If you don’t know what it is, you’ve never been a 15-year-old on Tumblr.
But for those of you that don’t know, it’s when you want two people, normally fictional characters, to end up in a relationship together. And when it is left to fictional characters, it’s fine. But problems arise when people start shipping real people together.
You see it too often, especially with Youtubers, where fans think they know enough about someone’s relationship with their friend to know that they would be good together. Even worse is when these people have said that they’re straight and their fans keep shipping them with people of the same gender.
It happened with Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson, with Dan Howell and Phil Lester, with Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal, and with so many others. People with a following can no longer be close friends with people without their fans deciding whether they should or shouldn’t date.
The problem with this is that you don’t know these people, and don’t know their relationship. Fans see a sliver of someone’s life and interactions with a person, make assumptions based on that, and decide two people who they see a very edited picture of are perfect for each other.
For people who are just friends who enjoy working together, this can put a strain on their friendship. If every time you do something even remotely nice for your friend on camera, people take it as evidence that you are dating, then you’re going to stop doing nice things for your friend on camera.
Shipping real people is a problem that needs to stop, and can easily be stopped. You’re still allowed to think that people would be cute together, just stop telling strangers on the internet that you want them to date their friends. Problem solved.