I get it but I don’t… – Social Media and Teen Idols

Today, whilst browsing Twitter, I came across an article from the Guardian that someone had retweeted and praised, regarding the boy band One Direction – a pop music phenomena that I know almost nothing about beyond that one song everyone covers on YouTube and they’re on TV a lot. I have no particular feelings towards or against them or their brand of music, they belong to a younger age group.

The interview with the band is in itself an interesting view on how modern pop musicians manage fame, and the reviewer’s observations are quite saddening (especially since he’s undoubtedly right – I remember plenty of boy bands that outgrew their fans, music and fell apart) but the part of the article that really struck me was the writer’s interviews with One Direction’s fans. Teenaged girls who not only collect memorabilia, magazine articles etc. as teenage but also use social media to communicate with – or perhaps harass is a better word – the bandmembers in order to feel closer to them, and to prove their worth as a fan over other fans by possibly getting a reply.

Many of the blog posts I’ve written on online culture have been based off personal knowledge, back as far as when this was still a university project. I’ve been a part of forums and other online communities ever since my family first got broadband. But this is something I missed out on.
I certainly remember the teen obsession with this or that band or singer (I’m listening to My Chemical Romance as I’m writing this to try and bring back memories of that mindset… no other reason…) I remember cutting out magazine pictures to decorate schoolwork folders, and consoling crying friends when Gerard Way got married. Even then, I remember reports that people were using Myspace to abuse his wife.

But mostly, the filter of traditional media was there, and the idea of such close contact with idols was unknown to me.

It’s not the first time I’ve found myself looking at online culture from the outside, but it’s an increasing trend as so many internet users are that much younger than me. I occupied a different online generation, one that straddled the gap between nineties usenet groups and IRC chat, with it’s basic text and lengthy loading, and the modern, instant mashup of medias we have now. Viewing One Direction fans behaviour is an odd experience because they use social media in a way that I never would, but a way that I might have if I were fifteen now. I get it, but I don’t get it!