Super fans have been around for decades, but in the age of social media, a new term has arisen to describe the people who dedicate their lives to supporting different celebrities: stans.
Since it’s rise, the Internet has cultivated a culture where teens can be who they want to be and find their voice to speak out. Those who might not feel comfortable sharing their interests with people in real life can have a place to talk with others who they have things in common with.
Stan culture creates a space for those who feel like they might not be able to express themselves in real life, and they can meet others who they would not otherwise be able to.
The most important aspect of fandom is the community it forms. Millions of people from all over the world band together over their shared love of one thing. The bonds formed from this space are free of judgement based on any physical characteristics, class or social status. Through screens, people can express their opinions and show sides of themselves that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to in real life.
The community formed through the love of idols and culture can give teens a place where they feel comfortable and at home, despite what might be going on outside in their life.
The friendships formed through fandom can be incredibly pure as a result of the ignorance of the person’s real life persona. Outside of the internet, the first impression of a person is based on appearance or status. Online, these aspects of a person are not always shown. When all judgements are taken away, a person can be shown for who they are and bonds can be formed over the common interests that are shared with someone who they maybe wouldn’t have befriended in real life.
Critics of stan culture say that it can be toxic, and the idea that an artist can do no wrong is unhealthy. Some stans have been known to launch into abusive attacks on anyone who criticizes their celebrity. While parts of stan culture can be like this, most stans just want a place to express their love for someone they admire or has helped them through tough times.
The mentality of stan culture can be mob-like. For stans, there is no right or wrong, there is only what they believe is right. Their community thinks as one, and no arguments can be made to prove them wrong. Although this can cause conflict between people with differing opinions, stans are harmless, and are mostly young people who have found a place where they feel like they belong.
It’s easy to write off stan culture as toxic when stories of fans ganging up on anyone who they disagree with come up. While every group of stans can have problems and people who give them a bad name, most stans just want a place to express their love for who they idolize. In any fandom, there are good and bad people, but if the negative aspects of stan culture are ignored, it can be something to be celebrated.