So You Want to Be a Directioner: A Tumblr Starter Guide
Called 1D for short, One Direction is the British boy band that’s taken America by storm. Discovered on the X Factor and manufactured by Simon Cowell, the four boys from small towns in Britain (and one from Ireland) have sold out two U.S. tours, topped 100 million views on YouTube, and debuted their first album, Up All Night, at number one on the Billboard chart. Not even the Beatles can claim that kind of instant acclaim. Here’s a primer on the fandom who call themselves “Directioners" — and what it takes to be one. (Plus, check out our feature: Inside the Gleefully Obsessed World of One Direction Fandom.)
Get to Know “The Boys”
One Direction is made up of five members. You must memorize the following about each:
Harry Styles, 18, is the youngest member of the group, from Holmes Chapel, England. Considered to the be the most flirtatious (and notorious for dating older women), his nickname is “The Pussy Magnet.” He has a curly brunette crop of hair and four nipples (really!).
Louis Tomlinson, 20, is the oldest member of the group, from Doncaster, England. Considered the sassiest, he has earned the nickname “Sassmaster from Doncaster.” Louis is the jokester, doesn’t take anything too seriously, and wears a lot of stripes and suspenders.
Zayn Malik, 19, is from Bradford, England. Zayn smokes, skateboards, has the most tattoos, and is considered to be the “mysterious one.” He has established the nickname “Bradford Bad Boy,” but also has a sensitive side.
Liam Payne, 18, is from Wolverhampton, England. He is considered to be the most serious member of the group and takes on a paternal role, warranting his nickname “Daddy Direction.” He is notorious for staying physically fit, doesn’t drink alcohol, and has only one kidney.
Niall Horan, 18, is the only member of the group not from England. Born and raised in Mullingar, Ireland, he is also the only blonde. He’s the free spirit of the group, swears a lot, and once called himself “a carefree mofo” to reassure fans that he is untroubled and easygoing.
Who the Boys Are Dating
Harry is currently single. In the past, he dated Caroline Flack, a British TV presenter 15 years his senior when he was only age 17. He is notorious for hooking up with older women, and a rumor recently started of an affair he might have had with a married woman.
Louis is in a relationship with Eleanor Calder, a college student in England who works at Hollister.
Liam is dating Danielle Peazer, a background dancer.
Niall is single. He recently made friends with Demi Lovato, but she recently reported that they are not dating.
What’s a Directioner?
A Directioner is a true and loyal fan. They know everything there is to know about the boy band, and they may “ship” (i.e. imagine relationships among) various romantic or pansexual combinations of the boys (more on this in a second). Do not confuse directioner with directionator, as the latter is a pejorative slang for a fake fan.
What Makes You a Directionator?
Some insults Directioners fling at perceived Directionators: they only like the boys for their looks, they spell the boys’ names wrong, they don’t understand inside jokes, or they only know the lyrics to "What Makes You Beautiful" (the boy’s first single). If the boys ever did fail, say Directioners, the Directionators would be the first people to walk away.
How Does Tumblr Fit Into All This?
If One Direction is your religion, then Tumblr is where you go to worship. Tumblr has nearly half a million blogs devoted to One Direction, yielding hundreds of thousands of posts each day. Fans can worship the boys by reblogging pictures, creating animated GIFs, posting their favorite video diaries from the X Factor days, or compiling photosets. Tumblr is the place for Directioners to stockpile their obsession. (See: “Harry Styles Collarbone Appreciation”)
How to Talk Like a Directioner
Imagines: An imaginary situation involving one of the boys. For example: Imagine you wake up and Harry Styles has made you your favorite breakfast (squeal!). Imagines can be short sentences or lengthy pieces of fan fiction. Imagines are a way to visualize a fan’s fantasies.
Ships: A term popularized by writers of fan fiction, used to endorse a relationship between characters. In the case of One Direction, a ship is a fictional (or in some cases, perceived as real but publicly unacknowledged) relationship between group members. The “Larry" ship — a combination of the names Louis and Harry, who many fans believe are secretly in love — is the most popular amour in the 1D fandom. How to use "ships" in a sentence:
- I ship Larry (“I think that Louis and Harry are meant to be, forever”)
- I WILL GO DOWN WITH THIS SHIP! (“I will never lose faith in the relationship”)
- JUMP SHIP! (“I am leaving the ship and no longer believe in the relationship”)
Feels: A term used to describe overwhelming feelings associated with the band, i.e. “I have so many feels!”
OTP (One True Pairing): This refers to your favorite romantic combination in the fandom (see “Ships” above).
Smut: Sexually explicit fan fiction; elaborate tales of romance and sex, usually between a fan and one of the band members.
