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Why Stan Culture Should Change: An Open Letter From The Honey POP

Why Stan Culture Should Change: An Open Letter From The Honey POP

Passion is a powerful emotion. It can ignite and unify us. It can, when focused properly, change the world. And, when that passion finds an outlet in music or theater, you can find a beautiful space filled with like-minded people all working towards a common good. That’s stan culture.

Or it should be. The same passions that unify us also have the power to give us tunnel vision. That tunnel vision can divide us. Because instead of recognizing that passion in others who found their passion in something else, we allow it to pit ourselves against each other.

We are not clicks. We are not views. We are not streams. We are not fan accounts. We are not the competition. We are people. People with a passion. People with feelings. People who feel just like you do about the people you stan.

Changing the way we view each other is a huge step towards changing the way that stan culture currently functions. Seeing past your specific fandom and recognizing that there are real people just like you in other fandoms is the first step towards becoming something better.

Practicing kindness, understanding, and compassion – for celebrities and fans alike – is crucial to our own humanity. When we lose our ability to have empathy, we lose our right to have it shown back to us.

This month, The Honey POP decided to run a fan poll on ‘The Song of the Summer.’ We, a team of over 100 people, each nominated a song we loved because we figured you would, too. It was a fan run, fan voted poll with no reward.

In our naïveté, we did not realize that the stan culture mindset would turn it into something ugly. But, it did. Something that should have just become opinion and a fun distraction from quarantine, and the misery that 2020 has been, turned into something that was bigger than we could fathom.

At first we were thrilled. We’re small. A baby site. We celebrated our victory that our readers, the fans, wanted to engage with us. Then the passion turned sour. The site broke from all the traffic, and the anger and outrage on social media turned dark.

Frustration in such a dark year is common and understood. But when combined with the passion of stan culture, our team — fans just like you — people just like you — became targets of such an overwhelming wave of hatred and vitriol that a member of our team had to ask for help.

The people on this team are not journalists. The entire premise of this site is to give fans a voice. Together we speak to you about why our mindsets need to change.

Deidre Wilcox-Adams:

I have a love/hate relationship with stan culture. I love the fact that so many people can connect and come together just from a person, group, or even a show. I have made so many friends and connections from being in group chats or just simply interacting with someone. While things are meant to be a fun safe space for some, it can also be harmful and hurtful to others.

A simple comment or interaction can change things drastically and fast, which is where we need to realize what we say can be harmful and hurtful. Being a “stan” of many artists and groups over the past few years, I have watched things that were meant to fun turn to something so toxic, not only for the fans but for artists as well, to the point where they no longer feel safe to interact with their fans online.

We, as fans, need to come together and fix it. It can start just by simply keeping hurtful comments to yourself. If you see something that’s harmful to others say something, not to be hurtful back, but simply to be informative. I have seen so many people, including close friends be attacked over mistakes.

All of us at THP realize mistakes happen. As professionals we try our best to make this a fun, enjoyable, safe space not only for our contributors, but for fans as well. Please realize that we try our best to make things perfect and fun for everyone. We listen to what you have to say. Realize that we have feelings also. This is a learning experience for everyone and we as fans, must come together to make positive changes and continue to move forward.

Tara Demers:

Fans are supposed to be supporting their favorite band, idol, a person. Nobody deserves to be told things that harms what they are feeling and their mental health. Stans need to realize, they are not the only ones around and hating on another stan is not okay. It does not matter if you do not like them. They are human.

Brooke Gray:

So often fans get too deep into the personal lives of the people they stan, and sometimes it feels like they start to stan the people around their idols instead of their actual idols, which can be okay in some situations but for the most part, why are we digging so far into their personal lives? They’re human and they deserve to be treated like one. Another thing with humans is that they grow and change, and we need to realize that while they may have made mistakes in their past, it doesn’t mean they’ll make the same mistakes again and that they aren’t sorry. Stanning should be more about being supportive, if you stan musicians, then stream their music as much as you can and enjoy it. Being a stan has somehow changed so much but what needs to be changed is that we need to be more supportive. Of the people we stan, and of the other people on stan twitter. After all, being a stan is being a huge fan, so being actual fans is important.

Jodie Rose-Loren:

Stan culture has its positives and negatives. But lately it is safe to say the negatives have far outweighed any positivity that I see on my timeline.

Assumptions, abuse, things being taken out of context, and manipulation has become a common theme and made me want to avoid social media if I am honest. Until recently I had a larger Twitter account, where I regularly spoke and participated with fandoms I am in, but the toxicity grew so bad. Even as an outsider looking in, that I deactivated, and I am now on a new account with a smaller space, to speak with friends and that’s it. And I consider that a healthy thing to do if you need to. If things get too crazy or too much for you, take time away, and do what is best for you.

I have seen friends of mine bullied, dragged, subtweeted some vile things, things no one should say to another human. I have seen outright lies, and friends of mine get to the point where they have needed support from lifelines or relapsed. This is not okay.

What is often forgotten, is that we are here to support and hype up our faves. That is why we are here, to stan them. Not tear each other down.

