A Dangerous Breed of Superfan?

When we were 14, I bet we were all obsessed with something. For me, it was One Direction. I really got into them when they released their debut album ‘Up All Night’ and then went and saw them in concert, decorated my bedroom with glossy posters of their little hairless faces and drove my dad crazy chirping on about them 24/7 – as my dad is a self-confessed music snob. But if any of them had been accused of something awful and unlawful, I had a good judgement of right and wrong. If a member of One Direction had committed a felony, I wouldn’t have stood by them. I never went and had a look at what haters were saying on Twitter just so I could send them abuse.

However, I’ve noticed with super-fans of certain bands and Youtubers these days that some young girls (mainly between the ages of 11-14) seem to take ‘stanning their fave’ a little too seriously. And I believe that it’s really dangerous.

I first noticed this around the Zoella Advent Calendar debacle of December 2017. I tweeted about the situation and suddenly had a pile on of tween fans telling me to die. It happened again when I tweeted about the Alfie Deyes £1 challenge. And now, it’s happened again with the Ingham Family and their precious ‘IFAM’ – but in a completely different way.

Last night (2nd July 2018), a girl named Jess, 16, (@dodieftbecky) tweeted out a series of iPhone note pages explaining the story of what happened when she met Chris Ingham, of popular YouTube family ‘The Ingham Family’ last year in Disneyworld, a place frequented by the Inghams. She claims that she saw that the Inghams were going to Florida at the same time as her and also staying in the same hotel – believed to be Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – and so messaged Chris and asked to meet up as her and her sister were a huge fan of the Inghams. The Inghams met Jess’ whole family at their hotel that night, but when Chris posted about it on social media, he only mentioned that he’d met Jess. Jess also went on to tweet a series of screenshots and screen recordings of messages that Chris had sent her on Twitter that were extremely inappropriate – asking to meet up at 2am, if she was home alone and even some mention of skinny dipping.

I’m not here to comment on whether or not I think Jess was lying, but I do think all allegations like this should be taken seriously until they’re proven wrong by law enforcement. However, the ‘IFAM’ – the term given for hardcore fans of the Ingham Family, who only last week hit 1 million subscribers – seem to have a different take on this. As I scrolled the replies of Jess’ allegation, many were people expressing their support for how brave Jess was for speaking out about this.

But a lot were tweets from the IFAM, calling Jess names and calling her out for photoshopping these messages – or even suggesting Chris might have been hacked.

In a tweet, one girl who in her bio claims to be 13, stated that these messages could not be Chris because she DMs him all the time and he’s not creepy to her. Does she not see that the fact that Chris, a 30-year-old husband and father of 2 (stepfather to 1) is DMing her at all? What would her mother say if she knew that her daughter was spending her nights messaging a man who’s intentions may not be 100% pure. But, I digress.

“Come on, Chloe! They’re only young! Don’t be so hard on them!”

I still believe at 12 years old you have a sense of right and wrong. You know that grooming someone is wrong behaviour and allegations needed to be taken seriously and I bet you if it was anyone else that had been accused of this behaviour – or anyone else with a £50 advent calendar or living off £1 a day for a challenge – that these girls would 100% not be on their side, but because it’s their ‘faves’ who have been accused, they genuinely can’t see them as doing any wrong and are completely and utterly deluded and blinded by obsession for these people and that is what’s scary to me.

Even after Alfie Deyes admitted to the internet that he’d made a mistake, many of his fans were telling him he shouldn’t have to apologise for it and that he did nothing wrong. EVEN AFTER HE ADMITTED HE WAS WRONG. If you check out some of these ‘superfan’s’ Twitter accounts, all they do is retweet their idols, tweet their idols or tweet other people who have said negative things about their idols. Their twitter pages offer no individuality, no other interests, no personality other than their display names. It’s almost like, without knowing, these Youtubers have curated an audience of mindless bots with one program and one program only: defend, defend, defend!

Sarah Ingham, wife of Chris, poses for a clickbait thumbnail.

In the instance of the Alfie Deyes situation and the Chris Ingham debacle, a lot of these girls completely undermine incredibly serious issues. One girl during the Alfie Deyes £1 drama tweeted me back saying “it’s not that deep”. When I calmly explained to her how for many people living on £1 is a reality and the severity of poverty in this country, she ranted and raved about how I was a “bully” (a common insults for these Subsciber-Bots).

Accusation of potential sexual interest in a minor is extremely important and not an issue to be taken lightly, but again these IFAM completely ignore this. When I tweeted about this last night, @SarahAurorax tweeted me saying “it’s so dangerous to dismiss these people who are coming forward as it must be so difficult for them and it’s not helping other people who are thinking to step forward about what happened to them” and I couldn’t agree with her point more. The issue of the IFAM attacking people who say anything negative about the Ingham Family in such a rude and brutal way might mean that others are too scared to come forward in fear of being so nastily attacked.

I guess this obsession comes from social media. When I was 11, I didn’t even have a Facebook page, let alone Twitter or Instagram. My parents closely monitored my activity online (it was mostly Club Penguin, ToonTown and MaraPets) and even when I did become more active on Twitter as a One Direction Fan back in 2012, I don’t remember getting into any disagreements with people to the extent that these ‘stans’ fight each other today. Social media brings out the worst in people; they become keyboard warriors. I really believe these kids would never say anything like this to someone’s face at school but the anonymity of the internet and the genuine belief that the people they look up to are divine, celestial beings incapable of wrong really brings out the complete worst in them. And that’s why it’s I believe this ‘stan mentality’ is completely dangerous.

