Since the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, the number of parasocial relationships between influencers and their fans has increased due to an increase in social isolation.¹ These relationships are a form of social interaction where one party knows a lot about the other, but the other party doesn’t know anything about them.¹ While some degree of celebrity worship is normal and can result in positive benefits, the behaviour frequently develops into forming unhealthy obsessions, compulsions, and elements of addiction.²
Once people become obsessed with their idols, their one-sided relationships can become toxic and detrimental to their mental health.¹ While these relationships can decrease loneliness and fill the gap for social interaction, they are by no means as effective and satisfactory as real-life interactions.¹ However, such connections can be accommodating for individuals who feel that socialization is not attractive or possible.²
While parasocial relationships may help people who suffer from loneliness, these interactions cannot replace the role of real-life interactions.¹ In reality, they only create an imaginary sense of having friends, which can even deepen the sense of loneliness outside their false world and lead to depression instead.¹ Some identifiable negative symptoms that people in a parasocial relationship can show are that they follow their favourite celebrity all the time, they care more about their idol’s life and achievements than their achievements, and they feel that they can trust the person with their personal information.¹ Ultimately, it is important to identify and restrict parasocial relationships so that they are dabbled in moderation, and if these interactions become unhealthy, people should try talking to a therapist or finding hobbies that force real-life connections instead.¹
Quitters, Game. “Parasocial Relationships: What Are They, and Are They Bad?” Game Quitters, © Game Quitters, 27 Oct. 2021, gamequitters.com/parasocial-relationships.
Jarzyna, Carol Laurent. “Parasocial Interaction, the COVID-19 Quarantine, and Digital Age Media.” Human Arenas, vol. 4, no. 3, 2020, pp. 413–29. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.1007/s42087-020-00156-0.