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Inside Teen Fandom: Ariana Grande, One Direction, and More

The Fandom of Ariana GrandeWhen I was in high school I was a serious Tori Amos fan. I would drive home listening to side one of Under the Pink, hit eject from the tape deck, and then continue with side two in my room while I avoided doing my homework for as long as possible. If I found out someone had not heard the album, I stopped the world and made them listen to it. I was a total fanatic about it. Seriously. I was the girl who would insist that you listen to the words. If Twitter had been around when I was in high school I would have spent hours connecting with other Tori fans and finding ways to discuss “Cornflake Girl” within 140 characters.

All of this is to say, when I hear about the world of Twitter fandom and teenagers I get it. And I am kind of jealous.

I love the idea of being able to be up to date on press about your favorite musician, being able to connect with other fans, and possibly connecting with the artist themselves.

Recently I was out to dinner with friends and the conversation veered towards the tragic story of a One Direction fan who had a horrible reaction to the musicians not communicating with her on Twitter. She supposedly started Tweeting to the band that if they did not follow her back she was going to kill her dog. (Thankfully it has since been revealed to be a hoax.)

A friend at the dinner told me these extreme fans are not the norm at all. She knows this because her daughter is actively part of the Ariana Grande Twitter fandom. (Ariana has been on Nickelodeon sitcoms Victorious and iCarly, and also has a top-ten hit song “The Way.”) My friend arranged for me to talk to Emily, her 14-year-old daughter. This is our conversation:

When did you start to follow Ariana on Twitter? How old were you?

I was 13. When I first made my personal twitter account, I used it to tweet about video games and my personal life. I decided that since I tweeted so much about One Direction maybe people didn’t want to hear about that, I should make a separate twitter account for One Direction. So after I made that account, in July of 2012, maybe about two or three months later, I saw a tweet on my timeline about Ariana Grande, and I recognized her from the show Victorious and her YouTube channel, osnapitzari. So I started to follow her, and I became more and more obsessed with her, and I made a lot of friends. Eventually I changed that account (which had been mostly about One Direction) to focus on Ariana and One Direction.

I follow her on Instagram (on all THREE of my Instagrams), and I “liked” her Facebook page and keep track of her posts. Even though I don’t go on Facebook that much.

Have you ever tweeted directly to Ariana? Answering a question or wishing her a good day?

Yes. All the time!

Everyone in the entire fandom, whenever she tweets, they go CRAZY. They want to be followed, they want to be noticed, they want to be favorited, they want to be direct messaged, they want to be retweeted. So everyone’s tweeting her every day.

Has she ever tweeted back?

Yes! She’s tweeted me three times: she tweeted me back when I asked how her day was (this was when she was at 3 million followers); the second time, she used to do these things called Follow Fridays, and she put my name in one of those; and the third time, she did the Follow Friday thing again, but with my new user name (because I changed it). She also favorited me once, and her brother, Frankie Grande, also noticed me. (I tweeted him that he should twerk to “Thrift Shop,” and he replied, “Totally!”)

She also used to have an ask.fm account (but she deactivated it because she got so many messages she couldn’t respond to), and before she shut it down, she answered a question I asked about her album. The most recent time she’s noticed me was when she was doing a live stream on Twitcam, and she was answering some questions, and I kept on spamming different questions, and one of those questions got noticed by her, and she answered the question and said she loved my icon. WHICH I MADE. (It was a picture of her.)

Ariana followed me back on Twitter on November 25, 2012, which was the best day of my life, except for the day I met her. And her brother followed me this March.

I got to meet Ariana in person at her concert on the 16th of August this year.

When she doesn’t tweet you back how do you feel?

When she doesn’t tweet me back, I feel a little ignored, even though she has almost 10 million followers, because so many of my friends have been noticed so many times. But when she DID tweet me back, it made me extremely happy.

What do you benefit/ gain from being a part of the Ariana twitter fandom? How has it made parts of your life better or more interesting/ exciting?

I’ve made so many friends, and I’ve actually met five of them already in person who live near me. I’ve gained a lot of twitter followers (I have 3,333 at the moment).

I guess it’s made my life more interesting because I get to discover so many new people that I haven’t met before who are actually pretty awesome. And I get to meet people from around the world, like one of my friends who’s in Scotland.

And there’s always something going on. Everything is real. Adults might not experience it, because maybe they’re not in fandoms, and they’re too old to experience what it’s like when you’re a teenager and you have an idol. I’m not thinking so much about school drama, because there’s always something going on and this fandom takes up so much room in my brain. And the fandom is so huge, anything can happen. It’s like a constant TV show, but in real life.

Do you think there are adults within the twitter fandom space that you are a part of?

There are some maybe 21-year-old fans, and some people who are old enough to be graduating high school, but there are really not that many adults, because in my opinion, adults don’t really GET how the fandom part of Twitter works. Because it might be confusing, the timeline goes too fast, they don’t understand spamming (spamming tweets to your idols to get noticed)… They don’t get it because they’re not teenage girls. Or boys. (The fandom is mostly girls, but there ARE guys.)

Do you think it is a safe way to engage with celebrities?

Yes. Because engaging on Facebook is embarrassing — you really want to spam comments on your idol’s posts? That’s going to do nothing! They don’t actually GO on Facebook, it’s either their managers, or they post something on Twitter and edit their settings so it automatically goes to Facebook too. With Twitter, it’s like we’re super close, even though we’re not. Even talking with the other people in the fandom makes us seem super close to Ariana, and each other.

Stay tuned for Emily’s advice to tweens and teens about social media and fandom.

Recently Ariana spoke to MTV about haters and bullies. “There’s always gonna be somebody who doesn’t like you. I think the sooner you can come to terms with the fact that you’re not always gonna be liked by everybody, the sooner you’ll be happier, and the sooner you’ll be okay with everything.”

Image Credit: PR Photos

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