Parasocial relationships are a type of psychological relationship that individuals can have with certain performers in the mass media, particularly on television.
Parasocial relationships are one-sided relationships where someone invests emotional energy, interest and time into a person, and that person is oblivious to their existence. This term was coined by psychologists Donald Horton and Richard Wohl in 1956 to describe how people often feel close to celebrities or other public figures they usually see in the media, even if they don’t know them personally.
The impact of social media on parasocial relationships
Parasocial relationships are often created and reinforced through social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Because social media give people unprecedented access to celebrities, they have the potential to strengthen parasocial relationships.
Some research has found that social media can lead to more parasocial relationships. This may be because social media provide a way for people to get closer to celebrities and feel like they know them better. One study found that celebrities sharing their personal and work-related lives on social media positively affects parasocial interaction.
Other research has found that social media can also weaken parasocial relationships. One study found that people who use Twitter more often are less likely to develop parasocial relationships with celebrities. This may be because Twitter provides a way for people to get more information about celebrities, reducing the illusion of knowing them better.
Parasocial vs real-life relationships
Most people know what it’s like to have a friend that they can talk to about anything and everything. Someone who is always there for them, no matter what. For some people, this type of friendship extends to their favourite celebrities. Fans in a parasocial relationship feel like they know the actor or singer personally and often feel a close bond with them.
People can develop parasocial relationships for a variety of reasons. For some, it may be because they see the performer as someone who represents their interests or ideals. Others may appreciate the performer’s talent or find them entertaining and feel a sense of connection to them as a result. Whatever the reason, parasocial relationships can be pretty intense and affect people’s lives in various ways.
Some people may find that their parasocial relationships give them a sense of belonging or connection that they don’t get from their real-life relationships. This can be especially true for introverted or shy people, as parasocial relationships can provide an opportunity for them to engage with others safely and comfortably. However, there is also the potential for people to become too dependent on their parasocial relationships, which can lead to problems in their real-life relationships.
While parasocial relationships can be fun, they can also have adverse effects on people. For example, research has shown that parasocial relationships can lower self-esteem and body image satisfaction in women. Additionally, these relationships can cause people to feel more isolated from their friends and family and make them more likely to suffer from loneliness.
So, if you’re someone who enjoys spending time talking to or following your favourite celebrities, just be sure to keep things in perspective and don’t let their lives become too important to you. Enjoy the friendship, but remember that they are still real people with their own problems and concerns. And most importantly, make sure you have healthy relationships with your friends and family!