The Fangirl Phenomena: Unhealthy obsessions or just teenage infatuations?

Fangirl groups seem to be taking over the world. Jenna Hodgins questions the sanity of their behaviour and discusses the actions of certain fangroups…

Several examples of fangirl tweets: is the world going mad?

Several examples of fangirl tweets: is the world going mad?

The Oxford Dictionary explains the terms ‘fangirl’ and ‘fanboy’ as “a female/male fan, especially one who is obsessive about comics, film, music, or science fiction”.

Although, it may be a fair and accurate definition, I can’t help but feel that it fails to encapsulate the sheer insanity of some, if not many of these fan boys and girls.

Sooo… I searched the ever-so-reliable Urban Dictionary and found a more fitting characterization;  “a rabid breed of human female who is obsessed with either a fictional character or an actor. Similar to the breed of fanboy”.

Despite the highly offensive animal comparison, Urban Dictionary has hit the nail right on the head describing this new headline-making ‘breed’ of fanatic.

Approximately two weeks ago, a young woman using the Twitter handler @illumivato, was reported tweeting One Direction band members the following tweet: “FOLLOW ME OR I’LL BREAK MY DOG’S NECK”. The tweet was accompanied by a photo of, allegedly, her hand around a small dog’s neck.

After a few days her tweet remained unanswered, however, @illumivato continued her venture of getting a ‘follow back’ from the boy band. Yes, it gets worse. The girl tweeted another picture, this time of herself and what appears to be the same dog lying lifeless in her arms. The post included a message directed to band member, Liam Payne; “I love you. Follow me. My dog has just died.”

Thankfully, the young woman didn’t kill her pet pooch, as later discovered by MailOnline. The second picture had been posted a few months previous to the incident.

Consequently, the user account has been suspended from Twitter.

This still doesn’t justify the fact some crazy ‘Directioner’ felt the need to glorify, in a sense, animal cruelty to get followed by a boy band on Twitter. There really is only one direction for her and its heading straight towards Broadmoor.

This isn’t the first reported incident of extreme ‘fan-girling’. Similar stories of threats to blend their pet – yes blend their pet in a food blender – if they aren’t followed on Twitter by their beloved celeb, have been circulating the internet with pictures of said pet in blender.

We can actually go back to 1980 and meet the pioneer of crazy fanboys and girls – Mark David Chapman – John Lennon’s killer. Poor Lenno shook Chapman’s hand, signed his CD and five hours later John-boy has a .38 pointed at him.

Fast forward to 2013 and we have online Twitter and Facebook campaigns like #cutforbieber, where Justin Bieber fans tweeted pictures of their slashed wrists in a bid to stop Biebs smoking cannabis. In this case, internet trolls started the trending hoax which was followed by unknowing Bieliebers copying the fake pictures of ketchup-bleeding wrists.

Which raises the questions: are these fan-loonies just victims? Are these young men and women suffering from genuine obsessive disorders or some new mental phenomena?

Channel 4 recently aired a documentary specifically about One Direction fanatics showcasing the more innocent fan fantasies alongside the strange, sometimes sadistic, attitudes of fans.

Participants in the documentary had their bedrooms decorated in band merchandise, some with photos of the band members’ cousins, which is sort of cute. Sort of.

One “Directioner” (no pun intended) got braces because  Niall Horan had them. I know, it’s a little mad but at least she will have great teeth and regular lectures on dental hygiene from her orthodontist.

Fangirling can be harmless, still a little creepy but nevertheless it’s not always hurting someone.

On one hand, there’s a community born from all the madness and wall posters, where people can make friends with common interests (sometimes obsessions) and know they’re not alone in the world – an idea and issue that teenagers often struggle with.

On the other hand, there are threats sent to love interests, family members and the social circle surrounding the adored celebrity. There are displays of animal cruelty and self-harm, stalking, troubles and lives being consumed by social networking giants and tabloids.

Where did the line between fandom and Mark Chapman go? It ran away with dial-up connections.

“Twitter is like a praying place, if you like, when you go to a praying place, you feel like you’re connected to God. So, when you’re on Twitter you feel like you’re connected to 1D,” was a genuine quote from a One Direction fan girl.

When misused, the internet is the vehicle that drives people across that line. Want to know who Harry Styles is supposedly kissing? Twitter. Want to know where Justin Bieber is staying tonight? He just posted a status with his GPS location on Facebook. Rihanna has just instagrammed her new hairstyle – within minutes it’s printed out and brought along to a hairdressers.

Is the internet and its Twitterverse to blame for all these… twits? Until the day scientists find some genetic mutation like the fan girl gene, the debate is open.

So, unhealthy obsession or just teenage infatuation? What’s your opinion? Comment below with answers.

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