This post probably isn’t necessary. But I’ve thought a lot about exactly what shipping is and why I do it, and I felt like writing down my thoughts on it. Writing down my unnecessary thoughts is a thing that I do, as you all know.
I first started thinking about how I would define “shipping” when confronted with someone saying they ship a canon pairing. It wasn’t something I’d never heard before, of course, but I remember being struck at the time by how strange that seemed to me. My experience with shipping had always been with characters who were not canonically in a relationship, but whom I would like to be in a relationship. So I wasn’t quite sure what it meant to ship a canon pairing, as it seemed like your work was sort of already done for you. And it occurred to me that, say, “I ship Princess Cadance/Shining Armor” doesn’t mean quite the same thing as “I ship Appledash.”
So I started thinking about what it means to ship a pairing, and I think it can mean a lot of different things depending on the person saying it and the pairing in question. And here’s what I came up with for all the different things it can mean to say “I ship these characters,” keeping in mind that these are not mutually exclusive: