Dealing with a different form of loss
As I write this week’s column, I am listening to the soundtrack of millions of young girls and boys around the world: One Direction and all four of their albums. Yes, that’s right, I am ‘one of those’. Shun me now, close the tab, block me on Twitter. Except, I know that you won’t. I know that you’re going to read on because part of what I’ve just told you intrigues you, doesn’t it?
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few days, you’ll know that One Direction lost a member last week. Zayn quit the band and he’s gone for good. There was over 100 suicides in one country alone and the faux tag ‘#cut4zayn’ trending on Twitter. One thing (no pun intended for any fans reading this) I want to clarify is that ‘#cut4zayn’ was trended by 4 Chan- that group of hackers who leaked Jennifer Lawrence and other stars’ nudes to the web. We – the One Direction fandom – did not trend that.
Now, the suicides. Many people have slated all those young people who took their life because of Zayn leaving the band and I can see where that comes from. I understand that just because he left, it appears to be ‘stupid’ because that person took their own life. But, you don’t know their story and their previous history. A lot of One Direction fans suffer from mental illness or feel as though they don’t fit in and, in the ‘fandom’, they do. That is their place to be themselves and to be able to express their creativity, whether it be in writing the dreaded fan-fiction, making fan art, editing videos of the boys or any other kind of creative activity.
This means that those people rely on the fandom and they have been brought to it because of the boys. So, when the boys break apart, so do they. One Direction provide stability and structure to many lives around the world, no matter how ‘pathetic’ or ‘stupid’ it may appear to be to you. And, when you mock someone for committing suicide because Zayn left the band, ask yourself why they were so upset. They were so upset because heartless people like you made them feel so alone and so isolated that they had to rely on the band in the first place.
While suicide is not the most rational or common reaction to Malik’s departure, tears and sadness are. Myself included. So many people in school and outside of it deliberately tear into fans as soon as they feel they have a valid reason to do so. You don’t. Zayn leaving affects their life because One Direction are their life. One Direction were there (I hate to say this, but it’s true) when you weren’t.
When Zayn quit the band, it hurt. It hurt because all of us, million upon millions of us, care. It is a form of loss and that’s because fans are so close and connected to One Direction. Just in the same way you are to a pet or to a game, or a football team. What fans need is support and understanding, not hate and mocking.
See you next week.
If you or a friend are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact Samaritans on this number: 08457 90 90 90