Tag Archives: fandom

Twitter Slang: “Drinking from the mother lake”


FC: “There’s a saying, when someone serves seismically, you say that they drank from the mother lake. And the mother lake’s not a real lake, believe it or not. It’s kind of a metaphorical, symbolic source of power for, like, motherly behavior. And motherly behavior, anyone who serves, who delivers some sort of jaw-dropping performance, piece of media, they’re mother. They’re queen, they support me, they nurse me. And in order to gain those powers, that ability, they had to drink from the mother lake. The primordial source of power.”


The informant is a 20-year-old college student from St. Louis, Missouri who has been using Twitter since his early teens. He describes the community he occupies on the app as “stan Twitter,” which is an online community of young people who bond over their fandom for certain musical artists or pop culture interests. Stan Twitter has a specific sense of humor and vernacular, much of which is derived from the cultural practices of the LGBTQ community, of which which many members of the online subculture are members. Black drag queens in particular are responsible for the creation and proliferation of much of the language employed by stan Twitter users.

“It’s very common to talk about celebrities, music icons as, you know, people say “queen” and a lot of that comes from LGBTQ slang, like drag slang,” FC said. He believes that the term “mother,” a reverential term colloquially applied to usually female artists whose work an individual finds exceptional or resonant, was taken from drag and ballroom culture. Since many people involved in these subcultures found themselves alienated from or rejected by their families because of their queerness, drag houses and drag families, or communities of queer people and drag performers, substituted as the kind of support networks which traditional families usually provide. In these groups, “there’s always a mother of the drag family who is the most experienced queen or ballroom performer with the most knowledge and experience to share,” FC said. “They are just held on a very high pedestal and their abilities and servery is applauded, and I think that’s a lot of where ‘mother’ comes from.”

FC described how stan Twitter humor often involves taking one foundational joke or vernacular element, and continually modulating it into absurd derivations. He thinks that the term “drinking from the mother lake” formed through this process, beginning with trends of calling artists “queen” and “mother” and coming up with increasingly extreme, peculiar, and culturally specific ways to express this same admiration.


         This slang term, and slang used on stan Twitter in general, is deeply grounded in LGBTQ history and identity. Young people on this platform connect with previous generations of queer people by using their language and traditions, arguably creating a community or uniting people of queer identities through common experiences or a common culture. Moreover, stan Twitter users form a community by fostering common interests, a sense of humor, and a vernacular style often derived from culturally specific references. To understand the linguistic traditions used by this community, one must understand what the lingo refers to and how humor functions on the platform. Someone’s ability to employ these vernacular traditions, communicate, be funny, or find others funny identifies them as a member of the community, as a member of the in-group, and provides the opportunity to bond with others who share interests and experiences.

The collaborative process by which this slang term evolved strikes me as particularly folkloric. There is no individual author, instead, people add onto each other’s versions, with different derivations branching off and becoming popular in different circles. With every iteration, a new dimension of strangeness and cultural specificity is added, so appreciation for a song or an artist can be expressed by saying that such artist “drank from the mother lake.”

Rose Christo and the My Immortal Authorship Debate

My Immortal is a Harry Potter fan fiction that um is famously very bad. It trended and was popularized because of how famously awful it was. And one of the aspects that made it very popular in addition to its awfulness was that nobody knew who the author was. And for years in fan fiction it was a form of folklore *subject winks* who the author of My Immortal was, and people thought we’d never get the answer. But one morn….one week in 2017 a woman on Tumblr claimed that she was the author of My Immortal, and that her name was Rose Christo, and that she wrote My Immortal to be intentionally bad so it would become popular so she could reconnect with her long-lost brother who she was separated from in foster care. She made a bunch of wild claims in addition to that, um, like how in her foster care she was, she was abused for being Native American before it was revealed that she was a white woman completely lying, having never been in foster care. Um, to this day it’s still not known whether she actually wrote My Immortal, because she did have documents hinting that she did. But we do know that she was lying about all of her reasons for writing it.”


This is one of my favorite pieces of internet folklore. The author has gone through many permutations, from the screen name of XXXbloodyrists666XX to Tara Gilesbie to Rose Christo to once again a big question mark. Additionally, there’s the fact that it reportedly got deleted of of fan fiction.net, the original hosting site, twice. It’s one of the first pieces of internet folklore I can remember hearing about as a young teenager, after it’s deletion but before Rose Christo came out as the “author,” so I got to watch her rise and fall in real time. It’s certainly interesting — who would make the claim to be the author of such a notoriously bad piece of work? It’s fascinating to keep up with, and I’m eager to see who comes forward to claim it next.

For more on My Immortal, click here.

Dan & Phil Fandom Inside Jokes


This piece is about an incident-turned-meme that is widely known inside the Dan & Phil fandom about Phil falling off a stage.

Main Piece:

“L: This is a thing everyone in the Dan & Phil fandom know about. On their most recent tour, Interactive Introverts, their first or second night – one of the first few nights, Phil one of the two main people, fell off the stage and into the audience. Someone saw it and now there are jokes about it and everyone knows about it. Like someone turned it into a Valentine’s Day card.

