An Old Person’s (20 And Over) Guide To One Direction

If you, like me, are one foot in the grave in the eyes of most of One Direction’s target demographic, you may be a little confused as to who these people are, and why everyone seems to care about them so much. Allow me to be your guide, your sensei if you will, through the terrifying labyrinth that is Being A Few Years Too Old For The Latest Teen Sensation.

Essentially, much like the equally-hard-to-comprehend Justin Bieber, they were created the “modern way,” or, “the democratic way.” Just as Bieber let the people speak for him by giving him millions of YouTube hits and comments, the boys of OD (oh my god, their fans are totally OD’ing on them, what a hilarious pun LOLOLOL) were voted for by the people. The boys (Niall, Harry, Zayn, Louis, and Liam) all auditioned individually for the X Factor over in Britain but apparently were not good enough to stand up by themselves. However, like chocolate to the proverbial peanut butter, they just worked so much better together, so the V-neck wearing maestro of all things soulless and auto-tuned, Simon Cowell, put them together into a group. (Okay, so Wikipedia is telling me that apparently Nicole Scherzinger, of Pussycat Dolls fame — “I wanna be a star, I wanna have boobies” — put them together, but I much prefer the idea of Simon doing it. He is this generation’s Lou Perlman, only he doesn’t look like a beached walrus.)

But I digress.

So you had these five beautiful, just-of-age, and objectively talented boys who wear delightfully not-quite-matching outfits and bop around the stage with charisma and charm, but they were just not good enough to even finish runners-up. They were beaten out by some guy I don’t care about and Rebecca Ferguson, also known as the best singer to ever grace a bullsh-t singing competition. But, as is the cruel, cruel fate of reality television, often the actual winners end up being less popular than some of their stylish, charming loser counterparts. (Et tu, Ruben Studdard, et tu?) And so it was that One Direction would go on to become the popular ones of the bunch, becoming the next tween sensation and making hit after hit that rocks the worlds of both 12-year-old girls and deeply shamed 23-year-old Thought Catalog writers.

So what makes them so special? Well, if you ask Tumblr, it’s the fact that two of their members — namely, Harry and Louis — are latently homosexual and in love with each other. As with most forms of media/entertainment/art, Tumblr is not satisfied until there is more gay fanfiction about it than actual original text. If you ask 12-year-old girls, I’m pretty sure it’s just because they are “soOOooOo cute and awesome,” similar to my explanation of the Backstreet Boys’ appeal a scarce 10 years ago. And if you ask several of my shame-filled friends who occasionally repost pictures of the boys all hanging out with each other on some beach as if no one’s going to see it, it’s just because they’re British and that makes them somehow more acceptable as a band.

In any case, they make criminally catchy music and have charming accents, so I insist that we all come out in the open with our appreciation for them. Now that we know their rise to fame a little better, we can swat away any accusations of bad musical tastes with a simple “Yeah, well, they have a book published. They’re literary.” I’m pretty sure that’s enough to keep the critics at bay.



image – Sockshaha

Chelsea Fagan

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.


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  • JLUA

    I’m 25 and I have to admit that they are just really cute (Harry!) with catchy songs. And yes, I’m looking forward to the second album (which is probably going to be really bad and then no one will remember them)

  • Lindsay Ellis (@thelindsayellis)

    It’s “I wanna have groupies.” Not “boobies.”

    • Emil Caillaux

      One comes with the other.

      • ed

        I’m so glad to come home to this. 25 year old male here. I was walking home in the rain here in Krakow, in the dark, holding my umbrella and realized I had been walking behind a girl for quite some time, and of course I wondered if she thought I was following her and if I was some crazy man. She crossed the street eventually. If she only knew that the music coming out of my headphones was One Direction, I’m sure she would have been put at ease. I don’t know, I just dig this group. I DON’T understand Justin Bieber, though. He dresses like boybanders did 12 years ago!

    • sara

      it totally sounds like she’s saying boobies tho…

  • Allyson Marrs

    You forgot the sixth group member: Hair. In fact, one might assume that OD’s collective shaggy, mind-of-its-own hair is truly the star of this operation.

  • Raychel

    I thought it was “I wanna be a star, I wanna have groupies”…

  • Belle

    I LUV U HARRY!!! <3

    – an unabashed 24-year old female fan

  • Cindy Malik (@fjindy)

    I was expecting something negative, bagging out the group but I’m honestly quite delightfully surprised that its not! enjoyed this article very much :”)

  • Samantha

    “if by ship you mean i flick them on there nose till there ears turn blue and steal there lightbulbs from spain then yes” might be my favorite Liam Payne tweet next to “I can promise I am not engaged this I can promise you. I’m only 17 I love green beans”

  • 20 year old directioner

    Liam is mine.

  • Leticia

    Yes! I love when a fellow 20-something comes out of the One Direction closet. I openly play their CD all the time. It’s such good, catchy pop and I love it. And they’re adorable. Go Zayn!!!

  • Tally Inoue

    actually, they have TWO books published.
    i should have never pushed play at that one thing video. ;/

    [and why can’t i comment here with my disqus account anymore?]

    • letirodriguez

      The One Thing video is what got me too

  • Mushion

    I’ve never even heard of them. I’m 22 and already behind on the times XD

  • Tally Inoue


  • Erin

    I am also a 20 something and love these kids, their music is so catchy (what’s wrong with pop?), they are funny and charming, and they are British. What’s not to love? One Direction infection is a real thing and I’d ship Larry Stylinson any day, you mad?

  • nicole

    I’m 20 and didn’t think I was too old to like One Direction. I think that’s what I learned from this article.

  • Monica

    i resisted them for like, 5 weeks, then music channels played One Thing EVERY hour.
    my resistance for Call Me Maybe was much weaker than that – 1 week!

  • Sunset

    I first found out about them when Zayn trended on Twitter, but didn’t really care. Then I kept hearing WMYB and couldn’t resist any longer.

    And then I met Larry Stylinson. And we lived happily ever after. God, I love One Direction.

  • Natz


    Thank you for speaking in behalf of us 20something fans :D

  • Natalie

    Yes! Love this article. I’m so glad to see that there are other older 1D fans out there!

    I tried to resist, I really did. Can’t fight their British charm forever!

    • Natalie

      ‘Cuse me, British AND Irish charm, that is! ;)

      • N

        Let’s not forget Nialler! <3

  • steph1d4eva


  • Catherine

    This article proves a few things…
    1.) That Thought Catalog just “gets” me in every way.
    2.) That I am not alone as a 23 year old with “One Direction Infection”
    3.) One Direction is amazing.

    I love them ALL so much, but no has here has given Niall the love he deserves yet <333

  • steph

    Um, Louis is obvs the cutest. And Zayn is the worst-looking out of all of them.

    • guest


  • Rebecca

    Their SNL performance was what did it for me….

    • MM

      me too! They are adorable.

  • Juna Yanoyan

    Well their fans call them 1D not OD. OMG hahaha

  • raven

    Finally. I don’t feel so alone being 23 and loving One Direction. It was all my best friends fault she told me Larry Stylinson and then I had to look it up and I fell in love with Louis Tomlinson.. and it intrigued me so much because he has my last name even though he wasn’t orignally born as tomlinson.

  • One Direction Has That “One Thing” « Possession Obsession

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