Dark Downside of Stan Culture

The word stan is said to have two origins, both of which have the same meaning. Origin one is just the combination of the words β€œstalker” and β€œfan,” which describes how these people treat their idols. Origin two comes from the song β€œStan” by Eminem, following the story of a crazed fan who is so obsessed with the rapper that he kills his pregnant girlfriend in his honor. While most β€œstans” aren’t that gruesome, they definitely do have their moments of going a bit over the line with their actions.

While we know that stan culture is problematic, as the years go by it has scarily gotten more toxic. We have disconnected celebrities’ realities from our own. We no longer see them as human but as a factory that pushes out content for our own entertainment. With this unfair idolization, we no longer pay attention to the effects that our obsessive behaviors may have on the artist. 

As we all know, social media has been used to bash, belittle, and pick apart celebrities. It isn’t rare to see a twitter thread or an instagram story talking about a celebrity’s appearance. Coi Leray is too skinny, Lizzo is too fat, Megan Thee Stallion is too masculine (like what?), and Cardi B is too sexual. It isn’t easy to live under a microscope. These words you say online about these people matter. If you went online and saw an abundance of posts pointing out your biggest insecurity over and over, wouldn’t you feel miserable? Lets use kindergarten rules, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all!

Parasocial relationships are one-sided relationships, usually between a celebrity and a fan, where one person invests emotional time and energy into the other, when the other person isn’t even aware of their existence.

These relationships have become way more prevalent in our generation. It is helpful to remember that although you know these celebrities and their content, they don’t know you. You guys are not friends. And most importantly, they don’t owe you anything. They are not obligated to interact with you, to explain why they are on hiatus, or to reveal personal information about themselves to you. They are human beings who deserve respect and privacy, just as much as we do.

Sadly, a lot of stans have made emotional connections to these celebrities. It isn’t rare to look into a comment section on any social media platform and see someone say something along the lines of β€œthis person helped me through the darkest times of my life” or β€œI was contemplating ending it all but I found [input celebrity name]’s music/art/content.” In the worst case scenario, if stans feel wronged by the celebrity, they threaten to harm themselves or even attempt suicide.

It doesn’t help that we disregard these peoples struggles and emotions, all because of the fact that they have money or fame. We turn these celebrities into manufactured robots for our own entertainment. When we see them as a product, we strip their humanity away. Then we make fun of them when they are publicly crying for help. It took until this last year for people to realize how evil we were to Britney Spears during her public meltdown.

There is a stigma around celebrities getting help for their mental health. This often leads to reliance on  drugs, alcohol, or other destructive habits, to cope with the emotions. And in the most distressing case, it can lead to suicide. 

Whether or not celebrities keep their mental health struggles in the dark or go public with them, there will always be a negative reaction. Fans will act shocked and offended to hear that their favorite star has gotten admitted for their addiction or have passed away because of the pressures and struggles of being a celebrity, i.e John Mulaney, Kim Jonghyun, Moon Bin, Mac Miller.

While cancel culture has gotten out of control, it has helped to hold internet trolls accountable for their actions. People need to remember that whatever you put on the internet stays on the internet. That warning doesn’t only relate to celebrities. Stans need to be careful as to what they leave as their digital footprint.

Overall, treat people the way that you want to be treated. We shouldn’t take away people’s humanity the second they become a celebrity because if you were in their shoes, you would want the same compassion and respect that they’re asking for.