M: They made memes about it?

L: Yeah, like “i’ve fallen for you like Phil fell off the stage.” Like that kind of thing.”


The informant is a 13 year old girl who is part of a Youtuber fandom for the youtubers Dan and Phil. She regularly keeps up with their videos and social media posts. She even went to their latest tour and bought their merchandise. She has kept up with inside jokes in the fandom, such as this, that have become memes that only those in the fandom understand. She has stated her affinity for the pair comes from their approach to comedy and reliability.


This type of obsession reminds me of obsessions with boybands like One Direction or even earlier boybands like NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys. When One Direction was in their hayday, it was common for fans to have inside jokes about the specific members. The informant’s affinity for Phil over Dan also reminded me of this aspect of fandoms as well. It is common for a fan to prefer one member of a band over the others and almost “claim” them as theirs. This is more common in fandoms surrounding boybands or other musical groups than comedy groups. The fact that memes have been created from one specific moment and have lasted for awhile show how powerful the fandom can be.


“I Ship It”

Informant’s self-description: “Both my parents were born in Canada but both my parents on either my mom or my dads side were born in China or in Wales so I identify pretty equally with both of those cultural backgrounds. Even though I didn’t really get a chance to get to know any of my grandparents because they died when I was very little. So I don’t really know that much of the cultural background from those sides but I would like to explore it sometime. Mostly just Canadian though. Born and raised. Very Canadian. Obnoxiously so.

“I do a lot of sports. I grew up playing – my mom wouldn’t let me. I tried to play hockey but she wouldn’t let me. She told me my brain hadn’t finished growing and I would damage it by falling down skating on the ice. And I could start playing when I was twelve. But the thing is is that by the time you’re twelve, you’re already so far behind on the skating skills that catching up then becomes a mess and its not even worth starting, which she probably knew. So I never played hockey. I played soccer and softball and volleyball growing up and I did gymnastics for a while until my mom made me pick between that and soccer. I chose soccer. I’m also into fandom culture and general nerdiness. I’m in the cinema fraternity at USC. Also a social sorority somehow. I don’t know how that happened. ”

Aside from sports, you said – fandom, let’s talk about fandom. What fandoms are you a part of?

Harry potter, Lord of the Rings, those are the two that are omnipresent. Except Lord of the Rings is picking up because of The Hobbit stuff. And then Marvel, Sherlock, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, definitely kind of the BBC – actors, whole sort of BBC-ness. Oh and the Hunger Games.

How do you participate in fandom?

I’m definitely more of an observer than an active participator. I’m not one of the people that writes fanfic, or does fanart. It depends how much time – usually I just scroll past it on Tumblr and absorb it. But there’s a couple fandom-specific blogs that I’ll follow. Like for certain ships.

What are ships?

When one watches a show, and one feels an intense investment in a couple of characters – sometimes friendship but more often romantic possibilities – it’s called a “ship,” it’s short for relationship. So when someone says “I ship that,” what they’re meaning to say is “I want them to be together forever and have beautiful babies.”

And the term for someone who ships two characters is a “shipper.” I can go all into the different kinds of ships.

There’s called a “one true pairing” or an OTP is what it’s referred to on the internet, which is someone’s main hardcore “I will ship these two characters ‘til the end of the days” or “I will go down with this ship” – it’s kind of like one of the things that is often heard and thrown around on the internet. For me it’s Clint Barton and Natasha Romanoff from the Marvel universe – Black Widow and Hawkeye. I love them, I think they’re fantastic. They are also somewhat canon depending on the universe and timeline, but that’s a whole other story. They would be my OTP.

There’s also a broTP, so that’s two characters that you really appreciate their friendship but you don’t want romantic things for them. For me- Capt. America and Black Widow or Steve and Natasha – they’re a brotp because I think their friendship is fantastic but I don’t want them to get together romantically.

There’s also multishipping, when someone wants a character to be with whoever, and there’s also the noTP – two characters for which you hate the mention of that ship. That’s some of the lingo.

Some blogs on Tumblr are devoted to particular ships. It’s an archive of fanfic, fanart, fanmixes and playlists, or headcanons – which is something that could happen between the characters that isn’t clarified in canon – so it’s also not counteracted by the canon of the story. So it’s going beyond the material but not creating an alternative universe to make it something that could be true.

Let’s go back to shipping – 

Is your fandom activity all online or do you talk to people about it in person? Have you ever used the phrase “I ship that” in a standard conversation?

Not necessarily in a standard — I do, but it’s with friend who I know who are also a part of that community.  So people like Thalia, because we talked about TV shows, and that turned into talking about Marvel, and that turned into talking about Clint and Natasha, and then that turned into – we both are obsessed with anything relating to Avengers Tower, and love hearing about headcanons of what shenanigans may go on at Avengers Tower. [lists examples] It’s generally something that’s more so online unless I already know the person is interested in that kind of thing. If I know they’re interested in that kind of thing it becomes a very large part of our friendship.


Informant neglected to mention the term “OT3,” which is also a very popular shipping term, and means what you probably think it does.