The phrase comes from Eminem's hit song, Stan. The song describes a superfan that goes to extreme measures to prove his devotion to the singer.
These days, the phrase is slang for a very zealous fan, especially of a celebrity or music group.
One theory is that most of our relationships rely on empathy with people, meaning that we use our own experiences to relate to how we imagine other people feel. For this reason, knowing lots of details about a celebrity can cause a person to develop a heightened level of obsession.
In other words, if you feel like there's some missing information in your life, identifying with people in alternative forums can help.
Being drawn to a fan community can have positive and negative effects.
On the other hand, sharing a contrary opinion could lead to people being ostracised or bullied.
Studies found that if you don't feel as if you belong somewhere, it can lead to mental health problems. Fandom communities provide opportunities to avoid this.
But, only liking people that are 'like us' can lead to 'in-group bias', thinking everyone outside that group is wrong while people who are part of lots of friendship groups or communities tend to be quite open-minded.
People write continuations of stories with different endings, often to bring two characters together who they think should fall in love.
Once you have established a connection with a character or story, you can carry it on forever.
This deep obsession with celebrities can be beneficial for the people they're directed at, bolstering their careers and creating part of the brand. But when the affection turns to criticism, it can have real and lasting negative effects.
Cases of celebrities being stalked by fans can also be problematic as people believe they have a genuine relationship with these people because they know everything about their public image.
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