[Opinion] Why fangirling is NOT a good idea

Written by Tanishka Vashee and Hafiz Akbar

Edited by Daniel Yi

On the 14th of August, an image broke the internet. More specifically, it broke F1 social media. To be exact, it was an image of Mclaren’s starboy Lando Norris slow dancing with a young woman. It might seem nothing out of the ordinary and sure, it’s just another photo of a pair of lovers dancing on the beach. But what’s creepy about this is the fact that the photo in question was intended for private eyes, not public.

The screengrab was taken off someone’s private account. Norris, nor the young woman whose face we couldn’t see, were supposed to have their time off the hustle and bustle of the Formula One grid and all the media attention. Yet, it took no time for so-called “fans” to find the young woman’s identity through one blurry photograph (or in this instance, screenshot) off the internet. Sure, it’d been okay if these so-called “fans” just acknowledged that yes, Lando Norris is just another human being himself and wants the things we want, such as a romantic relationship. But no, they professed that they felt “heartbroken” and some even resorted to sending hate messages to the poor young woman.

It was shameful and disgusting to watch. The images were made public without their consent and it makes no sense to send hate to either of them. This whole fiasco got us pondering the question: Dear fans, do you think you own them?

Being an F1 driver is demanding on and off the track. When they’re not training, they’re engaged in promotional activities. They’re basically under the spotlight, under public scrutiny every other hour. As a result, they’re trained by their PR officers on how to interact with mainstream media. 

But with the rise of social media, another problem arises. They are never really disconnected. Don’t get me wrong, it’s refreshing to see them connect to their fans so well and remain this accessible on a common platform. But because of this, the previously solid line between strictly professional work and private life is slowly, but surely, fading away. 

People believe they know and have a right to know everything about their favourite celebrities and athletes. This is where you draw the line. As an audience, we can only see aspects of them they want us to see, and no, we are NOT entitled to an insight into their life just because we adore them. 

It’s hard enough living your life knowing that those around you judge you. Now imagine millions of people wanting to look into your life and wanting to comment on everything you do. It’s unfair and out of proportion. They’re racing drivers, for God’s sake, not Love Island celebrities.

The same goes for all Formula One drivers. Praising their skillset and adoring them is one thing. Invading their personal lives down to the finest of details are another. Plus, we’re pretty sure you wouldn’t like having someone or a total stranger for that matter, peer into whatever you’re doing all the time. That’s just mentally draining.

They are humans, they have needs, desires and dreams that they don’t necessarily want to share with millions of people at any given time. It doesn’t help mainstream media outlets write pieces like “A long list of Lewis Hamilton’s ex-lovers.”, “Who is Charles Leclerc’s ex-girlfriend and why did he break up with her?”, “Daniel Ricciardo’s ex-girlfriend shockingly moves on with another race driver from NZ” and the recent very public coverage of the F1 drivers that are vacationing in Greece. They’re having a vacation, for God’s sake. I’m sure everyone’s got something better to do than stalk someone having a vacay with their loved one.

Look, the drivers are as human as we are, minus the physical advantage they might have over us average joes. They need rest as much as the next person and this summer break is the perfect chance for them to enjoy themselves without being highlighted under the spotlight. So we think it’s best if we just leave them to whatever the hell they are up to.

Dear fans, it is one thing to appreciate their skill set and a completely different thing to invade their lives. Let’s leave them alone when they expect to be left alone and not disturb or even trespass on what’s considered normal. With the summer break almost coming to an end, we hope that these sorts of incidents don’t repeat and we focus more on racing.

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