What is Stan Twitter

An Insider’s Look

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Gabrielle Schwager, Arts & Entertainment Editor

When the world went into a sudden lockdown in the middle of March, pretty much everyone found themselves with an unprecedented amount of free time on their hands. All over the internet, there were articles and suggestions for hobbies and goals for people to accomplish during the quarantine.

Seeing as I was a teenager struggling with the shift to online school, I naturally didn’t obey any of these suggestions and, as a hobby, accidentally found myself in one of the most interesting and unique parts of the internet: “Stan Twitter.”

Even before the internet, fan communities were always a large part of the culture. Some of the first modern “fanfiction”—that is, stories about other people’s characters written by fans—is thought to have appeared in the late 1800s and early 1900s with the popularity of Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. But since the rise of the internet in the late twentieth century, fan communities have grown exponentially.

Fan communities, since the rise of the internet, have taken hold in many different places. Websites such as Fanfiction.net, Archive of Our Own, and Wattpad are places that foster fanfiction, and social media platforms like Instagram, Tumblr, and Reddit are able to have sectionalized communities to talk about the works of media and fiction that they love.

But only one social media site, I would argue, has created a fan community that’s truly like no other; that website is Twitter.

Twitter is an incredibly popular social media platform known for its ability to quickly convey information in the form of tweets—280 character-long posts. “Stan Twitter” is the name of various communities of fans who connect with each other over this platform.

The history of the phrase “stan” actually stems from rapper Eminem, who’s 2000 single “Stan” tells the story of a crazy fan named Stan who is obsessed with Eminem and ends up killing himself. Though the connotations of the song were negative, the larger fan community co-opted the phrase and it is now a term used to describe such maniacal fans, even being added to the Oxford Dictionary.

Stan Twitter, in my experience, is fascinating due to its habits and social norms which are so wildly different from anywhere else on the internet. It has its own lingo, communities, and unique ways for fans to interact with one another.

In my deep dive into Stan Twitter, I’ve become very familiar with the fan community and thought it would be very interesting to focus on some of Stan Twitter’s peculiarities, which, quite frankly, don’t exist anywhere else in the world.

Some of the most notable fan communities on Stan Twitter include K-Pop fans, One Direction fans, Barbz (the name for Nicki Minaj fans), and TV shows such as Avatar: The Last Airbender. However, there are so many fan bases for so many pieces of media that there is likely a Stan Twitter community for anything you can think of. There’s a stan community for the Beatles, a band that broke up in 1970.

First and foremost, one of the most interesting things about Stan Twitter is its specific lingo. Phrases commonly used include “oomf,” which means “one of my followers,” or “moots,” which stands for “mutuals”—Twitter users who both follow one another.

Alternatively, the “lingo” has created interesting conversations regarding the use of AAVE (African-American Vernacular English), which many consider being a form of cultural appropriation. Phrases like “chile” and “period” have been adopted by nonblack folks on Stan Twitter, and this is a huge point of contention. 

That brings me to one of the most well-known aspects of Stan Twitter: cancel culture. “Cancel culture” is a fascinating cultural occurrence. People who are thought to be problematic, perhaps due to something they’ve said, something they’ve tweeted, or a miscommunication, are “canceled.”

To “cancel” someone is to withdraw support from them publicly and urge others to do the same. Often, people will promote their favorites when someone else is canceled. 

Tweets about cancellation are often accompanied by “fancams” or edits. Fancams originated in K-Pop and are videos that include edited clips of celebrities that are attached under tweets for views.

Edits are similar; people manipulate the Twitter platform to accumulate views for them, but an edit is a bunch of different clips smashed together with a song. Sometimes, the terms “fancam” and “edit” are interchangeable, simply referring to a video that someone on Stan Twitter uses to try to get views for it. 

Some other quirks of Stan Twitter include its very high number of LGBTQ+ members in its community, left-leaning political views, people’s ability to flood the comments of somebody they dislike, and its legitimate cultural impact.

For example, in June, K-Pop stans foiled President Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, by acquiring nearly 20,000 fake tickets and then not showing up. Stan Twitter is also a huge hub for activism, with threads about various global issues spreading very quickly throughout communities.

After about five months on Stan Twitter, I’ve accumulated a rather large following, and amidst the pandemic, I’m sad to say that most of my social life has become my Twitter presence. I’ve met some of my very closest friends online during the last five months, and it has been a unique experience like no other.

Every morning I wake up to thirty notifications, but I also wake up to a crippling fear that before I went to sleep, I said something problematic and I will wake up and I will have been canceled. Despite my fears and anxiety surrounding the platform (I have cried more than once due to Twitter drama), I don’t regret it getting involved.

Stan Twitter has given me a social life during a time when I don’t have any other. During a pandemic, it is vital that we make connections with other people. And when most of the people you can find who share your interests are online, it may be worth it.

That said, I jokingly told my friend that if I’m still on here by the time I graduate from high school, they ought to cancel me, and then I can deactivate in peace.