Twitter is buzzing about 'parasocial relationships.' Are they unhealthy?


The term “parasocial relationship” is getting a lot of attention on Twitter as of late.

When news broke that comedian John Mulaney and actress Olivia Munn are expecting a baby together, fans accused those who were critical of the announcement of having a “parasocial” relationship with the stars. The social media conversation led many to wonder: What is a parasocial relationship and is it unhealthy?

The term was first coined in 1956 by psychologists Donald Horton and Richard Whorl, after they studied the relationship between viewers and television personalities, such as news anchors and soap opera stars.

Elizabeth Perse, a professor emeritus of communication at the University of Delaware, says a parasocial relationship is the “the illusion of friendship” with a public persona.

Today, the term can be found on social media in critical context.

Twitter is buzzing about 'parasocial relationships.' Are they unhealthy?

“How many times will people have to tell y’all to stop forming weird parasocial relationships with celebrities and online creators THAT YOU DON’T KNOW AND PROBABLY NEVER WILL KNOW,” @thetmawiki wrote.

But experts say parasocial relationships can be beneficial.

“There’s so much about parasocial relationships that have really helped us and have been good for us in this time period because of the isolation,” says addiction therapist Audrey Hope.

Parasocial relationships have evolved over the years

Perse began studying parasocial relationships in the ’80s. She says since then, social media has greatly increased the access fans have to celebrities, which creates a perceived closeness.

“I think that what’s happened is the media has changed,” Perse says. “I can certainly see it with Instagram especially, (the) carefully crafted messages that lead people to interact and form this sense of friendship.”

In the past, parasocial attachments were studied in the context of examining the feelings fans formed for a character a star portrayed. Experts say the term as it is being used today is “blurrier” — when fans are attached to the celebrity’s real-life persona.

“(They are) human beings who theoretically could have a relationship with you and perhaps even engage with you on social media,” explains Northwestern University Social Psychology professor Wendi Gardner. “If they are a friend and they have no idea really who you are at all, I will say it satisfies the criteria of a parasocial relationship.”

Perse considers parasocial relationships with celebrities on social media an illusion.

“You get the illusion of chatting. You may not even necessarily be chatting with a celebrity. You may be chatting with their social media manager,” she says.

Fandom vs. parasocial attachment

It can feel natural to consume everything your favorite artist, author or actor produces. But Gardner stresses being a fan and having a parasocial attachment are two different things.

“It’s not the amount of time you spend thinking about the person that makes it a parasocial relationship,” Garnder says. “It’s the way you’re feeling.”

The key difference between the two, she says, lies in the bond.

“You can be a super fan of a celebrity and not have a parasocial relationship with them,” she says. “If you admire someone, you would go see a movie just because they were in it. You don’t feel like you’re friends with that actress.”

During the pandemic, many of our social patterns have changed. Some people feel starved for social interaction.

“Sometimes people form parasocial attachment because they aren’t getting those needs met in other ways,” Gardner says.

Perse adds, “Its a normal thing that we do, we’re social creatures.”

Gardner notes a parasocial relationship is preferable to having no social relationships at all: “They aren’t as good as a real relationship, but they’re better than no relationships.”

‘I’ve invested too much time’:Reasons we stay in relationships longer than we should

Hope agrees parasocial relationships are beneficial — until they are used as a crutch for real relationships.

“When we start stalking and start replacing the relationships for our own, that’s when it becomes kind of sick … You have to ask ‘What is this relationship doing for me? Why am I so obsessed with this celebrity? Am I hiding? Am I diverting myself from my own issues?'”

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

World Mental Health Day 2021: Hong Kong companies put more emphasis on staff well-being amid the coronavirus pandemic

If there is a silver lining to the coronavirus pandemic, it is that we are more open about discussing mental health – not just in our personal lives but in ... Read more »

'Ted Lasso' allowed me to channel the coach and make biscuits for the Season 2 finale

I needed “Ted Lasso” this year. I needed the show not for just the simple, sweet characters everyone loved which first persuaded me to watch the show, but because things ... Read more »

The power of connection, according to our readers

It’s been almost a week since the Facebook and Instagram outage that shook the online world. In Tuesday’s newsletter, my colleague Kelly wrote about the lessons we were from the ... Read more »

Why are we so obsessed with tracking our online purchases? It's complicated.

