Celebrities and influencers may post anything they want on social media these days. They update their fans and followers on every aspect of their life, including business meetings, opulent vacations, and news about their friends and family. While having this kind of access to all your favorite public people is great and unheard of historically, there are some drawbacks, including the possibility of parasocial relationships.
What Are the Parasocial Relationships?
A one-sided social media relationship is, in essence, a parasocial relationship. Consider how you might feel so connected and up to date with someone on TikTok or Instagram that they truly begin to feel like a true buddy. Even if that connection may seem particularly wonderful, it is usually one-sided and unable to provide you the same sense of pleasure that a genuine relationship can.
The origins of the word “parasocial relationships” may be traced back to 1956, when Donald Horton and R. Richard Wohl used the term “parasocial relationship” to describe interactions with media (such as TV, the movies, and subsequently social media) that resemble real-life friendships or ties.
Relationships with parasocial people flourish in circumstances involving prominent people. Consider how involved we are with the Kardashians or our favorite K-pop musicians, even though (no offense!) they have no idea we exist. Following people and celebrities on social media might make us feel closer to them as we learn more about their lives, which may lead us to want to communicate with or write about them as if we know them.
The Link Between Social Media and Parasocial Relationships
According to a 2016 study that was published in the journal, youths who were exposed to celebrities on Twitter had more intense parasocial relationships. Why? Experts claim that it has to do with the kind of content that famous people or other prominent people generally publish on these platforms, which might contain more intimate details about their personal lives as well as thoughts and political ideas.
How to Stop It
If you find yourself on the receiving end of a parasocial relationship, the attention of a stranger may be causing you to feel awkward or confused. When you tell someone that you aren’t interested in having a conversation with them, it’s natural that you don’t want to seem to be the “bad guy.” This is very acceptable.
To make someone in a parasocial relationship with you understand that their conduct won’t be reciprocated, it’s necessary to be honest and straightforward, much like when breaking up with or rejecting someone romantically.