Sometimes, I remember the saying my Grandfather told me, ‘If you have nothing nice to say, do not say anything at all.’ And it rings true. If you do not have the ability to project positivity and love out with your platform, maybe reconsider before you hit that send button. Add it to your drafts, think before you speak.

What may seem simple words to you could tear someone else apart.

Also remember the people you stan, do you really think they would support or endorse such behavior? Of course not.

Danielle King:

The thing about stan culture is that it’s supposed to be a remarkable safe space where you can join forces with people who love artists as much as you. While it can be that for a lot of people, there are times that it turns toxic. We as a whole, as fans, as people need to fix it.

Behind the stans, behind the keyboard, are real genuine people. People with fears, feelings, and emotions just like you exist behind this. No one should use this culture to invalidate feelings, attack one another, or just make people feel like shit.

Feelings are always warranted, and no one wants to feel unjustified. Whether you’re sad, upset, or hurt about something, nothing makes it right to put that hurt onto other people, other sites.

Trying to remain professional when triggered is not an easy task for anyone, and certainly not for myself. We are aware, we are learning, and we are going to make a change to toxicity in stan culture.

As our fans, friends, and favorites, we have to all come together to make it happen.

Marhesha Maldonado:

Stan culture has such potential, the potential to get your favorite artist to the top, to help them win awards and to help have a supportive community to share your love for your favorite artist.

But the more and more time I spend online, trying to simply express my love for my favorite artists, stan twitter culture swoops in and reminds me of how toxic of an environment it can be.

Twitter as a platform has the ability to connect us with each other and our favorite artist, the ability for them to talk to us and share things with us. But so many are now leaving this platform because of their own fans.

Here at THP we try our hardest to equally represent the many fandoms we are all in, but we have only been doing this magazine thing since October and each article, tweet and piece of coverage offers us a lesson and the ability to improve as we continue our magazine journey.

I think it’s hard for people to realize real people are behind the many Twitter accounts and even publications that they follow and see on their timelines every day. And these articles and projects are like our babies that we are sharing into the world. Of course, we take all of your feedback and feelings seriously but being threatened and spoken down on hurts real people, and it’s important for everyone to realize that.

Andersley Renelus:

My experience with stan Twitter is not the best. Although I have made so many amazing best friends who stand by me and help me in times of trouble, This does not change the fact that Twitter has broken me down mentally. So. Many. Times. Whether it’s taking a break or deleting my account and starting over, I never found a way to get away from cruel things I see on stan Twitter. The toxicity I’ve seen within stan culture is like no other.

I have not been on all of stan twitter so I’m going to stick to what I know and speak on the 5SOSFam. I’m honestly flabbergasted by the hate circling this fandom. In just the span of 2 years I’ve seen countless death threats, and outright cyberbullying to not just fans, but the members of the band and their significant others. A word so simple as “sossie” has taken me and turned me inside out. You’re on watch 24/7 with what you say and how you act. This is not right and it needs to stop.

The fact that THP was trying to have a fun poll up to get fandoms to work together in voting for their faves and it turned into something so serious and toxic is not ok. Stan culture is great and all, but the toxicity needs to cease.

Turn the hate into love and be there for one another. Your words can damage others in ways you’d never imagine. Remember that.

Dakota Ash:

We throw so much of our passions and love into people we barely know. People who have their own lives, their own struggles and are only one person. One person can only be spread so thin before it is bad for their mental health. Being famous or a celebrity comes with less privacy. They’re human. Imagine if you were in their shoes. Not the money or fame but the paparazzi and cameras. People questioning your every move. It’s hard.

Mentally draining.

On the other side of that coin, at the same time, we throw our hate at people we could learn to know. Fans just like you that found salvation, found happiness in a common band, musician, or artist. The internet gives people so much power.

With great power comes great responsibility. Great power can lead to the greatest evil or the greatest good. Behind every screen is a human being.
The world is crazy right now and we’re heavily divided. Fans, music, and all things to stan should be a place to escape to not somewhere to abuse others and lash out.

We fight because we are passionate, but we don’t have to fight each other.

Empathy, compassion, understanding. That’s truly missing in the world. It’s our generation that could change things. Love and vulnerability are hard but they make for much warmer company.

Stan culture needs to change.

Sophie McCarthy:

I’ll keep this short and sweet, stan twitter has introduced me to so many people that have saved my life. But now, it is so full of toxicity and it needs to change. We all love going on Twitter to interact with our faves as well as our friends but over this year I’ve stopped interacting with most people altogether.

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We all need to remind ourselves that there are real people behind other accounts. We all need to take a minute to stop and think if we would speak to someone with such ill intent in real life. But most of all we need to treat people with kindness.

Elizabeth Motley:

The problem with stan culture is that we are quick to judge and hard to forgive. I love being part of a fandom, but when someone slips up (which everyone does, because we are all human and we make mistakes, we aren’t just accounts online), they get hate before they can even defend themselves. Were this a real jury and someone had done something wrong, they’d be given a chance to prove themselves innocent, so why doesn’t that concept exist online too? A lot of the times someone is “cancelled” they haven’t even done anything wrong. We are quick to support the person who points the finger but what happened to innocent until proven guilty? Until stan culture realizes this, it’s hard to want to be an active part of a fandom when you are ridiculed for just one mistake.

