Being on stan Twitter is an experience you can’t really understand unless you’re a part of it. Luckily for those who are curious about it, I’ve been on stan Twitter for more than six years, and it’s one sub-community on Twitter that frustrates me just as much as comforts me.
Here’s a rundown on some of the basics. The word “stan” comes from Eminem’s song “Stan,” released two decades ago. It’s defined as an obsessive fan of something. These “stans” often talk about a piece of media or a celebrity, and sometimes engage in “shipping.” “Shipping” is known as liking the relationship between two or more people. The origin of the term comes from the last half of the word “relationship.”
At first, these “stans” on stan Twitter can seem really annoying. When someone dies, there are always ridiculous replies under the person’s tweets in the form of fancams or fans saying to “stan LOOΠΔ.” There are always people fighting over trivial things or love triangles. Either you have “taste” or your “fave” is a “flop.”
On stan Twitter, you also have to watch what you say. I see people throw around slurs, and then others rightfully call them out for it. Some people can be outrageously sexist, homophobic, racist, xenophobic or generally ignorant about other cultures or what’s happening in the world.
“Cancel culture” was largely birthed on stan Twitter, calling out famous people for the things they’ve said and done. Sometimes it can be overwhelming because someone is always getting cancelled. How many times has “#blankisoverparty” trended on Twitter? But it’s also necessary in order to call attention to problematic people or companies.
I’ve been using stan Twitter for so long now I forget every fandom I’ve been apart of. At some point in time, my account was dedicated to a YouTuber, a TV show, a movie series and two separate bands. Each of these fandoms have had its fair share of ship wars and petty blocking. But the community I am mostly a part of on Twitter is arguably one of the biggest and most argumentative out there: One Direction stan Twitter.
There’s no doubt about the fact that One Direction fans have shaped stan Twitter into what it is today. When the band formed in 2010, Twitter was the reason word about them spread so fast. Everyone was talking about them and even directly to them. But it’s nothing like what it was back then.
Everyone was a bit nicer in the earlier days, albeit extremely cringey. People were just excited to share the same interests and find a community where they could talk about their favorite songs, follow their favorite member of the band and get daily updates on what the One Direction boys were doing together.
Now, it feels like a less intense version of a battlefield. I myself am a fan of the entire band and enjoy looking at content about most of them daily. Some people are “solo” stans, meaning they only like one of the band members. There are others who ship two of the boys from the band and talk about that frequently.
There is a lot of fighting between these “solo” stans and those who like the entire group, mostly because some people think their favorite is superior and send immense amounts of hate to the other members, as well as their fans.
There is a large amount of sexualization of the celebrities occurring on stan Twitter, which can be generally uncomfortable to read constantly. Sometimes, it can be extremely draining mentally to be online.
All of this is not to say stan Twitter isn’t at least somewhat rewarding. If it wasn’t, I would’ve left a long time ago. I’ve made friends from all over the world that I talk to regularly, some who I’ve known for approximately five years now.
I’ve been on FaceTime calls with people from several different states, stayed up with people in different time zones and vented to them about things going on in my life. I know about their dogs, their jobs, their schoolwork and their relationship problems. I’ve met such a diverse group of people who speak different languages or have had so many different experiences, and it’s so exciting to learn more about the world every single day.
Without being on stan Twitter, I never would have met such a wide range of people. I think I would still be a huge fan of the band, but I owe a lot to the structure of the online community itself.
People are always inviting you to be in group chats, hyping up your selfies, telling you they love and care about you after only a week of knowing you. If you learn to navigate it, stan Twitter can be so welcoming and opening.
The community has changed a lot over time. It’s nothing like the old days, where people just shared their love for a band without hatred or shaming.
Sometimes, I’d do anything to go back to that. But stan Twitter is still an exciting place where I’ve learned a lot, even if us stans seem to annoy everyone else on Twitter. All I can say to that is I’m not sorry, and, as any stan Twitter user may put it, you better go find some taste.