You see that girl walking down the street? The one wearing the Justin Bieber shirt, carrying the Justin Bieber backpack, with the Justin Bieber buttons on it? The one whose Twitter handle is @MrsJustinBieber12345? She is what would commonly be referred to as a "fangirl." She is one of a species that belongs to a class; a class of young people who are utterly obsessed, and utterly "can't even."
No, this phenomenon isn't THAT new. I know of the 2000s Jonas Brothers fans (don't tell anyone, I may have been one in a past life), and I've heard the ancient tales of what was once called 'NSYNC, but honestly, since then, fangirling has gotten meaner.
Fangirls, at times, can be vicious; like the tributes from the wealthy districts in The Hunger Games. Basically, if you like the same thing as some fangirls, and you're not utterly obsessed with that thing, you're not even Katniss Everdeen. You'd be one of the tributes who get killed off right away. For example, if you like a band because you know a few songs by them, that's fine and dandy. But you don't know their drummer's middle name? Boom, you're done. What do you mean you don't have a blog devoted to them?! Boom, you're done. Your cat isn't named after their ex-bassist? You're out of luck and subject to humiliation by the whole "fandom." The world of the modern fangirl is cutthroat.
What I'm getting at is this. It just makes me sad that fans try to own the thing they like. If you really cared about the band or show you like, wouldn't you want them to have more fans, so they can have more success? Just because you know your favorite singer's first childhood pet's name, does not mean that he will marry you. People who like the same things should support each other and encourage each other instead of competing over who likes it best. There's no prize for knowing the most random facts about Mean Girls (If there was, I would win -- just saying). You don't get a walk-on role for knowing every line of every episode of American Horror Story. Some people just like to like things, and they shouldn't be persecuted for not having socks with that thing printed on it.
I think the fact that last year "#cutforBieber" was an actual thing sums up the bigger problem with obsessive fangirling. Though it appears to have been a Twitter hoax, it still makes me worry. This is America's future, and we are teaching them that people can be put on a pedestal to the point where they are not humans, but gods. Being a fan of something is beautiful, and wonderful, and loving things is lovely; but is there not a limit? When does it go too far?
I'm not trying to put down the fangirl/fanboy community at all. I think they're fostering a new level of knowledge and some of them are freaky-good at making Tumblr GIF sets. I just think people who enjoy putting other people down for not knowing about something as deeply as they do need to take a look in the mirror, even if that mirror is plastered in stickers of that thing. We're all humans, and we all "can't even" at different things, and to different extents.
Follow Eden Friedman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/edenfriedmannn