Microprocessing

Why Angry Taylor Swift Fans Lash Out Online

Fandom is all about community — even when it gets toxic

Angela Lashbrook
Published in
7 min readMay 8, 2019

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Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty

In Microprocessing, columnist Angela Lashbrook aims to improve your relationship with technology every week. Microprocessing goes deep on the little things that define your online life today, to give you a better tomorrow.

Last week, I made a huge mistake. I tweeted something negative about Taylor Swift’s new single.

It was only 10 minutes or so before the Swifties found me. I counted them — 50 total Twitter users, 45 of whom identified themselves as fans in their bios, handles, banner photos, or profile photos. That isn’t a huge number as Twitter warfare goes, but at the time it felt like an army, a massive swarm of pastel-clad, smiling blondes descending upon me.

Some accused me of being bitter. One sarcastically thanked me for promoting the song. Another told me I couldn’t even “make the front page” (of what, I’m unsure) while Taylor’s song shot to number one on the charts. (I will concede that Taylor Swift’s career is doing better than mine.) Several accused me of being sexist, and others were genuinely funny, like the one from the Taylor Swift fan, also known as a Swifty, who said, “Sis she’s been with the same man for 3 years. Your last date was a stained futon and ramen.” (I’ve been in a relationship for nine years and, blessedly, no longer have a futon — just a couch that I really hate.)

The tweets were generally harmless, but they were a nuisance, like walking through a cloud of gnats at the park. And, I thought, I couldn’t relate at all to the people who sent them. Why did they define their entire Twitter presence by this one pop star? Why were they so upset that I, a self-professed fan, didn’t like her newest song? What compelled them to flock to their idol’s defense…

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Angela Lashbrook
OneZero

I’m a columnist for OneZero, where I write about the intersection of health & tech. Also seen at Elemental, The Atlantic, VICE, and Vox. Brooklyn, NY.