What About British Vocabulary?
A true Directioner may talk or write in a British accent, or incorporate British vocabulary into her speaking/writing, so that she sounds more like the boys. Some common Britishisms are:
- "X" - a signoff that replaces "xo" at the end of an email, letter, and so on ("Going to sleep xx")
- Spelling words like “color” and “favorite” with an “ou.” Also, using Britishisms like “lads” instead of “boys.”
- Referring to the United States (or anywhere that is not Britain) as “Narnia,” because it is outside the UK, which is, naturally, the only appropriate place for a Directioner to live.
The sexuality of the boys: Constantly questioned by fans (especially that of Harry and Louis). During group interviews, Harry and Louis will often sit next to one another, place their hands on each others’ knees, and/or gaze into each others’ eyes in a way that fans gobble up. On stage, they will occasionally slap each other’s backsides. A YouTube video from early on in their career shows Harry telling an interviewer, when asked who his first real crush was, that it was Louis Tomlinson. There are also many archived tweets between the boys that fans consider expressive of their mutual affection.
Eleanor (Louis’ girlfriend): Eleanor is considered by many fans to be a “beard,” hired by “management” (see below) as a front for Louis’ homosexuality. The volume of Eleanor disdain has become so intense that recently, Eleanor herself Tweeted to a fan who’d said he/she hoped her “contract is expiring soon.” Eleanor replied: “Sorry to be blunt but I hope you can take a step back and realize that you are completely deluded.” Since then, fans have adopted “deluded” into their everyday speak.
Management: Anything that conflicts with canonical 1D lore, particular ships, or perceived conventional wisdom is often chalked up to a plot by the band’s nefarious “management.” Many fans believe the management team has the boys under contracts to appear heterosexual in public and put out a “clean” image. Whenever anything goes wrong with the boys, or anything happens that fans don’t agree on, “management” blamed. Of course, no one really knows who this ominous “management” really is, though Directioners are convinced it’s made up of a team of burly homophobic dudes.
The Fourth Wall: Like any devoted fandom, 1D fans are apprehensive about being exposed to and judged by unsympathetic outsiders who may view them as crazy or weird or foolish. They shipping culture of fanfiction involving the boys — especially the erotic fanfiction — adds an extra layer of nervousness. This is because Directioners may feel conflicted by their protective feelings toward the band, while at the same time legitimately participating in a ship that could make the boys uncomfortable if they read it. So, the fandom evolved the psychological defense they call the Fourth Wall — i.e., the principle that fanfiction needs to be kept under wraps in such a way that the boys never know about it. Mostly this meant keeping the ships on Tumblr, as the thinking went that neither the boys nor their management were really aware of Tumblr. Unfortunately for fans of the Fourth Wall, this has not been the case for quite some time now.
Is It Possible to Get Kicked Out of One Direction Fandom?
1D fandom is competitive and can be vicious as any clique. Most of the feuding revolves around who has had the opportunity to attend a concert, who has had their photo taken with the band, and who might be followed by the boys themselves on Twitter. Fans are quick to criticize other fans who they think are more fortunate than them. It’s also not uncommon for a fan to be bullied right off the internet for posting something that is deemed inauthentic (a photoshopped picture, for example) or for posting hurtful or negative things about the boys.
Are There Any Skills I Should Learn to Become a Good Directioner?
Photoshop analysis might be useful. Images often surface on Tumblr allegedly showing the boys kissing or getting handsy. Often, these images have been doctored — the silhouette of one of the boys cut out and placed in an existing photo, the boys’ bodies lined up so it appears they’re much closer than they actually are, etc. A large part of being a true Directioner revolves around what you will believe and/or how well you can analyze evidence to the community’s satisfaction.
The “Larry” Thing
The "Larry Stylinson" tag on Tumblr (see also just “Larry”) is a collection of posts pertaining to the Larry ship (the perceived romantic/sexual relationship between Louis and Harry). On a good day, the tag is filled with “Larry moments,” which include pictures of the two boys together, whispering into each other’s ears, followed by heartwarming captions, video montages of the times they have publicly flirted, and text posts of overwhelming feelings (“feels”) about the alleged couple. Many Larry shippers are anxiously awaiting the moment that Louis and Harry can “come out” and publicly reveal their relationship. Others take the perceived bromance with a grain of salt.
How Can I Become a Directioner?
If you’re on Tumblr, then you’re already in the right place. Start with the basic One Direction tag (you will never be able to read even a day’s worth of posts at one sitting). And make sure to read our in-depth survey of the fandom culture. Lastly, be sure to check back with Storyboard on Thursday and Friday of this week for a helpful infographic and, of course, our interview with the boys themselves.
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