Everyone has an embarrassing obsession from when they were a teenager. It was a turbulent time, full of hormones, drama and spots. Some of us resorted to extreme measures of distraction.
In my case, it was an obsession with the world famous boyband One Direction.
'Hi, we're One Direction!'
— úna (@unaharty) March 15, 2012
Between the years of 2010 and 2013 I was 100% dedicated to Harry, Niall, Liam, Louis and Zayn. Especially Zayn.
I fell in love with their luscious locks and cute curls on the popular TV show The X Factor. Simon Cowell amalgamated them together as a band to allow more contestants beyond the Judges Houses stage.
I supported them fervently through the musical reality show but nothing could have prepared me for the addiction that was to follow.
One Direction were born in the age of Twitter. There's no denying that their fame would not be so widespread if it weren't for the 140-character social media platform. I decidedly hopped upon the Twitter fangirl bandwagon branding myself with my very own One Direction fan Twitter handle.
It baffles me to say that I once was the proud owner of the @directioner handle which I gave up in order to devote myself solely to my one and only, Mr Malik. After a few more minor changes, the handle I settled on was @Zaynsterz.
Harry is extraordinharry. Louis is fabulouis. Niall is phenominiall. Liam is brilliliam. Zayn is amazayn. One Direction is 1Derful.
— úna (@unaharty) November 20, 2011
Twitter was fun. I made so many new friends, some of which I am still Facebook friends with and used to Skype to discuss our mutual five faves.
What I was addicted to was the validation. By tweeting a #1DFact you were almost guaranteed 20 retweets if not more. People respected you and almost expected a lot from you too. I enjoyed that expectation.
At my peak, I was the largest One Direction Twitter account in Ireland, winning Twitter awards such as "Number 1 One Direction Fan Account in Ireland" and being nominated for "Favourite One Direction Fan Account" and "Best Zayn Fan Account".
Can't believe I was nominated for favourite 1D fanpage! That's just incredible! You can vote for me herehttp://t.co/jlW2g04
— úna (@unaharty) August 9, 2011
#1DFact: Niall gets 1:24 minutes worth of solos, Louis gets 1:29, Zayn has 5:38, Liam has 7:08 and Harry gets 7:18.
— úna (@unaharty) January 28, 2012
#1DFact: Zayn uses Asda's own brand of anti-dandruff shampoo to wash his hair.
— úna (@unaharty) October 9, 2011
The primary and ultimate goal of being a One Direction fan was being tweeted or followed by one of the boys. One would tweet them incessantly once the news had broken that they were online, altering a copy and pasted tweet by adding a number at the end.
@zaynmalik I HAVE ASKED YOU TO FOLLOW ME ABOUT A GAZILLION TIMES, PLEASE ACTUALLY READ THIS ONE AND MAKE IT HAPPEN. I LOVE YOU<3
— úna (@unaharty) April 5, 2011
I even had Twitter petitions (Twititions) for my followers to sign to encourage Zayn to follow me. Prior to The X Factor tour in 2011, myself and my home friends created a Twitition in an attempt to be granted a meet and greet with One Direction during their visit to Dublin.
Our joint efforts earned us nearly two thousand signatures. Unfortunately we weren't successful but we did manage to bag ourselves a seat beside Niall Horan's father and his best friend Seán Cullen who were both super kind!
During the early stages of my obsession I was lucky enough to be followed by Zayn Malik. It was euphoric day to say the least. I then proceeded to direct message him constantly to which he eventually responded "Hi."
Yes, everybody. Zayn Malik said hi to me.
However our love was not to be and he unfollowed me probably in an attempt to stop receiving my extremely invasive private messages. Heartbroken is an understatement.
This was not the end of my One Direction interaction. I was lucky enough to receive a reply from Niall when I tweeted him hoping he was feeling better after injuring his leg.
@Zaynsterz wey hey lets go surfing ! oh no lets not.nialls got a dodgy knee
— Niall Horan (@NiallOfficial) November 1, 2011
I distinctly remember sitting on my bed, feeling bereft of any 1D love when suddenly the impossible came through - a tweet from Mullingar's finest. I think I screamed the house down in ecstasy.
The weird and the wonderful
Sometimes the fandom (kingdom of fans) got a little too much. There was immense pressure to produce new content such as fresh images that no other fan had ever seen or discover a quote which would soar you to Twitter fame.
I remember nearly getting knocked down by the Green line Luas when I was 15 because I spotted Niall outside the door of the Fitzwilliam Hotel on St. Stephen's Green on the afternoon of their Up All Night tour.
I then proceeded to attempt to break into the hotel by climbing a bin in order to meet my future husbands. I was unsuccessful. However, I did get an image of Niall's rear as he tempted myself and the hundreds of other fans waiting attentively outside the city centre hotel.
As my obsession grew, so did my followers. At my height I had 48,000 followers. Bizarre. I also ran a Tumblr blog of the name "onedirectioner.tumblr.com" which I now realise that I could've sold for a couple of thousand euros.
Perhaps my best Twitter achievement was when I had five sentences trending worldwide simultaneously.
LOUIS IS OUR GOD. ZAYN IS OUR MASTER. LIAM IS OUR KING. HARRY IS OUR LORD. NIALL IS OUR BABY.
— úna (@unaharty) September 25, 2011
What I learned
Reflecting back upon this period of my life is rather unusual. Without any social media training whatsoever I managed to climb the Twitter-sphere only fifteen years of age. I learnt about what people want to hear and how they want to hear it.
I thought myself about photo editing and my grammar improved vastly too because of all the writing I had been doing. (Fanfictions? What are thoooose?)
Although my bedroom walls were plastered floor to ceiling (sometimes also ceiling) with faces of five strange boys and my days were filled with chatting to people I'd never met, I would never regret all the time and energy I spent loving One Direction. I could have even told you what they wore yesterday and what they ate for breakfast that morning.
But it was not the music. It was not their good looks. It was the sense of belonging. I was being addicted to belonging to a group of people who appreciated what I had to say and listened to me.
@zaynmalik will u marry me?
— úna (@unaharty) August 7, 2011
If only Zayn had appreciated all my kind words over the years.
Never got a Valentines card before...@zaynmalik you wanna change that? (;
— úna (@unaharty) February 13, 2012
Nothing would make me happier than to see that @zaynmalik knows I exist.
— úna (@unaharty) October 22, 2011
All I want for Christmas is youu. @zaynmalik
— úna (@unaharty) October 6, 2011