Twitter hysteria: one direction to avoid

Saira Khan

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Topics Politics

On Sunday, footballer Gabriel Agbonlahor was sent death threats on Twitter from One Direction fans – lovingly termed ‘Directioners’ – after injuring one of the band members, Louis Tomlinson, during a charity football match. The singer was left limping and later vomited after a shoulder barge from the Aston Villa player.

Some of the threats were as outrageous as ‘This guy hurt Louis knee. I shall hurt your face. I better hear that you apologized or I will find you, and I will kill you’. And this isn’t the only instance of crazed Directioners overreacting. Last month, a Channel 4 documentary about over-obsessive fans sparked Twitter outrage and unsupported claims that Channel 4 is a ‘murderer’ after there were rumoured to be over 100 suicides in response to the documentary – which only served to prove the documentary’s point. Another instance included American singer Taylor Swift holding hands with 1D member Harry Styles, which provoked the following tweet: ‘You’re a f***ing ugly bitch. I want to stab you to death and play around with your blood.’

Agbonlahor announced that he intended to apologise shortly after the incident. However, it’s absurd that Directioners are demanding an apology so strongly – it’s a game, and a game where players often get knocked over and hurt. This display of over-the-top fandom is, frankly, quite saddening.

But another lesson to be learned is that we need to avoid taking Twitter abuse too seriously. Abusive comments on the social-networking site have been the subject of much discussion of late, with death threats sent to feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez after her campaign to get Jane Austen printed on our £10 banknotes, among others. Of course, Twitter threats could be an indication of something more serious, but in the vast majority of cases, they are not. Agbonlahor is a case in point: threats from teenage fangirls should not be deemed acceptable, but they should hardly scare us.

The cult of posting death threats on Twitter has become ridiculous – from those directed at diver Tom Daley after he missed out on gold at the Olympic Games (‘I’m going to find you and i’m going to drown you in the pool you cocky tw*t your a nobody people like you make me sick’) to comments made to Selena Gomez from Justin Bieber fans, after she was photographed frolicking with him on the beach. One Belieber said: ‘If Selena Gomez breaks Justin Bieber’s heart, I will break her face I will kill her without kindness’.

This incident with Gabriel Agbonlahor simply illustrates that some people act crazy at times (and a few of them might actually be crazy) and that Twitter abuse is becoming absurd. No one would condone the publishing of these death threats, but we should avoid creating hysteria over them. It has almost become a trend to threaten celebrities on this social networking website, a trend that reveals the idiocy of a fair number of people. It is pointless to overreact to such messages; it only makes posting them more attractive to those of a twisted and attention-seeking nature.

Saira Khan is a student at the University of Oxford and a spiked intern.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

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