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Diary of a Fangirl: The Power of the Internet and Loving What You Love

I don’t care how fangirling at people LOOKS to the outside world. I do it because I want someone to know I like it.

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The following piece was originally posted on Girl Lost in the City under the title “Diary of a Fangirl.” It has been republished here with permission.

“Fangirls” often get a bad name, don’t they? They scream a lot. They’re “dramatic”. They’re obsessive. They like YouTubers and One Direction. They love posters and blu tac. The actual dictionary definition is “a female fan, especially one who is obsessive about comics, film, music, or science fiction.”

But all boiled down, what does this really mean? a female human [or anyone who identifies as a fangirl] who is often really madly into something (usually cultural or artistic) and isn’t afraid to show it.

I am fan girl.

If I like something, or someone, I will tell them a million times how much I love it. I will go up to them at a party and say I like it, I will Instagram a copy of their book with lots of heart emojis. I will tell all my friends to buy their thing. I will tweet them compliments. I fangirl at my friends and I fangirl at random strangers.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but this piece on the Telegraph entitled “fangirling your heroes in cheap and childish” rubbed me up the wrong way. I really really like the author of the piece’s work, so it’s nothing personal. It just made me reflect on the term “fangirl” and gave me some fodder for a blog post, and that’s always a good thing!

On reflection and after reading this article, I realized I don’t care the stereotypes that comes with being a so-called fangirl. I get really obsessed with things I like. I play songs on repeat for months. I still rip out articles and stick them in a diary. I order five books by the same author all at once. I stalk people on social media who I admire. I write long emails to people to tell them how their movie had an effect on me. I get really into people, things, culture, art, writing, books, paintings, places.

A few months ago I found a book from the seventies in an old library and wrote a very “fangirl” blog post about how much I liked it. The author, who is now in her 80s found my blog and email address and sent me an email. She said that her book was printed by a really obscure press and only a few copies were made. She said we must be kindred spirits. I cried, which I know is weird but I felt like this was the magic of the Internet. An elderly lady in America found me and told me about her life. This what I’ve always loved about having a blog. It connects me to people naturally. It attracts my sort of people. I could tell that the fact I had enjoyed her book really meant a lot to her. We carried on emailing, and she usually emailed me quickly while explaining she’d had to go, because she needed to take her sick husband to hospital for check-ups. It would really lift my mood hearing from her, my new friend, someone on the other side of the world, whose brilliant book taught me a lot of new things. The “fangirling” turned into having a new penpal. It was a simple way to connect. Back to basics.

I don’t care how fangirling at people LOOKS to the outside world. I do it because I want someone to know I like it. Sometimes it’ll be a public shout-out, sometimes private, usually both. In a nutshell: I want just want that person to know they have a new fan.

It’s probably worth mentioning that I am quite picky with what I fangirl at. I don’t go around absolutely loving everything and everyone – quite the opposite. I don’t think the term should be palmed off as being just a “teenage trait” of being really “into” stuff. To me it’s just part of having the type of personality that gets really inspired by their surroundings. I don’t ever want to change that for the fear of seeming childish. I don’t want to hold back any excitement over the things that make me happy.

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The article argues that “before Twitter, regular people would usually only offer such praise if they really meant it – mainly because finding someone’s email address or writing them a letter took a lot more effort.” There’s definitely a truth in that – instead of a quick “OMG I LOVE YOUR BLOG POST” you could instead email that person and say “dear xx, your blog post was truly inspiring because etc….” But, social networking has made it easier to drop someone a little note to say: I like what you’re doing. It’s important to tell people when you like their stuff. It builds confidence. Everyone likes a little boost. Everyone appreciates a compliment. We all know that someone saying: “you look great today” automatically means you WILL have a better day. Sending a tweet is easier than an email. I don’t think it’s “laziness” I think it’s the fact that we are able to do it in between odd jobs at work or on the commute home, it’s making it less of a task to sit down and write people lots of emails full of praise. We shouldn’t feel ashamed or silly for sending a nice message, especially as the Internet has very dark corners to it. I think sending the odd tweet to tell someone you’re a fan is one of the most redeeming qualities of social networking these days.

Over and out,

FROM A BIG INTERNET FAN GIRL.
XOOX

You can read more of Emma Gannon’s work on her blog, Girl Lost in the City, and find her on Twitter.

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