To me, this behaviour is not normal. It’s honestly completely baffling. Refusal to see that someone has done something wrong and blindly attacking anyone who states otherwise is almost cult-like behaviour and I really don’t think if the parents of these children knew what their sons and daughters were saying online, they’d be overly comfortable.

12 Comments

  1. July 3, 2018 / 12:44 pm

    I completely agree with everything! There’s obviously nothing wrong with having an idol and being really invested in them, but it’s so important to not just take everything they say for granted and accept everything they do even if it was a felony or extremely hurtful. Children now have a lot to learn on that matter and I hope they do soon because I agree with you, it is definitely dangerous

    Sarah
    http://www.sarahaurorax.com

    ps. thanks for the mention 😉

  2. July 3, 2018 / 1:22 pm

    Totally agree with you. I know that the majority of these people are just kids, but as you said, at twelve I knew right from wrong and definitely wouldn’t defend someone I was a fan of for doing wrong! Kids nowadays are very easily swayed by these big internet personalities and it’s honestly worrying that a man in his 30s wants to message someone 17 years younger than him! Brilliant post.

  3. July 3, 2018 / 2:55 pm

    Yes Chloe!!! So well said!!!! I 100% agree with you here on everything! These superfans can be so blinded by love for their idols that even if they were convicted of sexual assualt/intimidation/rape even they would fight for their innocence all damn day! That is so so wrong. I only hope these girls understand what is so wrong here before it’s too late. 💕💕

  4. July 3, 2018 / 5:20 pm

    This is so well written Chloe! The internet is a scary place and I completely agree with everything you’ve said! I was also an avid One Direction fan and I used to follow them all on Twitter. However I never got myself into a situation where I was defending things they may have done that was wrong and started abusing other people online.
    I think one of the things that’s most concerning though is 12/13 year old girls thinking it’s ‘normal’ to DM a 30 year old man!

  5. Anonymous
    July 3, 2018 / 7:32 pm

    Should you have maybe consider messaging me about if you could use what I tweeted? 🙄

  6. sandra
    July 6, 2018 / 4:45 am

    I don’t know about your country but in mine you are innocent until PROVEN guilty! You are clearly favoring one side before knowing all of the facts. Many 16 girls will lie through there teeth for attention. I noticed the girl in question was heavily celebrating reaching 20,000 followers due to all the publicity. If this girl is telling the truth then regardless she is as selfish as they come. She is destroying the lives of many people and acting like it is nothing! This was so calculated by releasing this info right after the family’s 1,000,000 milestone so regardless if it is true or not she is using this for FAME and that is disgusting……period!

    • Fed up of Ingham falsity
      July 17, 2018 / 10:22 am

      Wrong, she was celebrating her FRIEND getting 20,000 followers, not herself. If you’d actually bothered your arse to look into this in more depth than blindly idolising the Inghams you’d have seen that. And now there have been an additional 4 or 5 girls that have come out with similar stories AND EVIDENCE.

      And if it destroys the family, then Chris brought this on himself. The fact they continue to vlog and act like nothing has happened shows they value the money they rake in from Youtube more than protecting their daughters. They have no shame. The best thing they could do is pull away from Youtube altogether and give those girls a normal upbringing rather than having their face in a camera constantly. They are a disgrace.

  7. July 6, 2018 / 7:29 pm

    Honestly I’m a few years older than you and I’ve seen it all unfold on the internet. From 1D to youtube stans. It’s crazy how obsessed some people can be from their favourites and think that they’re god’s gift and do no wrong. It’s heartbreaking in a way that they’re that brainwashed about thinking what they see is the full 100% and that everything else is wrong. The whole Ingham family situation is serious. Whether it’s true or not, what worries me is that there are girls coming out about talking to him like it’s normal for a minor. It’s not. I’ve had a past of troubles from adults taking advantage of me and they don’t see the games they play. I feel so sorry for Jess. For what’s happened, and the backlash of her trying to help others in the process.

  8. Molly
    July 7, 2018 / 11:46 am

    What gets me in all this is they havent come out to prove to everyone that he is not a teen groomer, I want to know my children are safe watching them! I want them to prove to me that my teen is safe to watch and follow them without the fear that he may like what he sees and contacts and starts grooming my child!

  9. Patricia
    July 9, 2018 / 7:19 am

    When I saw this event I wondered, why didn’t she tell her parents? Why didn’t they then tell the police? Why did she first announce it in tweeter? Where are her parents now? It would seem the Ingham family has consulted legal advice. It’s sad which ever is true of the 2 sides.

  10. Mrs T
    July 11, 2018 / 10:09 am

    When I was 6 I loved a certain guy in a tinfoil suit on TOTP (look how that turned out) and being somewhat bedbound this last lot of months turned to utube and came across the Inghams as well as Family fizz etc and really enjoyed seeing how other folk live and subscribed, now there have been accusations,granted, but nothing proven yet , a lot of vloggers have jumped on the bandwagon , its true,its true ,, ok maybe it is but a lot of questions have been raised regarding the girl in question,with some very valid points ie wheres her parents,why wait till now etc ok shes a kid ,is it true or five minutes of fame,,,do we know she exists or clever hoax,,,the truth will out and if guilty he will be tossed aside like tinfoil suit man, I dont fall into the kiddie 11 to 14 age bracket Im a 52 year old ! X

    • Fed up of Ingham falseness
      July 17, 2018 / 10:24 am

      her mum has been on Twitter in the last few days verifying that she is aware of it all, and they have gone to the police with the evidence

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