The internet is home to many obsessive fan bases — but you’ve never seen one like this before. Now the Post Office has its own stans.
Yes, you heard that right. The internet’s latest obsession is none other than the United States Post Office (USPS), as teens around the country are stanning postal workers and those iconic blue boxes.
What started as a strategic move to celebrate the U.S. institution allegedly under attack by the Trump administration has morphed into an entirely different beast: Stan culture — the kind of all-consuming fandom that takes its name from combining “stalker” and “fan” — at its finest.
Social media has been buzzing with support for the USPS since it was targeted by the Trump administration for cuts and restructuring. While new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said the changes were implemented to make the Postal Service more efficient, President Donald Trump recently said that funding was being blocked to prevent mail-in voting, which he has long railed against and believes would benefit Democrats, according to AP.
Activists in many states are pushing to expand mail-in-ballots as the coronavirus threatens participation in the upcoming 2020 presidential election. The Trump administration’s changes have reportedly included removing sorting machines, which could cripple the ability to handle an influx of ballots and cause important mail — from ballots to prescription medication — to pile up.
In response, Democrats in Congress have called on DeJoy to testify before the House and have vowed to protect the Postal Service. But outside the Capital Building halls, social media users have been going above and beyond to show their support of the American institution, usually in meme format.
Memes about the best ways to save the “boys in blue” have been inundating social media in the past few days, hijacking hashtags normally reserved to support police officers.
These are the boys in blue that matter pic.twitter.com/ezkNj99n7K
— ???? ???????????????????????????????????? ???????????????? ???? (@Its_Planty) August 9, 2020
Beyond memes, some supporters have started Post Office fan cams.
A fancam is a short and quickly edited video, usually focusing on a singer from a popular group and popularized by K-pop fan culture. While the style of video has since been applied to actors, TV stars, and even famous politicians, the Post Office’s inclusion is not typical.
fuck it. USPS fancam. pic.twitter.com/jKTwIjS3Sk
— taylor???????? (@ScribblnTaylor) August 15, 2020
“I couldn’t tell you exactly when I first heard [about the Post Office controversy] because we’ve been dealing with the topic of mail-in-ballots for pretty much this entire pandemic, but this past month especially, I feel like it’s been impossible to ignore,” said Taylor, an 18-year-old artist from Southern California and the creator of Twitter’s biggest Post Office fancam. “As an artist, I have many close friends who rely on the USPS to run their businesses/stay afloat, so it’s definitely a really scary time for all of us right now. I figured a fancam would be a way to bring a little bit of awareness, but also make some people laugh.”
Her video reached more than “some people.” As of Monday, Taylor’s USPS fancam has over 176,000 likes, and has close to 61,000 retweets and comments, marking the video as decidedly viral for an account with less than 5,000 followers.
“I figured it might get a little bit of traction, but I didn’t realize it was going to do some numbers until I posted it and it took off,” she told Digital Trends.
And hers isn’t the only one.
Of course, this isn’t the first time stan culture has touched modern politics.
Since the advent of meme culture, political accounts on both sides of the aisle have long tried to skew fandom culture in their favor, creating recognizable political groups like Bernie Bros or the #KHive (for fans of Democratic VP candidate Kamala Harris).
But its rare to see such obsessive support for an institution as normally innocuous as the Postal Service.
At the end of the day, the fate of the USPS won’t be decided because of a viral fancam, but young users on Twitter and TikTok creating their own content around the Post Office shows a growing sense of political awareness among younger constituents.
And while there is no evidence that inclusion in stan culture contributes to real votes, it does prove that the creators know enough about current political topics to tap into a popular awareness.
“I think Gen Z has realized how exactly to grab people’s attention,” Taylor said. “Meme culture, especially with its potential vitality, provides such a large platform for activism, so it’s no wonder our generation has used it to their advantage.”