I tend to consider myself an amateur Real World scholar. I say “amateur” because I’ve done no actual university study on this subject, but I still say “scholar” because I’ve stopped watching the show as entertainment. At this point, I only watch it in hopes of unlocking the questions that have haunted man since the dawn of civilization. I’ve seen every episode of every season, and I’ve seen them all a minimum of three times. This, of course, is the key to appreciating The Real World (and the rest of MTV’s programming): repetition. To really get it, you have to watch MTV so much that you know things you never tried to remember. You can’t try to deduce the day-to-day habits of Jon Brennan (he was the cowboy dude) from RW 2: Los Angeles. That would be ridiculous. You can’t consciously try to figure out what he likes and what he hates and how he lives; these are things you have to know without trying. You just have to “know” he constantly drinks cherry Kool-Aid. But you can’t try to learn that, because that would make you a weirdo. This kind of knowledge is like a vivid dream you suddenly pull out of the cosmic ether, eight hours after waking up. If someone asks you when Montana from RW 6: Boston exposed her breasts, you just sort of vaguely recall it was on a boat; if someone asks you who the effeminate black guy from Seattle slapped in the face, you inexplicably know it was the chick with Lyme disease. Yet these are not bits of information you actively acquired; these are things picked up the same way you sussed out how to get around on the subway. or the way you figured out how to properly mix Bloody Marys. One day, you just suddenly realize it’s something you know. And–somehow–there’s a cold logic to it. It’s an extension of your own life, even though you never tried to make it that way.
— Chuck Klosterman, Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs
That’s a lot of us in fandom. It’s how I randomly remember that around the time when All About DBSK 2 released, a news article was written about how Hyori loves Yunho’s body best, and I still remember which scene in their variety show she was referring to. It’s why I have a tag for this. Like why I know of the three dramas I’m watching now — Arang, Faith, To the Beautiful You — Faith gets subbed the slowest, will overlap with the day Arang airs, but Beautiful You gets subbed the fastest, so I can probably watch that before Arang is finished. I want to say that these things are magnified with me because I have an obsessive inclination towards detail and a natural tendency to remember, but I like to think pop culture at large trains us to learn things in a totally invasive (but unintentional) way.