The beat of Lemont High School

The Tom-Tom

The beat of Lemont High School

The Tom-Tom

The beat of Lemont High School

The Tom-Tom

From beyond screens: Rise of parasocial relationships

Browsing impact of social media on celebrity obsessions
The+rise+of+the+internet+has+led+to+the+increase+of+parasocial+relationships.+
David Arroyo
The rise of the internet has led to the increase of parasocial relationships.

If you’ve been perusing the internet, chances are you may have heard of or seen the phenomenon of “parasocial relationships”. In simple terms, a parasocial relationship is a relationship where one devotes their time and energy to someone or something who may not reciprocate those feelings, or may not even be aware of their existence. 

While parasocial relationships are not a new phenomenon, they have gained momentum due to the rise of social media. In the past, these one-sided connections were directed towards television stars, athletes, or other celebrities. However, with the creation of platforms like Instagram, X (formerly Twitter) and TikTok, individuals now have newfound access to glimpses of celebrities’ daily lives and can interact with them in real time. Now fans can instantly connect with their idols, comment on their posts, send direct messages, or participate in their live streams These relationships come in many different shapes and forms. It could be an obsession with a famous musician such as Taylor Swift, or a deep emotional connection with a beloved character from a television show or movie. 

It has  been suggested that many celebrities like Taylor Swift are actively initiating parasocial relationships with their fans.  For example, Swift has published personal details through her song lyrics and has made interesting remarks about her relationships with her fans.

, “I’m really loving this tour. It’s become my entire personality and I’ve always loved putting on these shows, always loved that connection…Knowing you feel the same way…I need you guys very much for my well-being,” Swift said during her Tampa Eras Tour performance. 

Story continues below advertisement

While Taylor’s intentions are likely positive, her statements still contribute to initiating these parasocial relationships with her fans. Swift that she needs her fans for her well-being is extreme. From the fan’s perspective, it almost seems like they need to be her fans for the sake of Swift’s emotional stability. Of course, there is no concrete answer to why she says this.

While a majority of these fans are just showing support, some interactions do go into unsettling territory. An infamous example of parasocial relationships going far beyond convention occurred in 1981 when John Hinkley Jr. shot Ronald Reagan to impress actress Jodie Foster. Similarly, John Lennon was shot by Mark Chapman, who was desperate for the attention that John Lennon had received. 

The overall question of whether these relationships are beneficial or detrimental is largely up to interpretation. At first glance, they may seem somewhat negative as people invest significant time and money into someone who may not acknowledge their existence. Likewise, those with severe forms of parasocial relationships can hurt themselves or others.

However, as many have pointed out, they can provide a source of validation and happiness for those going through a rough point in their life.

 “We can feel inspired, encouraged, and supported in a way we may not receive through other relationships in our lives,” licensed therapist Jessica Leader said. 

It helps to hear someone famous tell you that it’s all going to be okay or that the hard times will go away. Some people don’t have anyone to lean on or go to for support and parasocial relationships provide an outlet for them. 

In moderation, parasocial relationships can serve as a positive outlet, offering comfort and support. However, if not managed carefully, they can spiral out of control, leading individuals to perform regrettable actions.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Tom-Tom
$800
$1000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Lemont High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
David Arroyo
David Arroyo, Staff Writer
David Arroyo is a senior, and this is his first year taking Journalism. He values humility and finds it pointless to brag about the many accolades and accomplishments he has done over the years. When not carrying Lemont on his back, he is out carrying JiffyLube on his back instead. He takes great pride in changing oil and not so much pride in forgetting to reinstall the occasional skid plate. On the homefront, he enjoys relaxing with his family and attempting to cook. As for his future, his dreams and aspirations remain a secret to all those but himself.
Donate to The Tom-Tom
$800
$1000
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Tom-Tom Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *