The student news site of Jones College Prep High School


The student news site of Jones College Prep High School


The student news site of Jones College Prep High School


Perils of parasocial relationships

The line between creator and consumer grows increasingly blurry
Photo Credit to Liz Lira 24
Photo Credit to Liz Lira ’24

Parasocial relationships are defined as a one-sided attachment, where one person puts in the same amount of time, energy, and emotion as you would in a mutual relationship into a one sided one, these traditionally appear in the form of obsessions with celebrities.  For example, a fan of Emma Stone once performed a La-La Land number to ask her to prom. These relationships are not inherently bad and they can even help teenagers form an identity and develop autonomy as they’re able to develop role models. However the issue comes when people grow too obsessed or engrossed in these relationships and those who are lonely are the biggest victims. Content creators are not real relationships in our lives and thus must be kept to a limit as to our attachment to them. 

We as a society have been obsessed with love since the dawn of time, with it being the most common theme in literature, film, and music. This obsession carries on into celebrity romantic relationships. Celebrities walk a tightrope when it comes to their love lives. As a society people are enthralled with the huge melting pot of adulterous affairs and gluttonous lifestyles of Hollywood. 

Take the breakup between Taylor Swift and Joe Alwin for example, the media was given no information about why, when, or how this breakup occurred. Fans of Swift spent seven years invested in this relationship after hearing about it in countless of her hit singles and met the news with public outrage and disappointment. This was until fans received new drama as the beginning of her relationship and break up with a notably controversial star hit phone screens, that Swift was truly redeemed. This pattern of intense public interest in the private and domestic affairs of celebrities is seen in other cases such as Amber Heard and Johnny Depp, Jada and Will Smith, and Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner. 

The issue with these investments is that people will often take sides and issue a plethora of online bullying and insults at the party they believe to be wrong in a breakup or relationship issue. No one deserves to be insulted in that way or even have threats or jokes made on their life especially not over the very narrow perspective the public receives. Not only that but watching these relationships distorts our own ideas of love. As we idolize these relationships slowly our idea of love is morphed into the things we are consuming and spawns the all too common phrase “love is dead.”

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Content creators are not your friends. In fact, these obsessions are simply extortionable and profitable to content creators. Taking a look at the once again notable example that is Taylor Swift let’s discuss the insane prices her Era tour tickets were selling for. Tickets were selling for upwards of $20,000. Even more recently Bad Bunny’s Most Wanted tour tickets sold for upwards of $1,000 with fans creating online memes about having to sell organs in order to go to this concert. Publicity is profitable. Diehard fans will go to extreme lengths and spend more and more money for the person or organization they idealize. Not only this but obsession can cover a multitude of errors. Creating protected platforms for morally dubious individuals and with platforms comes profit. 

Not only do diehard fans have to invest generous amounts of money into their obsession but also time. Parasocial relationships can easily begin to interfere with or take the place of real-life relationships. This self-isolation can cause anxiety, loneliness, and depression according to Medical News Today especially if it involves social media. Oftentimes these parasocial relationships are used as coping mechanisms as people allow themselves to use their obsession to hide behind and avoid facing their real life issues. Obsession in the imaginary ultimately distracts from all of the real-life issues going on. It turns the public’s attention to things that don’t actually matter. 

Parasocial relationships have come to be more intimate as social media has created a way for creators to directly communicate with their fans. This direct social interaction and more intimate view into the lives of celebrities and public figures ultimately lead to more intense and emotionally demanding parasocial relationships. As the vast majority of the Jones population interacts with and participates in both social media and online culture we are at the risk of falling into parasocial relationships. Parasocial relationships while not inherently bad can have disastrous effects on mental health, personal relationships when not kept in check. Therefore it’s important to be mindful of our fandoms or obsessions and watch to make sure you don’t lose your grip on real-life relationships. 

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About the Contributor
Liz Lira '24
Liz Lira '24, Journalism III

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