The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Rethinking the fan girl

Yeah, Nick Jonas was pretty average in the end, but being part of a fandom is about so much more, says Natalie Silver.

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The craze around boybands has been around for decades now. From NSYNC to the Jonas Brothers, and more recently, One Direction, teenage girls have a history of being obsessed with groups of pretty guys and their music.

Many, including myself, can remember covering every inch of wall space with posters, shrieking at concerts, playing favourite songs on loop, and fantasizing endlessly about their teen idol.

My idols were the Jonas Brothers. I spent hundreds of pounds on concert tickets and merchandise, and can remember many hours spent waiting outside of the hotels where they were staying, just to catch a glimpse of a face.

Many have a snobbish attitude towards band fanaticism, but they simply don’t understand what they haven’t been a part of. Being in a fandom gives you access to some great friendships, formed through mutual obsessions. I’m from New York City, and would see the same people outside of the Jonas Brothers’ hotels, and sleeping overnight on the sidewalk for free shows like Good Morning America. Over time these people became my friends. Now, social media websites have created massive communities of fans, regardless of location.

Fans of groups meet each other through Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. Some girls I know have met their best friends through a mutual passion for a band. Fandom is a serious commitment that allows people to escape from their ‘real’ lives. Being in a fandom involves stalking where a band is, checking multiple websites for new photos of the band and its members, planning meet-ups with other fans in the place the band is, and obsessively tweeting the band, in hopes of being followed, receiving a reply or (hold your breath) getting retweeted.

This may seem unhealthy, but for a lot of people, their role in the fandom can be their greatest source of joy each day. Genuine friendships form through mutual support of a band—people may spend a lot of time talking about the band, but they also spend time getting to know and supporting each other.

Some may argue that these girls should focus on making friends at their school rather than online and shouldn’t get their hopes up about dating a boy that they might not even ever meet. However, not everyone is able to make friends so easily and with time, girls grow out of dreaming of the day Harry Styles starts DMing then on Twitter.

Although I spent countless hours trying to meet Nick Jonas to no avail, I ultimately met him by accident, running into him on the street. He was quiet, and let me take a picture with him, and all of the things I dreamed of saying to him for years didn’t really matter. He wasn’t a god in that moment, just another guy on a New York street.

After meeting him, I thought about all the time I spent idolising a pretty normal guy, no better than myself. I decided though that it wasn’t a waste, because ultimately Nick Jonas was only a reason to meet-up, like coffee or birthday celebrations.  What mattered was how close I became to fellow fans, and how those friendships have lasted long after the Jonas Brothers were ripped from my walls.

Now, I am happy and embarrassingly a bit envious of the girls tweeting and posting on Tumblr about how much they love One Direction, 5 Seconds of Summer and the like, because I know they are part of a positive community with the amazing opportunity to make new connections.