joe alwyn and taylor swift

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An actor’s Instagram account gets flooded with hate comments in the wake of the Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn breakup

Stan culture is more intense than it was years ago.


Tiffany Kelly

Internet Culture

Posted on Apr 22, 2023   Updated on Apr 24, 2023, 6:05 am CDT

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Since Taylor Swift’s reported breakup with actor Joe Alwyn (who starred in Conversations with Friends), there’s been a lot of chatter online about what happened. Fans are looking for any hints—including in her current Eras Tour and on social media

A couple of days ago, they spotted something: a photo of Alwyn in a multi-photo post on the actor Emma Laird’s Instagram. The two are currently filming a movie together, and Laird included photos of other actors who are also in it, including Adrien Brody. But people focused on the one photo of Alwyn, in which he is posing on an e-scooter, and began leaving comments about it on the post. 

Laird turned off comments on the post, but before she did, someone accused her of “stirring the pot.” Other commenters declared, “Taylor is better.” 

People responded to the harassment with criticism of Swift’s fans. “Swifties attacking Emma Laird need to touch grass. Like you’re seriously speculating that Joe cheated on Taylor with no actual evidence whatsoever and are sending her hate? Find a damn job or a hobby. Something,” one Twitter userwrote.

This wasn’t the first time that fans of a major celebrity harassed people online for what they perceived to be negative content or shade about that celebrity. It happened during the Selena Gomez vs. Hailey Bieber debacle. Anna Marie Tendler, ex-wife of comedian John Mulaney, made her TikTok account private after fans criticized her for a video she said was satire that accused Swift of copying her artwork for the Eras Tour set. 

Since the apparent Swift/Alwyn breakup, there’s been heightened scrutiny on what people are saying about Swift. 

Why it matters

Stan culture is more intense than it was years ago. Fans can now jump from platform to platform—Reddit to Twitter to TikTok—to find gossip about their favorite celebrity. And it spreads quickly

Laird’s Instagram photo shouldn’t have been a big deal—a lot of actors post photo carousels of their co-stars after filming a project. But it became a talking point for fans who are hungry for any information about the breakup. 

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*First Published: Apr 22, 2023, 6:00 am CDT