individual celebs as well. Surely one can just brush off comments by antis and go on your way. Because netizens are the ones that buy their albums, watch their movies… they can break whoever they made. But is that enough for them to have power?


A personal note

I’m sorry about making a term-paper like post on this subject. It’s just that I feel disheartened not only because of Jay’s departure, but also I am disappointed in the system as a whole—netizens, entertainment companies, celebrities, society, everything. Sometimes I wonder why the hell do I work hard making KPOP posts, an industry that I love and grew up in—only to be disappointed over and over again. Then again, we really can’t point a single finger on anyone. If you point a finger at one person, you might as well point your four remaining fingers on yourself! We can’t disentangle ourselves from the netizens. WE are netizens ourselves. It’s just sad that there a lot of netizens who give it a bad name by frigging going overboard.

Let me end this long spiel with some lines from Ayaka’s song “Peace loving people:”

“Why do we, humans, bring so much pain to each other? Surely, the feeling of falling in love is the same for everyone.
Turning towards the television screen, there is nothing I could do
Save allowing the tears to run down my cheeks – it’s tearing me apart, this heart of mine.”

P.S. This will be the last time I’m going to talk about this topic. I’ve said my piece. Nothing I say or do can change what happened.

10 Responses

  1. This story is very touching. You stated many great points.

  2. very well said as always. it truly is a disappointing matter seeing as it is the unchanging system. it’s just a cycle and it feels like we have no power against it. true i super agree with the “we are netizens ourselves” part. i keep saying that whenever people bash netizens. i go “aren’t we netizens too on some level? lol”. let’s not be hypocrites here. it is scary cause they (and us too for that matter) have so much power behind our keyboards. we love, we go kyahhh, we hate, we bash. we spam, we say whatever we want cause no one really knows who we are in the end. if these people really hate something or someone they should just stop doing whatever they are doing and just ignore the object of hate. if there’s anything you’ve said that truly stuck with me it has to be “opposite of Love is not Hate but INDIFFERENCE.” live it learn it. much love!

    • it is the unchanging system. it’s just a cycle and it feels like we have no power against it. –> THIS. Though since we are part of netizens we can do something about it, but seeing that we come from different backgrounds, understanding and beliefs, it will be hard to find a same ground. ~cries~

  3. what you wrote is so true & no matter what we comment right now will not change the matter.
    there are people who are positive & will support & help people but on the flip side there will be people who are negative & want to hinder others. the net gives us the mask to hide behind.
    from experience when something bad happens some good will come out of it, you experience, your learn & you grow.

    • yeah… you really can’t please EVERYONE. what happened to Jay reflects that one day you can be everyone’s fave, and the next you can be their enemy. i’m not really upset about him being cut off from the group or from JYPE, but what’s more upsetting is that it’s like he was driven off by his OWN kind…:c

  4. I wrote about this in my blog also. Well, I’ve learnt a lot about media and communication especially internet before, but what happened in Korea was actually over the top case.

    One thing that I’ve wrote about it is that: Internet has build the netizens to be a coward and mean person. As we can say anything freely without being shame on our face for doing so. If this issue continues to run in the future, somehow I regret that internet invented.

    • Internet has build the netizens to be a coward and mean person. —> VERY TRUE. The anonymity and spacial distance that allows them to do what they want also makes them a coward because they can’t show their face/identity and own up to whatever they’ve done. Plus knowing that no one will come after them for doing or saying bad things makes them mean. so, so sad…

  5. So beautifully written, and yeah I’m truly disappointed but there is nothing we can do about it now.

  6. Thank you for what you have written. As a fan of Jay myself, I was completely thrown overboard when I heard this news. It was a ruckus, caused by fellow humans. The worst part was when Jay left, a whole barrage of articles start to flood the internet, stating that Jay’s case was unfair, and so forth. Do people really need that particular someone to leave first, before treasuring him or her? But whatever Jay decides to do now, I, as a devoted and respectful fan, would continue supporting Jay, and the rest of 2pm, whom I come to love very much. So please, I beg of you. Don’t lose hope, and be dismal because of all of these negative things, and continue to support kpop with your witty and wonderfully written articles. Thank you again.

  7. It’s sad =(
    I understand you… I’m not since a long time in Kpop.
    But when I see, with my own eyes and not with stories I heard, this whole story : fans/nethizens/companies…
    I felt lost.
    I haven’t others words lol…
    Just lost.
    Even if I usually am open (? xD) or I know that every societies are their faults but…
    But I AM lost oO’ cuz I can’t understand for the moment! It’s not in my capacities ^^’

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