Who would have thought twenty years ago that I would still be involved with the Backstreet Boys in one way or another? I certainly didn’t. You never realize how important a music group is to you. That is until you’re involved with an online community of Backstreet Boys’ fans, aka the BSB Army. You try to do what you can to help promote them, help fans out, share news, and more. That is what I’ve been doing since 2001. Twenty years of being a part of the online fan world. Fan clubs, fan sites, fan message boards/forums, and groups. Now there’s the social media world. Where our connection to them is a little more personal than what it used to be.
In the past, we wrote letters to a fan club address. You never knew if you’d get a response back or if they even read your letter. Now you can tell your favorite artists with a message on social media just what they mean to you. You may get a response, but not always, as they receive a ton of tweets and comments. It’s hard for them to respond to everyone when they likely get hundreds of messages at once.
Back in 2001, I started navigating the online world of BSB and being a part of an online fan community. At that time, I didn’t know many people or was as involved as I am these days, but it was the start of everything. The first thing I recall doing was voting for BSB on TRL online or visiting the official website. I didn’t know anything about groups, forums, or fan sites except for backstreet.net. I wasn’t into it as much as my online time was limited. When I had my computer, I would venture onto AOL BSB chat rooms mostly and a few Yahoo groups. I began getting into fan fiction and started writing my own too. It wasn’t until 2003 when I started a few groups of my own.
Yahoo groups were where I began to share news and chat with other fans. I even had fan fiction groups. As time went on, I began to go onto forums and other fan sites. While I wasn’t a big fan of the Live Daily forum at first, eventually, it became the place for BSB news. I still talk to some of the same people that I met there. The Live Daily website closed in 2010. Fans moved on to a forum called The Dark Side. It was created months before by another fan named Emma when fans disapproved of how mods handled things on Live Daily. The admins decided to keep the forum portion of Live Daily elsewhere. Mods said this would be a fresh start. That wasn’t the case. In the end, most fans stuck with The Dark Side forum.
There were a few other forums that I joined in 2004 as well. Remember DLS? I was a moderator on their forum back in 2005. It was the first time that I was a moderator. I can’t recall how long I was a moderator, but it was at least a year. It was a learning experience for me. I was passionate about the things I do to help fans. Looking back, I learned a lot by being there. It helped with my site. I did enjoy my time being there, even if I didn’t always get along with people.
That’s the one thing I learned about being in a fan community or fandom. Not everyone will be your friend or like you. I worked hard to keep things in order, keep everyone updated, and some people don’t like that. They take things the wrong way and despise you. It’s not easy being with other fans either. You think you can trust people and learn that you can’t always trust them. I was bullied, made fun of, and talked about behind my back. It didn’t stop me from being here, helping fans to stay informed about all things BSB.
You realize you can’t allow people to get to you or affect what you do. People can be jealous. They can hate, can make you feel what you do is worthless or mediocre. I find that everyone with a website or blog does the best that they can. Those who know me know I don’t claim to be better than anyone else. I do the best that I can to help. I don’t try to be someone I’m not. You can’t please everyone, and you shouldn’t. I ignore the negativity these days. People may still talk, but you can’t let it get to you. You eventually will find that there are people out there that appreciate what you do and are supportive.
In July 2006, I started my fan site on Nick, Kaos Online. I had some memorable moments because of it. One of them is getting the opportunity to update Nick’s official website. Sometimes Nick would even ask me to help with things. Such as helping with a setlist for his All American tour in 2016. He had fans submit to me what songs they wanted to hear. Whenever there were new interviews, I would share them on his website. Just like I did with my own. I still kept my site while I helped with his. The fan site was online until August 2018.
Nick knew of my fansite long before he relaunched his official site. He joined a MySpace group that I owned in 2008. I remember having to make sure it was him. In those days, you didn’t have verified icons by the person’s name. Their profiles probably were listed on the official site. I went on his profile to make sure it was him. I was surprised that he would join my group. It was the first time I knew that he was aware of my fansite. A few years later, in 2011, I was asked to help on his website. I began doing so in the summer of 2012. I would be getting to do what I loved to do on his.
Nick also wrote a post welcoming me while they were in London recording “In A World Like This.” If you ever watched the BSB documentary, you’ll notice the scene where the guys were having breakfast. Nick was on his laptop. That is when he wrote that post. You don’t see what he’s writing, but I recognized the website on his computer. I didn’t expect to see that during the documentary. It’s nice to have those moments documented in a way.
These days, I no longer update it, but I’m still there as moderator. I also moderate the fan club groups for both BSB and Nick on Facebook. I’m still grateful for that opportunity to update Nick’s site. You never expect that the person you’ve been a fan of for years knows who you are, appreciates, and supports you.
Running my fan site, I learned a lot about how it isn’t easy. Always making sure things are updated. I don’t mean just with the news. It’s the back-end things, the designs, and so on. Then there was posting news, media, and photos. I’ve always searched for the latest interviews, media, and more. To make sure fans had the latest info. Fans would often help as well. That’s another good thing about being in the BSB Army. When you needed help, fans were there to help you. My fan site wasn’t just me finding things, I’d post what other fans would share.
While I may not have my website anymore, I still have my site’s social media. There’s the TDS, thedarksidebsb.net forum that I manage and update. Plus, being here at BSBFangirls. As you see, I’ve done a lot in this fandom over the past 20 years. We’ve gone through different forums to social media. I left many things out to not make this post way too long.
There have been times when I feel like giving it all up. Even in 2003 or 2004, I was thinking of no longer coming online as I dealt with being bullied daily. Even in more recent years, there were times I wanted to quit, but I’m still here because of the people I’ve met over the years. For the fans that still follow me to receive updates. There have been incredible moments that make it hard to leave. Instead, a break from time to time is necessary when things feel like it’s too much.
Throughout the past eleven years, I was able to see BSB several times and meet friends that I’ve made online in person. That’s one of the things I loved about seeing BSB concerts or events. It wasn’t just about them, but the friends I’ve made because of them. You find people you can connect with in the BSB Army and consider them friends.
Twenty years is a long time to be involved with the BSB Army. I’ve seen people come and go. I’ve seen the good and the bad. Despite its ups and downs, I wouldn’t change things. Certain situations made me be a better person. I’ve learned and grown a lot. Who knows what will happen in the years to come, but for now, we’re here. Doing what we love and showing our support for a group that gave us a lot for twenty-eight years.