Twitter was ablaze last night with disparaging comments about a group of young girls, known collectively as ‘Directioners’ – the fans of the group One Direction.
The reason for the discussion was a report about a group of Directioners, who were interviewed and followed by a camera team from Channel 4, as the journalists attempted to find out - Why are these girls Crazy About One Direction?
Directioners have a fierce reputation, and have recently been featured in GQ, who wrote about the Most Terrifying Responses to our One Direction Covers. GQ had revealed their new covers, which included quotes from 1D, which some Directioners objected strongly to.
Abusive tweets such as “DO YOU REALIZE HOW MANY PEOPLE WANT TO CASTRATE THE PEOPLE WHO WORK FOR THIS SHITTY MAGAZINE,” poured in, and the GQ website crashed as irate Directioners around the world clicked and raged.
I have to admit that it made me quite uncomfortable. There was no attempt made to conceal the identity of the users, which seems cruel when you consider that we are talking about girls in their mid to late teens. I had a look at the tweets of one of the girls named and she tweeted this in the aftermath, at first to GQ and then general tweets to her timeline
@BritishGQ MY TWEET WASNT EVEN TO YOU WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT EXTREME THREAT IT WAS TO SOME GIRL OKAY I WOULD NEVER HURT ANYONE
YOUR FUCKING MAKING ME LOOK REALLY MEAN AND HORRIBLE BUT I WAS JUST ANGRY AND NOW YOU DONT KNOW HOW HORRIFIED I AM
I wasn’t even talking to you. do you know how bad it makes me feel that you think I was. I would never actually do anything
I hate myself so much for what I said, ok
you still cant force harry into saying personal things though
do you even know how much I hate myself you’ve made me out to be a monster it wasnt even to you ik that doesnt change anything
im sorry but i wasn’t threatening you. im fucking shaking and i just wish i never said it just please dont speak bad about our boys
[harry] is just my sunshine he makes me so happy im useless
Her account has since been deleted.
The Channel 4 documentary didn’t really do much to repair that reputation, nor did the subsequent outpouring of grief and anger, as the watching fans tweeted #thisisnotus. As a typical ridiculous Twitter rumour of a mass Directioners suicide bid went around, others more tweeted,
“Shame on Channel 4 in the UK airing #CrazyAboutOneDirection and showing Directioners in a negative light to troll for ratings. #ThisIsNotUs,” said one fan.
Another user posted: “Channel 4 showed the 1% of the fanbase and forgot to include the 99% of directioners who are actually the nicest people ever.”
The media is quite happy to ridicule and shame these girls, with no thought to the fact that they have to go into school tomorrow and face the classmates who have watched the documentary or read the newspaper article.
One thing that occurred to me was that the girls felt a sense of belonging as a Directioner. Seventeen year old Natasha spoke of having to care for her mother, who is disabled, and her young brother,
‘When you feel shy and scared, if you divert your mind to One Direction, it makes you feel happy inside. You are in a One Direction shell, with noone around but you’
Earlier in the program, she had talked about how listening to the songs had boosted her self confidence,
‘I didn’t really think of myself of myself as being beautiful, but when I heard the song, it made me feel good about myself…
I love Zayn … He is from an Asian background like me, and I know how complicated it is, you kind of have an identity crisis, but when you are a Directioner.. you have all these other girls like you.. and you are like part of this gang, I am normal’.
The band a few slightly scary fans, and I agree with Grace Dent that at 19 years old, Becky should know better. When I was that age, I moved to Germany to work as an aupair, and met and fell in love with the man I would marry five years later. Becky visits the homes of Harry’s parents and is quite unmoved that they are (understandably) not keen on their son’s stalkers.
It was not explained what the parents of the girls thought of the obsessive behaviour of their daughters. I can’t imagine my parents would have been happy to fund me running off to stay in hotels, and visit the homes of A-ha members when I was 15 or 16 years old.
When I asked on Twitter yesterday about the former hearthrobs of my Twitter followers, there was a consensus that we were very lucky to have been teens in a time without the internet. For all the advantages it brings, at least we don’t have photos and screenshots of our madness popping back up into our Facebook and Twitter timelines. Were we not as bad as the One Direction, or simply less connected?
I think the latter. The first boy band, The Beatles had to hide from their screaming fans, but they weren’t being tracked via GPS and the Twitter feeds of their friends and family. One Direction is the first Twitter band. Their fans are connected to them, like no other band that has gone before.
A good friend on Twitter, @macdog73 commented earlier today, ‘Fans have a ‘direct line’ now, easier to feel a part of Idol life‘ and @woodo79 tweeted, ‘the Internet acts as an amplifier to visibility‘.
So what is the answer? Well, we could start by not identifying young girls in the media and on Social Media as targets of ridicule. Some of these girls were already vulnerable, and being singled out like this is akin to bullying.
We should also understand that the girls are looking to belong, as many of us were at their age. I was a Venture Scout at that age, and they were my ‘clan’. These girls find strength in belonging to a group of One Direction fans.
The songs such as What Makes You Beautiful and Little Things make the girls feel better about themselves for a moment. We should let them have this moment.