Stan, Shipping, and a Milkshake Duck: Internet Lingo

It sure is handy to have teenage kids sometimes, so they can tell you what the latest internet lingo is all about. I sent one of my kids a text just today asking her to explain what “cottage core” is. The answer was, “Cottagecore is a romanticized aesthetic of living in the country.” Hmm. Okay. 

Photo: country cottage with a door open invitingly
So like this, I guess?

Just in case you don’t have your own teenager to ask, I’m going to break down some internet slang for you. This is with the caveat that if I, a middle aged white woman in Iowa, know these words, then they’re probably already passe.

Internet Lingo 101


A lot of you probably know this one. It doesn’t mean “large c

Image: a tail sailing ship on the sea
Again, not THAT kind of ship

ontainer boat stuck in the Suez canal” . . . it means “pairing romantic partners from popular media in a relationship.” Some of these ships are canonical, which means they actually happen within the context of the story. Jim and Pam on The Office, for instance. Other “ships” are non-canon, but people ship them anyway. Hermione and Draco Malfoy, let’s say. For some reason my corner of the internet is really into shipping Launchpad McQuack and Drake Mallard from DuckTales and Darkwing Duck. If something doesn’t exist within the storyline but a fan of the show or story truly believes it, it becomes headcanon. For example, “In my headcanon, Hermione totally runs off with Draco and they start their own magical society.”


Image: statue of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy
That’s Stan Laurel, who is irrelevant to this story

A word that used to mean an extreme fan of something; a portmanteau of “stalker” and “fan.” This one’s origins can be traced to the Eminen song “Stan” about a stalker fan. Now its meaning is more of a benign “I really like this thing.”  I’m told “we stan” is a valid response to something. (For example, “You see a video of a dog playing piano, and then you say ‘we stan.’”)

Internet Main Character

The person who out of nowhere becomes a celebrity on the internet. “Bean Dad” from early January Twitter, is one example. His Twitter thread was about teaching his daughter how to use a can opener by essentially not letting her eat for several hours, a thread which went awry for him. “Bean Dad” was a short lived Internet main character.

Milkshake Duck

Image: colorful mallard duck
Leave me out of this, please

Okay, this one’s weird, right? But it’s pretty useful. Milkshake duck originated from a humorous tweet by Australian cartoonist Ben Ward. The joke describes when something or someone seemingly innocuous is universally beloved, like a a duck! Drinking a milkshake! “Aw! Look at the duck drinking the milkshake!” And then it is subsequently revealed that the duck, unfortunately, is a racist. This phrase was  recently used to describe another Internet Main Character, the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Shrimp guy, whose tweets about finding unusual things in how box of cereal received a lot of attention, causing some of his exes to write about his abuse of them. So that’s what the phrase “Cinnamon Toast Crunch Guy is a Milkshake Duck” could mean. 

Sometimes I ask my kids to explain this stuff to me; sometimes I ask them to explain things and then realize it would have been better to Google it myself. Because asking your kid what “WAP” is leads to them shifting uncomfortably and saying “It’s a . . . rap . . .song . . . and never quite filling you in on the rest.

(I’m not going to tell you here, either. This is a family website.)

Related: Check out more real-life stories and advice from Iowa City Moms.

Sharon Falduto is a Central Iowa native who came to University of Iowa in 1991 and essentially never left the area. She is involved in local community theater, notably as one of the co-founders of Iowa City's Dreamwell Theatre. She has also directed children's plays with the Young Footliters group. Sharon works in with English Language Learners in a support position at Kirkwood Community College.. She lives in Coralville with her husband, Matt, and three daughters Rachel, Samantha, and Piper.


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