Being an obsessive fangirl is not cute, and I didn’t learn that until I stopped being one.
If you haven’t heard yet, a series released to the public called Swarm focuses on a black girl who is an obsessive fangirl. While the series is a satire on what we call stan culture and fandoms, it has recently been on my mind. I have been thinking so much about it because it affects so many people, but mainly because it affected me for a long. I am honestly embarrassed by my obsessive fangirl phase, as I cringe every so often when I think of it, but finally, starting to wince at myself helped me develop into who I am today. I would have most likely never thought my behavior was unacceptable until I got it together, along with piecing together that my childhood trauma contributed to that. While Swarm is exaggerated, it’s scary because I can not help but wonder how rude I might have turned into if I did not get my act together. Swarm ain’t perfect, but it did have me pondering about life.
In the summer of 2019, I slowly began to emerge from my obsessive fangirl phase for five reasons. One, my favorite celebrity, whom I had been a big fan of since I was twelve (Cameron Boyce), died. Two, I worked as an extra on a television series with an actor I admired; I was disgusted to see how rude they were. Three, I learned that many celebrities are not lovely people from my coworkers who had terrible encounters with them. Four, I concluded that how someone looks affects if someone becomes a fan more than their talents. Five, I found out that people would keep track of what state/country they were in to know what time it was for them. On the one hand, I had the parasocial relationship that helped me through my darkest moments in middle and high school; on the other hand, I idolized those unaware of my existence and how shallow gripping people could be.
So much of my time was wasted being obsessed with celebrities. Every so often, I found a new one too fond over and then one to say nasty things about. It became a daily thing for me to check their Instagram pages to see if they posted or their Twitter to see if they tweeted. Do you know how you move on to another when bored with one show? Society (and I used to) does that often with celebrities. Once they become jaded about someone, they go to another to admire and bother. There’s a reason why most popular fanfictions on Wattpad are about celebrities; it is pretty common in our society to have an unhealthy obsession with a public figure to the point where you read made-up stories about them written by another person. Fake stories had done it before fanfiction became popular; people made up lies about famous people and spread them around. Celebrity news gets more attention than other issues going on within our world. Videos on YouTube about those in the public eye tend to get the most attention. Many people thrive off speaking negatively about people they do not know regarding the lives of the rich and famous.
I didn’t like what stan culture and fandom turned me into. Instead of focusing on my life and well-being, I invested my time in someone else’s life while talking badly about celebrities I disliked. Maturity has taught me that talking badly about people you do not know is not good. I have always hated when people would take pictures of people they do not know without their consent and post them online for them and others to talk badly about them. Now, what’s so different from calling a random person you saw in the grocery store ugly vs. calling a famous person ugly? There isn’t one. A celebrity is still a person you don’t know; speaking negatively about their appearance is not much different.
Swarm freaked me out because, while I did not want to hurt someone for disliking my favorites, I understood stan culture and why people turn to it. I am someone who did not have a great childhood, as I struggled with building deeper bonds with my friends at the time and opening up to them. I went through a period where I did not trust anyone. I have been the victim of numerous abusive and manipulative situations. I felt that fandom was a good place for me to be, but it was not. Fandom was slowly turning me into a mean-spirited, unbalanced person. I am forever thankful that I learned from my mistakes, got the help I needed, and stopped investing my time and energy into celebrity culture as a way to deal with my pain.
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