The internet. It’s a place that has it all. It provides you with fun, creativity, innovation… and a warped sense of reality.
When I was younger, maybe nine or ten, I was first introduced to the internet through the app Musically, which would later become the must-have app Tiktok. That app, like many social media apps, was an incredibly diverse place. It had videos of people dancing and lip-syncing, and weird challenges that were so outrageously entertaining, you HAD to watch all videos under the hashtag. It was, for the most part, a great thing to be a part of.
But, of course, social media is in its most basic form, brain rot.
Do not get me wrong: I am in no way attacking all users of such platforms. I just admitted to being one. However, there is a limit to online behavior. It is no secret that social media has been incredibly damaging to practically every user and usually has more harmful effects than beneficial ones. But that warrants its own discussion.
Instead, I will devote all my focus to perhaps the most psychologically harmful corner of the internet: Stan Twitter.
Urban dictionary, the most reliable source on the internet, defines Stan Twitter as “a section of Twitter that is composed of cult-like-fandoms that worship popular artists or artist groups.” Any teenager or frequent internet peruser would know that this definition captures the essence of Stan Twitter to the T.
My first experience with Stan Twitter featured “cancel culture.” It’s nearly impossible to remember who was being canceled – Stan Twitter cancels anyone who goes against whomever they wholeheartedly support. Typically, a hater will be canceled or bombarded with awful tweets under a dedicated hashtag.
It may seem that perhaps a few nasty tweets are not enough to justify Stan Twitter as the worst place on the internet. Not to worry: unfortunately, that would be the tamest of usual actions.
Most notably, fans of certain artists will go so far as to release the private information of an adversary, including their address, place of work, or the school they go to.
The most interesting feature of Stan Twitter would be their incredible motivation to defend a famous person. Most might assume must be some pragmatic reason for constantly attacking all opposition of a person you do not know, but there is not. Instead, the psychological explanation is parasocial relationships.
According to the National Register of Health Service Psychologists, parasocial relationships are “one-sided relationships, where one person extends emotional energy, interest and time, and the other party, the persona, is completely unaware of the other’s existence.” Simply put, how one person adores the other to the point of obsession can essentially create a one-sided relationship, though the other person is unaware of it. With the consumption of incredible amounts of media by a celebrity, these parasocial relationships are created, leading to the blind defending of the person they are in this parasocial relationship with.
The human mind tricks people into believing they have some sort of connection to another person, when the reality is that they truly do not. Stan Twitter is the internet space where people in parasocial relationships dwell, banding together with other superfans to succeed in defending, and in most cases harming any opposition.
It is important to recognize the behavior of such a place like Stan Twitter. Though it’s okay to be a fan of someone, Stan Twitter constantly crosses the line.