Earlier today I had a conversation about the different meanings of the word shipping with the lovely cyclogenesis, and she really helped me articulate some of my thoughts on the subject. I’ve been frustrated with parts of fandom giving the word a different meaning than the traditional one, but she (rightly!) pointed out that it is mostly isolated in a part of fandom I don’t really interact with anyway. But it was still nagging at me, and okay, I admit, it’s a tiiiiiny bit GET OFF MY LAWN, but I think what it really comes down to is the very basic desire to understand and be understood. That’s the short version, anyway. What follows is the long version.
In the vast majority of fannish spaces I’ve been a part of over the years, the word “shipping” does not imply anything about whether or not a couple is actually together, both for fictional and real-person fandoms. It could refer to a real relationship (either in canon or real life) but it could also refer to something completely outside the realm of possibility. There is (what seems to be) a very large part of 1D fandom that uses the word “shipping” to refer to relationships they believe to be real. Without assigning any value judgments to either of these positions, this is a potential problem because it is very hard to have any kind of meaningful exchange when one word has different meanings to different people.