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!
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.