Christian Aguilar-Garcia:

To preface, I am in no way an expert on social media etiquette. I make no claims as to any supposed prowess on the topic of stan culture nor the various forms of fandom that exist in that great big wild world out there. I am simply speaking on the observations that I have personally witnessed.

That being said, I can at minimum attest to the extent at which fandoms can influence us to make poor decisions on behalf of what we generally consider positive objectives. We stan because we love something more than we can at times express properly.

See, stan culture as a whole can produce and influence some incredible results in the way that we interact with a variety of individuals; be it the objects of our adorations, communities that represent ourselves, or the interactions we have with one another. When in good hands, stan culture can move mountains and give people a sense of agency within their communities.

It is with that concept in mind that consideration for others should come into play. At the end of the day, people will defend the things they love, and sometimes that dedication can cloud the way we interpret things and the emotions of one another.

Stan culture is special for two very unique reasons. It can uplift a community with positivity and act as a space for like-minded individuals to come together. On the opposite end, stan culture has the capacity to become toxic in ways that are incomprehensibly volatile.

Ultimately, I see the passion and I see the purpose behind stan culture.
But what we need most of all in any fandom is acceptance and solidarity.

Aman Shamim:

I have more or less been a part of stan culture for a significant portion of my life and no matter what group, what artist, what celebrity it is, I’ve noticed a couple of things that never change.

People seem to forget that behind every tweet and post, there’s a real life person with feelings, who sees what’s being said. This goes for both the person being stanned and the stans themselves. It’s great that we have spaces where we can connect with other people who love our faves as much as we do, but sometimes people forget where to draw the line. I’ve seen some of the most toxic behaviors in the stan community, with people trying to justify their poor treatment of others by saying it’s in the name of defending their faves. News flash, it’s okay to be upset and disappointed, it’s not okay and is never justified to use those feelings to viciously attack your fellow stans.

Twitter is great, stan culture can be great, but if you’re so involved with stan culture that you forget how to be a decent human being while interacting with your favorite artists and your fellow fans, then you need to step back and take a look at yourself in the mirror. This goes for myself first and foremost but it’s something I think we all need to remember.

And don’t take this as me hating on stan culture. I’m a part of stan culture and I see all the good that can come from it. I have so many friends and so many positive memories/interactions from stan twitter. I know that we have the ability to do better and I believe that we can. We should all be able to enjoy the stan culture space and get back to what it’s really about: showcasing our love for our favorite artists and celebrities. That requires letting things go sometimes, think about how your faves would react before sending that harsh tweet or message, think about how you would feel being on the receiving end. Remember that we’re all real people behind the screens at the end of the day and we should all do our best to be considerate of that

Image source: Matt Grow

Rachel Collucci:

I’ve been a part of stan Twitter for about nine years now, and being a part of it has shaped me as a person. I see so many passionate people in the fandoms I am in, and the incredible things that we as fans have accomplished. On most days, I love it.

However, like with many things, there is a dark side to stan culture. Sometimes that passion can be directed to the wrong people and for the wrong reasons. Sometimes, it can be hurtful, and while we may think nothing of the words we type behind a screen, they carry more weight than we realize. The people behind stan accounts are real people, and sometimes we get caught up in what is going on and blindly want to support our idols, that in the end, we end up hurting people. There has been a new trend, it seems, to try and cancel and expose one another. We’ve gone from focusing on our idols to focusing on other fans, and it’s become too much.

Stan Twitter, at its heart, is supposed to be fun. These platforms were created to be a safe space for those who didn’t have one in their real lives. It was meant to be a way for fans to connect over something they loved and support their favorite musicians. Over the years, it has slowly become more and more toxic, and it is heartbreaking to see.

I recently deleted one of my old stan accounts, because of how the fandom I was in had turned into a place that made me feel bad about myself. I still love and support the artists (and always will), but I couldn’t be apart of the internet fandom anymore. I knew I had to delete my account before it ruined how I perceived the groups I love, which I have seen happen to too many fans. The fact that it still happens and no one sees a problem with it is truly a shame.

We need a stan culture to change. Too many people have gotten hurt by it. People make mistakes, and people have good and bad days. No one is perfect, no matter how hard we try to be. We need to stop hating one another, start supporting each other and getting back to the heart of why we are here, which is the love we have for our idols.

We are fandom. We are stans. We are you. And as we express our hurt, outrage, frustration and shock at the place that this has landed, we stand together as a group – united in our belief that it doesn’t have to be this way.

Regardless of who you stan or why, you have the power to change the way others view you, your fandom, and your fave. Your words have real power. You could change the world.

And you could start that change with a count to ten before responding to someone you don’t agree with.



Find us on our Socials. We love friends:

If you think you’d like to join us in changing stan culture, and in sharing information on your favorite artists in a positive way, click here. We’d love to have you. THP are fans, but we’re more than that. We are family.

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