According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, a tribe is described as
: a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader
It’s not exactly like a family, but regardless, there’s something unique that ties the members of a tribe together. These tribes use their special lingo and when they’re together, they light each other up with mutual excitement. Often, when someone not from the tribe is witnesses tribe members together, they are utterly lost, as if the others were speaking another language.
Now, I’m pretty sure that as you were reading the previous paragraph, you weren’t really thinking about indigenous tribes. You were most likely imagining people like you and I, in modern clothes and modern commodities. Rather than a tribe dancing by firelight, you probably imagined people getting together talking about a certain book or some band. And in a way, this is the modern tribe and there’s lots of them. I mean, just remember the last time you felt lost when your friends started talking about a TV show together or some celebrity gossip. It’s like they have all this stored knowledge about names and histories and there’s also the inside jokes and lingo and it makes your head spin; yet, there’s something cool about it, something that makes you want something like that for yourself.
And now, with the amazing Internet, tribes have no limit. People can fangirl together over the same topic on opposite sides of the world, one being in daylight and the other in the night. There’s literally no boundaries in tribes; the common interest is stronger than any discrimination. Because once you’re in the tribe, your past and your present don’t shape you as much as what makes you part of the tribe and how you give back to your community. And there’s a sense of freedom in that, in feeling that you belong somewhere.
For me, my Internet tribe is the wild world of the Kpop community. I only recently got used to the Internet community and in fact through the kpop tribe I got to befriend someone who lives in Sweden! I didn’t know that until we started chatting and it blew my mind. I’ve never met anyone from around that area, and through the simple thing of liking the same group, I was able to meet someone. Crazy, isn’t it?
And even more so, there’s a special show called After School Club that’s targeted for global kpop fans that lets fans send in videos and fanart to their favorite groups. Before the show goes live on Youtube, there’s a countdown and a chat tab on the side for anyone to join in the tribe. And when I mean anyone, I mean anyone. There are people from Peru, Canada, Spain, LA, Philippines, Middle Eastern Countries (they were actually writing in Arabic!), and many others. The comments fly by really fast but regardless the choppy English, it’s all about the same topic, the group that’ll be on the show. And the best is in the middle of the fangirling, usually the fans will be like “Shoutout from ______ I stayed up ____ hours to watch this!” and then another fan will say “Hey, me too!” and then everyone will pause fangirling to just soak in the tribe and how wonderfully diverse we are.
I don’t think Kpop, or in fact any modern establishment with a ‘tribal’ following, started with this effect in mind. It just happened and it’s a beautiful effect of like-minded people. Through our tribes, we get to meet so many more people and be exposed to different cultures. For example, my Swedish friend told me about her education system and how it is where she lives. She didn’t think it was a big deal, but I was soaking everything in. And in fact, now I want to go visit Sweden because of her (eyyyyyyy Sky~~~).
Perhaps one of the coolest effects of the phenomenon of the tribe is that you don’t feel alone anymore. It’s the realization that there’s another person with your quirky interests. This isn’t to say that the tribe is all of you, but it let’s you satisfy the part of you that is perhaps not as common where you are or seen as weird. And I think it’s important that people let their interests, even if it’s something as weird as Kpop, lead them to new people. After all, it’s always more fun to fangirl with someone rather than alone~ 🙂