On Wednesday, I became one of the many, many, many people to watch with rapt attention as two members of One Direction — one current, one former — began going at it like Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots on Twitter. When Louis Tomlinson once again called out Naughty Boy out for posting pictures of himself with Zayn Malik, Malik slammed Tomlinson on Twitter and basically told him to stay out of Malik's life. Thus did a routine situation become an Internet meltdown, devastating fans and the rest of the Entertainment world. On Thursday, it appears the fans' voices have been registered. Malik defended his tweet against Tomlinson and expressed his confusion about why he was being attacked for sending it, which, I mean, is fair enough.
If you're like me, you might have been worried that Malik might eventually delete the pointed tweet that launched the media storm, but the tweet is still alive and well alongside his newest one. As you might guess from the former trending hashtag #TOMLINSONSLAYSAGAIN, the Directioners were overwhelmingly Team Tomlinson in this particular squabble, many of them expressing their disappointment or frustration that Malik would attack Tomlinson so publicly at all instead of backing him up against Naughty Boy. The fact that Malik was kind of between a rock and a hard place here wasn't lost on some fans, of course, but most of them just viewed him "choosing Naughty Boy over Tomlinson" as a betrayal.
Yeaaaah. In Malik's defense, I'm genuinely sure he has a hard time seeing the correlation between defending himself and a friend from Tomlinson's tweets on Wednesday and grievously insulting the entire One Direction fan base in one fell swoop. I see the correlation, but then again I spend a lot of time keeping an eye on the Directioners — especially now that they are going through the same thing I went through as far back as with The Spice Girls and as recently as with blink-182. Starting feuds on Twitter has never really been Malik's thing and, instead of the fact that he made it his thing being definitive proof that he does not want or need Tomlinson interjecting in his life, the fan base took this as the Last Great Insult in his ongoing quest to cut all ties with the band that was once like a family to him.
If it seems dramatic, that's because it is. Boy band fan bases are nothing if not dramatic. However, I see the other side of it as well. From flying home in the middle of the tour to announcing he wants to go back to being a normal person to hanging out in studios and releasing a single to shaving off all his hair and removing any trace of One Direction from his Twitter, there hasn't so much been a transition period in accepting Malik is no longer a part of the band as it's just been one hard blow after another. The fans haven't had the time to gain the emotional capacity to let Malik go. It's only been a month since he released his statement, after all. The last thing they were ready to deal with, on top of everything else, was a feud between their boys when they were assured that the One Direction would still be a family even after they had to let one member go.
For those who are curious about the latest trend in the fandom, Directioners have replaced the #TOMLINSONSLAYSAGAIN hashtag with #IstighfarZayn, which is a word in the Islamic religion which means "the act of seeking forgiveness from Allah." (Remember what I said about boy band fans being dramatic?) However, for most fans, all they simply want from Malik is an apology, either to Tomlinson or to the fans themselves for the emotional damage that he has caused them. Whether he genuinely owes them that apology is for you to decide, but I'd just be happy if we could all move on from this conflict. This separation is hard enough without infighting between the band members.