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with the rise in regular mass internet usage , we’ve seen many phenomena that were out of the norm become widely accepted. for example, apps like runpee, or the urge to show people what we eat every day through social media. one of the most confusing products of the internet, at least for me, is the inception of stan groups.

stanning is the act of idolizing people & worshipping a (usually famous) person. the term stems from eminem’s hit song, stan, that dives into the life of a fan who grew increasingly obsessed with eminem but never succeeded at getting his attention. the story ends with stan ending his own life. the term was popularized by artists such as nas, when he called jay-z his stan in ether.

another thing the internet brought was the ability to communicate with people with whom we share interests without ever actually meeting in real life. there’s no denying that celebrities had fans in the 20th century, but their fans never joined forces to become globally known cliques.

when you look at the biggest stan groups in the world, one thing that stands out is the fact that all the idols are musicians. music entertainers aren’t just selling their talents - they sell a certain persona and lifestyle. other celebrities might have popular fan bases, but they don’t meddle into their idols’ personal lives as much.

for example, i would argue that sport stans exist (otherwise how can you explain arsenal still having fans) but their fanaticism ends on the court/field.

music stans have been known to defend their idol, sometimes to extremes. take for example when beyonce’s sixth studio album dropped and we found out jay-z was cheating on her, the beyhive went on a hunt to find out who this mystery 'other' woman - becky with the good hair - could be. they assumed it was rachel roy due to an instagram caption, and proceeded to swarm her socials with comments.

but why do people do this? what do they gain from being a die hard stan?

simply put, they see their idols as an extension of themselves and they are aware of the power of numbers.

parasocial interaction, a term coined by horton and wohl in 1956, refers to a |psychological relationship experienced by an audience in their mediated encounters with performers in the mass media, particularly on television.|

since musicians are selling a persona, they usually have a group of people that relate to that persona, that see the celebrity as a reflection of themselves. like nicki minaj and her eccentric, unapologetic self expression. what they post for the world to see has to go hand in hand with the image they portray. we are captivated by the snapshots of their lives, and subconsciously start living through them.

idols are people who we aspire to be. by living through them, stans fill a void whether they know it exists or not. every song release, post or comment brings them an inexplicable fulfillment.

sometimes, stans also come together for the good of the community. bts stans, also known as the a.r.m.y, once crashed the dallas police department eyewitness app - whose purpose was for people to upload any footage of illegal activity during the blm protests - by flooding them with bts fan cams. they’ve also successfully raised millions for charity. being a part of a group that can make such an impact on the world is part of the appeal of stanning. knowing there's a tribe of people with whom you share interests and who will stop at nothing to achieve a common goal is an empowering and reassuring feeling.

some people think stans are weird. but to me, it all comes down to how you act. if your stanning is all about bullying people who sometimes disagree with your idol then that’s an issue. being a fan is normal, as mentioned before. admiring someone’s gifts is only natural, the issue comes in when we start over identifying with our idols. it is possible to enjoy the entertainment celebrities provide without living as an extension of them.

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