With fan accounts on social media and fandom communities gathered online, stan culture might seem contained to the internet. But sometimes, stanning crosses over into real life, and that's where the real magic happens.
That's the case for Mallory, a college student at Utah Valley University, whose video of her giving a speech in her public speaking class has quickly gone viral. The topic? One Direction -- and the ways the band has shaped her life the last six years.
Mallory's task wasn't specifically to give a speech about One Direction, but since she was supposed to give an introductory speech in class, it only made sense. "I figured I would talk about the thing I’m most passionate about," Mallory told TRL over direct messages, "so people can get to know me best."
Speaking about One Direction served as a proper introduction for Mallory, who's been a fan of the band for over six years. She even know the exact date she fell in love: March 16, 2012.
"It was 3 days after their Up All Night album was released in America," Mallory recalls to TRL about when she discovered One Direction. "It literally happened in one night, I watched the video for 'What Makes You Beautiful' and then I watched funny moments, music videos and video diaries for about 5 hours with my older sister."
Mallory mentioned how she's stanned One Direction before and after Zayn left the group, and how she's supporting the boys' solo careers during the band's hiatus. That's because, like Mallory says at the beginning of the speech, "One Direction is a lot more than just a band."
In life's more difficult moments, "I turn to the family that has always been there for me. The 1D family!" Mallory told TRL. "The fans have been my best friends and my sisters. I actually met my best friend at a Niall Horan concert!"
But it's also the closeness that One Direction fans feel with the boys that makes them more than a band. From being updated to the boys' daily activities and watching them grow since their inception, Mallory explains, "it’s like they’re my best friends. And once you start thinking of them as best friends, the impact they can have on you for 6 years can actually shape your life."
With over 10,000 retweets, Mallory's speech has even found its way onto Instagram meme accounts. As unexpected as the online reaction has been, she found herself encouraged by the feedback from her classmates, too.
"I received a few high fives on the way back to my seat, even from 22 year old guys who got up and gave their speech about barbecue," Mallory told TRL. "A few people even stopped me in the hallway to tell me that I crushed it. Honestly, the reaction has been absolutely incredible."
Mallory is bridging the gap between the internet and IRL for stan culture, so it's encouraging to see so much love and praise for her speech. From all of the attention, she's got a message to share: don't "be afraid to share your passions -- even if they seem embarrassing."