June 16, 2014

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Heart racing, palms sweating, anxiety running, tears streaming, anger raging, love overflowing. This all-consuming lifestyle has kidnapped teenage girls and kept them hostage since “The Fandom” was first cultivated. Times have greatly changed since The Beatles had insane fans at their beck and call, yet the central goal of every Fandom has not changed. To meet the idol.

If you don’t know what a fangirl is, chances are you’ve never experienced Fangirls first hand. These persistent, attached, and crazed flock, mostly consisting of girls, live just about anywhere you can imagine. So, what is a Fangirl? Ask any girl now-a-days and you’ll get an array of answers varying from, “some freak show girls who stalk celebrities,” to, “a girl who is overly dedicated to a celebrity, musician, TV show, or movie and spends a lot of time talking about it via social media.” Both definitions are true to a certain extent. Fangirling has become just as stressful for some girls as taking semester exams or sending in college applications is for others.

Fangirling differs for many girls due to age range and how obsessed–and/or dedicated–one is to their idol. Changing plans with friends and staying home during newly released music is not a rare occurrence for most. A lot of girls view their Fandom as family, and they’d rather stay hidden behind a Twitter handle and make friends online than go out and feel uncomfortable in their own skin. Sadly, many girls become attached to celebrities due to depression and anxiety, claiming the celebrity is the only thing keeping them alive. This puts an infinite amount of pressure upon the idol. Celebrities have this intangible power to immediately enhance the mood of thousands of girls by tweeting once or twice a day. Fandoms are single handily keeping girls in their own cocoon, secluded from the real world and real teenage problems.

The truth is, without Fandoms, the amount of social media users would plummet. Different worlds, almost like different universes, have been established on social media outlets like Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. “Twitter is the only way you can really stay connected. Without twitter, you have nothing,” said 16-year-old Rhyan, Fangirl of four years. With over 11 thousand followers, Rhyan has a responsibly on a daily basis to keep up with her Twitter account and be an active member in the Fandom known as “Beliebers.” Keeping constant tabs on The Biebs keeps her follower count steady and growing. Engaging in Twitter conversation about Justin’s music, his extremely toned physique, the newly updated fanfiction, and his oh-so-adorable laugh, only digs the obsession deeper and deeper.

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This being said, Fangirls are completely taking over. These girls are pros at every aspect of social media, photoshop, HTML, and social networking. Also, let’s not forget that their fan radar, a.k.a. finding the whereabouts of their idol any time of any day, is almost as keen as the FBI. Fangirls are the true queens of social media. Comprehending things from Tweet Deck to queuing posts on Tumblr, their accounts are practically running 25/8. Not only do they have the Internet mastered, but Fangirls are finding their inner passions through Fangirling, too. More now than ever, girls are writing, reading, and standing up for what they believe in. Fanfiction numbering over 100,000 words has girls intrigued and glued to these page-turners. Finding leadership roles in a Fandom is teaching girls life lessons on how to stand up for oneself.

Fangirls are truly becoming a fearless clan that will do whatever it takes to meet their idol. Connecting with other Fangirls from overseas is making the world of Fangirling more and more intimate, creating the criteria of joining a Fandom more difficult. Measuring a girl’s love for a celebrity is made up of the amount you know about the idol, the amount of merchandise you own, and the number of followers you’ve retained. Most of all, though, the amount of time you’ve spent dedicating yourself to a human being who doesn’t know you exist is the most important and proud material for being a real Fangirl. Respect is automatically gained if you’ve been a fan since 2009 rather than 2011. This is so important that girls lie about the time their obsession began.

It’s a hardcore lifestyle. Stalking, tweeting, reposting, updating and pure dedication to that one celebrity hundreds and thousands of other girls are also obsessing over. Now that this life is so accessible, if one endeavors to experience teenage life outside of the Internet, their Internet life is still at the touch of a button. There is no escape from the demanding life of a fangirl and major friendships and family connections can be lost because if it. So, is Fangirling a bad thing? Do the positives outweigh the negatives? Should the idol be fully responsible for girls that would cross the universe for them? Apparently, the answer lies within the Fangirl herself.

– Sophie Pipitone (@sophiepipitone)


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