• Friday, September 29, 2023
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Celebrity trolls: The Nigerian toxic online stan culture

Celebrity trolls: The Nigerian toxic online stan culture

These days almost every Nigerian music artist has a dedicated legion of fans. From Davido’s 30BG to Burna Boys Outsiders, to Wizkid FC. Although stan has been used to describe many groups in the past, the word has come to mean so much more in today’s cultural landscape

Recently, Nigerian Singer, Davido had seemingly threatened to deal with a fan who insinuated that his Son, Ifeanyi is actually Peruzzi’s.

In a post, a Twitter user with the handle @Mista_Mdee had tweeted; “Using Peruzzi’s child as an Album cover doesn’t guarantee success. Low-key e don stain that little boy white with that disaster he called an album!!!”

Davido slammed the fan for referencing his son in the tweet and threatened to deal with him. Davido also warned fans not to mention his children on social media if they were going to mock or insult him. “Say all you want about Davido but do not mention my children,” the singer tweeted.

@Mista_mdee who supposedly is a Wizkid stan according to findings by BusinessDay took the tweet down but the damage had already been done and a livid Davido also shared a photo of the fan on his page.

‘Stan’ Originates from a song of the same name on Eminem’s 2000 album ‘The Marshall Mathers LP. The American rapper sings about a fan’s sick obsession with him, and how the character meets a tragic end as a result of that.

The song spent 15 weeks on the billboard 100 charts and since then has become a classic and the word ‘Stan’ added to the Oxford living dictionary defined as ‘an overzealous or obsessive fan of a particular celebrity’

In an interview describing Stan’s behavior, Donna Rockwell, a clinical psychologist, explained that everyone wants someone to look up to and imitate after admiring how they present themselves to the world and desiring to be like them.

However, the Nigerian stan culture has become rather poisonous, with anyone who criticizes your favorite celebrity being loathed regardless if the person may have had a positive opinion of the celebrity in the past.

It sometimes reaches a point where they not only despise competing celebrities, but also their families, parents, and children alike, and occasionally wish them harm while tweeting about them online which has regrettably become standard practice during internet stan wars.

These obsessive behaviors have been described by psychologists as ‘celebrity worship syndrome’ a type of parasocial relationship that occurs when admiration of a celebrity shifts into an obsessive fascination and preoccupation. Though it’s not a clinically recognized condition, it’s been described as an obsessive-addictive disorder.

Speaking with BusinessDay, Oyinkansola Oladipupo, a Clinical Psychologist, explain that the term originates from unconscious social media learning and the inability to distinguish reality from fantasy, with people believing that what celebrities put up for show online is an accurate representation of how they are in real life.

Oladipupo also spoke of ‘erotomania’ a relatively uncommon paranoid condition that is characterized by an individual’s delusion of another person, relating it to these obsessive fans.

“ This is basically explained as someone interested in someone who doesn’t even know they exist. To explain briefly the delusion of reference, the person may believe that everything the person is doing is subtly or subliminally passing an intention to date them or even marry them,” Oladipupo stated.

She also gave reference to the family background which could cause a possible case of low-self esteem.

“What might most likely be the case for most of these people is that they have vulnerability due to dysfunctional families, have suffered abuse, and have low self-esteem so they crave attention and they will want to create avenues for it any way possible,” she said.

Read also: The cons of social media may outweigh its pros in Nigeria (II)

Social media and online activity have played a huge part in how fandom has changed over the last few decades. Oladipupo explains how the frequent scrolling and online presence and engagement are addictive and give rise to toxic stan culture.

“Addiction does not only involve substance, gambling, or eating; it also involves scrolling. There is something called the happy hormones dopamine and serotonin which are released to the brain when we do the things that make us happy. The brain sends information back that scrolling makes the person happy until the person has spent hours on it,” she said.

She also connects social media, influence, and how Google can comprehend and integrate a person’s search history and interests into their feed, making them feel happy whenever they log into those pages.

“When a fan keeps searching for Davido over and over again, the person begins to live, breathe and sing Davido. Because that is all they are seeing, hearing, and listening to, their brain interprets that as the persons’ happy place that connects the dots between Davido and happiness. So it’s basically not about Davido, it is about social media and the power of influence,” Oladipupo adds.

Nigerian stan culture extends beyond music artists to movie stars, influencers, YouTubers, and personalities from reality television series such as Big Brother Naija (BBN).

Mercy Eke, Natacha Akide (Tacha), Olamilekan Agbeleshebioba (Laycon), and Erica Nlewedim, all from the show but from different seasons, have established a fanbase who go online to troll rival celebrities or set up donations to gift these celebrities with exotic gifts as a result of their time on the show and influence.

Most of these online fan communities now give themselves names in order to establish some type of identity, making it nearly hard to ignore them.

Supporters of BBN’s reality show contestant Tacha refer to themselves as Titans, Icons refer to fans of BBN 2021 winner Laycon, Mercenaries belong to fans of BBN 2020 winner Mercy, and “The Elites” refer to Erica’s fandom.

We want to feel like we are not alone on the planet, we want to feel a sense of kinship, a sense of community, a sense of connection,” Rockwell added.