What's the Deal with Stan Twitter?

BY SCARLETT LIRIANOCEPIN

When Eminem wrote the critically acclaimed song “Stan,” I don’t think he imagined a teenager sitting on their bed frantically tweeting about boy bands, but strangely enough, that’s what the term has evolved to mean. It appears that long gone are the days of Stanley Mitchell, a character created by Marshall Mathers to portray his exaggerated view of a crazed fan.

PHOTO: GIPHY

PHOTO: GIPHY

In reality, the modern day self-proclaimed “Stans” are much more than their attachment to the content they support. They coexist with each other in communities on various social networks, one of these is what is known to the initiated as “Stan Twitter,” a niche on the popular social networking platform which focuses exclusively on fandom culture.

Despite their niche status, these “Stan” communities are not at all invisible to outsiders. A quick glance at Twitter’s trending topics on any given day will give you a glimpse into some aspect of fandom culture, a result of the fact that a large portion of Twitter’s user base is made up of “Stan accounts,” or accounts specifically dedicated to being a fan of something. From the ubiquitous passionate sports accounts, to Justin Bieber’s “Beliebers” or Nicki Minaj’s “Barbz,” or what is left of One Direction’s “Directioners,” the scope of Stan Twitter appears to be limitless. You really can’t log onto Twitter without being exposed to at least one incredibly specific piece of celebrity gossip you weren’t actively searching for, and for this you can thank the fans who so diligently keep up with them.

These supporters harbor intense camaraderie with their fellow fans, offering an army of unwavering support to the artists they admire. Although the nature of their social network of choice forces these fanbases to coexist, that doesn’t necessarily mean they do it willingly or well. It is not uncommon to have widespread disagreements between fandoms, otherwise known as “fanwars.” To the outsider, these fights often seem like silly displays of affection that will most likely go unnoticed by the artists in question, but those involved see it as a lot more than that. Fans view their fierce efforts as a love letter of sorts to the people who help them get through the toughest of times. To them, these altercations are nothing in the grand scheme of their love for an artist.

Thanks to the internet, the fan-artist relationship has significantly evolved from what it was in the early days of fandom. Celebrities are now a lot more accessible than they had ever been in the past, placing their fans in a position of privilege that had not been granted to their fanatic forbearers. An increased sense of interactivity and intimacy might just be what prompts the fierce loyalty that fans these days are notorious for. Fans run their accounts as if they were overly involved and underpaid (read: not paid) heads of PR. They do everything in their power to control rumors, defend character, and promote singles, oftentimes doing these jobs more successfully than even the team the artist pays to do them. Innumerable streaming records have been broken and charts have been topped just by the sheer force of fan power, and online support communities like “Stan Twitter” were the principal driving forces of these record breaking initiatives.

A significant amount of the time, whether it be the result of distance or fear of the unknown, these fans will never attempt to interact with each other outside of the confines of the Internet. However, you wouldn’t be able to tell by the way “Stans” treat the friends they’ve made during their time on the social networking site. The relationships that are born from the bond of loving something unconditionally are one of the most positive aspects of a fandom culture that is so often considered toxic by many. These people do not just band together with the sole goal of destroying anyone who speaks ill of their interests, they band together because they’re seeking solace in someone they don’t have to explain themselves to. They’re seeking someone who understands the basis of their love, plainly because they feel it too.

Lead Image Credit: Eminem Vevo