Have you ever heard of this term; Parasocial Relationships? Even if you haven’t, I am sure you must have experienced it sometime or the other. In fact, in this era of social media, Parasocial Relationships have become quite a phenomenon.
What is Parasocial Relationship?
Parasocial Relationship is a term used to define the kind of relationships which are entirely based on one person’s affection, attention, and admiration. The other person or entity involved, on the other hand, has no idea about the former’s presence. Such kinds of relationships are experienced by the entertainment audience, celebrities’ fans, followers, etc.
While such relationships’ psychological impacts on us are both positive and negative, it is completely normal to be in such a setup. In this article, we will explore in-depth the meaning and consequences of such a relationship.
Understanding Parasocial Relationships
Parasocial Relationships are developed as a result of our admiration for people in showbiz. We might get inspired by their talent and skills as a performer, entrepreneurs, artists, etc. From observing the media influencers, we tend to develop a keen interest in their lives.
After watching a celebrity and admiring their personas, some people might develop an affectionate bond with them. Even though the intensity of such an interaction might be different, every level of admiration is considered to be a Parasocial Relationship.
Even if the relationship is as basic as admiring them every now, and then they appear on screen, it is still considered a parasocial relationship.
The One-sided Set-Up
The most basic characteristic of parasocial relationships is that they are unreciprocated. One person might be crazy about the other, while the other is not even aware of it.
You must have come across masses who are hooked with their favorite musicians, singers, actors, or actresses. They admire them to the extent that they find solace in going through their Instagram feed or listening to their songs on repeat.
Moreover, such kind of one-sided relationships is only possible with celebrities and media influencers. Imagine spending your life with someone who doesn’t love you the same? Unbearable right?
Practically, it is not possible to achieve the person one might be smitten with in a parasocial setup. And most people are aware of such aspects of these relationships. They know it is not possible to attain the other person. But this, surprisingly, doesn’t alter their affection for them.
The intensity of affection, of course, differs from person to person. Some might just be casual admirers of the media influencer’s work and talent. While on the other hand, some experience deep, irrevocable affection for the person, like that in a normal relationship.
There are fans who get their role model’s name tattooed. Such can be the intensity of Parasocial Relationships. Their one-sided aspect does not necessarily restrict the intensity of affection.
Positive Effects of Parasocial Relationships
From all the information you might be wondering, parasocial relationships must only have negative effects. But that’s not true. There are some aspects of a parasocial relationship that, in fact, have a positive influence on the person involved.
Help in feeling worthy
While feeling insignificant is insecurity in itself, you cannot deny that some adolescents and young adults crave to feel worthy. It is nothing abnormal. We all go through that phase in our lives when we feel unimportant. During such a phase, we experience low self-esteem. We look for solace elsewhere, just to feel better about ourselves.
So for those feeling insecure about themselves, admiring and following a media celebrity gives them a sense of belonging. When they wholeheartedly admire a person for their talent and identify themselves as a so and so’s fan, they automatically start feeling important and worthy.
It might just be a quick fix, but it still works. When you follow a celebrity and adore them for who they appear, you start imbibing their vibes. Thus, it helps to gain that sense of worthiness.
Alters some people’s identities for the better
People who might need a sense of purpose may get admired by the celebrities they look up to. Admiring a sportsman, for example, may instill some motivation in their fans to work harder and stay more active.
Studies prove that people in parasocial relationships find themselves imbibing the personalities of the celebrity they are fond of. Your favorite singer’s hair color might give you the perfect inspiration for your next salon visit. Your role model’s luxury cars might drive you to work harder. Or even you might get influenced by the way they speak and try inculcating their mannerisms into your daily life.
It’s all possible, and it all happens. Such relationships might be the biggest source of motivation for people who are in dire need of some upliftment.
Negative Effects of Parasocial Relationships
While there might be some highly significant impact of parasocial relationships, not all consequences are good. As they say, excess of anything is bad. Parasocial Relationships are no exception.
Overobsession leads to low self-esteem.
The most observed and common impact of parasocial relationships is that they trigger insecurities in the knowledgeable person involved.
While some extent of inspiration and doses of motivation is healthy, excess of it leads to deteriorated self-esteem. Obsessing about your favorite celebrity’s physique, hair, and facial features may make you feel low about your own.
As parasocial relationships are mostly superficial, the knowledgeable person only forms an opinion about the influencer based on the things that are visible and tangible. There is no normalcy in such relationships. Because of such superficiality, people would try to imbibe everything about the celebrity, even the way they look. This makes them lose confidence in their own skin.
Lack of control causes aggression.
As the relationship is one-sided, the knowledgeable party has no control over the other person’s life whatsoever. Their untainted affection for them causes them to feel helpless in a lot of instances.
As the relationship is unrequited, the other person might feel helpless if something bad happens to the influencer they look up to. In some cases, they might even feel jealous.
Such a lack of control causes aggression and disappointment. Sometimes, to the extent that it becomes unhealthy.
To sum up,
Parasocial Relationships are based on peoples’ attraction towards a celebrity, media influencer, sportsman, or anyone in showbiz.
The intensity of affection varies from person to person. But every form of affection and admiration for a person who does not even know of your existence comes under parasocial relationships.
Moreover, there are numerous impacts of such kind of a setup that alters our psychology for better or for worse. Hope this article helped you in better understanding our psychology.