Lessons learned from a boy band

By Kate Leddy

(Eva Rinaldi)
(Eva Rinaldi)

I’ve never been a One Direction fan, but it took barely five minutes after the announcement for me to find out that Zayn Malik was leaving the boy band. Not surprisingly, social media exploded.

It was sort of entertaining, at first, to see one status and tweet after another cursing the universe and begging that it be a bad dream. People immediately began conjuring up memes and making jokes about his leaving – my personal favorite has been a Vine mimicking the ending of America’s Next Top Model as if Zayn got voted off the show – and within a day there were already tons of compilations of reactions to the news, many of them with titles that criticized fans as “insane” or “crazy.”

That’s when it stopped being funny.

One Direction has gained an enormous fan base since its formation in 2010. From London to Hong Kong to L.A., it has die-hard fans all over the world, many of whom have followed the band from the start.

It should be no question that Zayn’s leaving has been genuinely devastating for fans that have made the band a large part of their lives over the past five years.

Having an emotional attachment to something and then watching it get taken away or changed is difficult. Period. If you have feelings about something, those feelings are valid.

It is disgusting to see so many people making fun of fans for being upset, especially when these fans happen to be young, impressionable girls.

Twitter blew up with over-the-top criticisms about everyone’s over-the-top reactions. Sure, you can argue that losing a member of a boy band isn’t a big deal – “There are starving people in Africa,” one could say, “There are much bigger things to worry about,” or “Stop sniveling over a stupid singer!”

But then explain to me why a grown man can cry over a sports team and nobody makes a peep about him acting like a game loss is equivalent to the world collapsing. Meanwhile, a young girl cannot feel upset about One Direction without being attacked.

Our passions are a big deal to us. That’s what makes them passions. We pour our heart and soul into something that makes us feel good. They connect us to others, make us feel that we have a place in this world and bring us happiness.

By making fun of young girls for crying about the band they love, you are not only insinuating that their passions are not valid, but you are perpetuating a terrible double standard at a time when the bullied – and yes, this is bullying – are already at a vulnerable point in their lives.

When the news came out, I thought of some of my friends who had been dedicated fans since the band’s early days and wondered how they were coping. I was glad to see one of them pushing back on Facebook.

“I’ve cried about it,” Olivia Murphy, a sophomore at UMass, said in her status. “Does that make me a sensitive, emotional person? Yeah probably. Does it in any way impact my worth as a person, the validity of my intellect and ideas, or my ability to act as a mature adult when appropriate? No. It doesn’t.”

Being a One Direction fan does not make you some dim-witted person prone to constant fits of hysteria over trivial things, despite common Internet-troll beliefs. If you’re wasting your time putting yourself up on a pedestal to rail on fan’s emotions, you should probably go get yourself a real passion of your own. Perhaps then you will understand that at least it is better to go through life with more things that hold a genuine place in your heart than to experience the majority of it apathetically.

Zayn leaving is not the end of the world; just like the Rangers losing a game isn’t either. Fans get over it. It saddens me to know that a lot of them are probably too young to have Olivia’s mindset, which could make things more difficult. No matter what, though, they will be able to accept this new chapter with the band.

And believe it or not, they can do it without the commentary.

Kate Leddy is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected][liveblog]