The development of internet stan culture has now expanded beyond the entertainment industry and has landed in the middle of American politics.
This has presented a great danger, in that it prompts young voters to overlook the inevitable mistakes and wrong strides made by their “favorite” politicians.
Stan culture, which manifests primarily on Twitter, sees internet users called stans, a term used to describe super fans who border on obsession, gathering as a community to sing the praises of celebrities, mostly in the entertainment industry.
When this blind support finds its way to the political world, both those participating and those caught in the crossfire on their timelines tend to forget that politics are, more often than not, riddled with lies and disingenuousness, ultimately for the purpose of gaining a vote.
These days, the internet seems to have taken control of the political world, a change seen within the last decade that presents an endless array of possibilities. People reply to politicians’ tweets with memes and trend hashtags supporting or condemning certain figures or ideals.
Supporters are able to showcase their loyalty in various ways. Kamala Harris’ community of supporters refer to themselves as the #KHive. Some of Joe Biden’s remarks to Donald Trump during the first presidential debate have been displayed on merch in the forms of T-shirts, buttons, stickers and prayer candles featuring the faces of politicians such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are up for sale on Etsy.
This culture has launched a recent spread of performative activism, a practice which has made itself known online with trends, links and hashtags claiming to support various organizations.
However, in these cases, a post can often be considered more valuable than an action. Celebrities participate in trends and ask fans to donate to causes, but fail to do enough by themselves.
In certain instances, politicians will only support causes when it is beneficial to them and to their success, and ignore them otherwise. This hypocrisy is then spread across digital platforms, and young fans are influenced to do the same.
While a presentation of loyalty and support shouldn’t be looked down upon — it is the basis of election campaigns — the line should be drawn when one forgets who politicians really are: the people who will create our futures and run our country for the coming years.
Depending on your viewpoint and the vote that this viewpoint translates to, the safety of numerous groups of people could be threatened, and this fact may go unnoticed behind the curtain of stan culture.
In these states of blind support and loyalty, we forget that these people are, in fact, responsible for the lives of hundreds or thousands, for the futures of our sons and daughters and for the state of our country. Therefore, this seemingly harmless detachment from reality can prove to be threatening.
While stans primarily use social media to promote and uplift celebrities, when their idols are found to have made mistakes, it’s either completely overlooked or they are “canceled” — there is no in-between.
Cancel culture, along with stan culture, should never be brought into politics because it only contributes to the same blindness found in the form of support, although now, it is blind disdain.
If politicians show through their beliefs and activism that they have changed their ways and have taken the appropriate measures to become educated, a single mistake made by a politician years ago should not constitute the ending of their career.
Canceling only harms politics and gives voters an even more skewed viewpoint than what is already presented to them through left-wing and right-wing media.
The most important measure for young voters to take is to become educated, which can only be achieved by researching candidates through unbiased media. Although difficult to find, these resources exist and should be sought out in order to prevent the infiltration and dangerous influence of stan culture in politics.