There’s a child-like joy that comes with ordering something online — whether it be clothes or kitchen gadgets. We sit anxiously refreshing the USPS or FedEx pages to see when ... Read more »

Private hospital in China suspends operations after allegation it tricked a minor into having unnecessary cervical surgery

A private hospital in northern China was told to suspend its business following an allegation that a 17-year-old girl was tricked into having cervical surgery and coerced to write an ... Read more »

Characterizing cancer as a 'war' assumes it can be won. Is that too simple?

Try talking about cancer without using a war metaphor. It’s likely you’ll stumble. We rarely say someone is living with cancer. People “fight” cancer or “battle” it. They demonstrate they ... Read more »

Justin Bieber, Martha Stewart and more promote cannabis use: Experts weigh in on THC vs. CBD

What do Martha Stewart, Jaleel White (aka Steve Urkel) and Justin Bieber have in common? They’re all in the cannabis business. In October, Bieber partnered with Palms, a Los Angeles-based ... Read more »

How supermodel Linda Evangelista's fat-freezing cosmetic procedure went wrong and what you need to know about its side effects

What is paradoxical adipose hyperplasia, or PAH? Few of us had ever heard of the condition until Linda Evangelista’s story broke; the 56-year-old Canadian supermodel claims she suffers from it ... Read more »

What did we learn from the social media blackout?

Yesterday for several hours Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp were all down for users across the globe. And for many of us, it was a moment to take stock of what ... Read more »

Hot sauces and hugs sparked 2021 Nobel Prize winners' research, leading to new ways of treating chronic pain, heart disease

David Julius was browsing a supermarket aisle filled with chilli pepper sauces when he turned to his wife, a fellow scientist, and said he thought it was time he finally ... Read more »

The secret to pain-free knees this running season: avoid high-impact sports, work on quad strength and always warm up thoroughly, doctors say

As the running season gets going again in subtropical Asia after a pandemic-induced hiatus – the Hong Kong Standard Chartered Marathon and Moontrekker events are back in October, though with ... Read more »

Palliative care experts on what the dying can teach us about how to live – their biggest regrets are not being genuine and hesitating to live a more fulfilling life

Our brains are wired not to dwell upon our own mortality, which is a good thing. That allows us to carry on without worrying about how and when the end ... Read more »

How to keep your skin healthy during menopause and smooth over fine lines and wrinkles as your estrogen level declines – doctors' expert advice

Hot flushes and mood swings aren’t the only side effects women experience during menopause. As hormone levels fluctuate, the facial skin can also undergo dramatic changes that can make this ... Read more »

Inmate program that ships food to needy school kids hits major milestone

Schoolchildren across the country facing food insecurity have been getting a little extra help in recent years from a source they likely would never have expected — the Bent County ... Read more »

Do you need a heart test? Don't be scared of them – a Mayo Clinic cardiologist explains how they could save your life

Having a healthy heart is always the goal, but sometimes you need some help to make sure everything is working just right – that’s where heart tests come in. Health ... Read more »

Dancing keeps your body strong, trim and toned – and helps women manage changes that come with menopause

Elizabeth Lai started Zumba classes about 15 years ago. She says the fast-paced Latin-inspired dance is just what she needs to feel strong, fit and energised, especially on long and ... Read more »

How to make the spooky season special, even at home

It’s officially October! I truly can’t believe September came and went so fast, but I’m looking ahead to ~spooky season~ and getting excited. While I’m not planning to go to ... Read more »

Man-made chemicals are killing us and they're everywhere – in our food, water, air, clothing, homes and workplaces, author says. It's why we, and Planet Earth, need a detox

Earth Detox: How and Why We Must Clean Up Our Planet by Julian Cribb, pub. Cambridge University Press If you ever have Australian science writer Julian Cribb over for dinner, ... Read more »

BodyTalk holistic therapy taps your powers of self-healing by reading your ‘unique frequency' – could it solve a lifelong migraine problem?

BodyTalk is a therapy, one that I’d always dismissed as woo-woo medicine. How could talk treat a physiological ailment? But – and it’s a big but – I have friends ... Read more »

Here's what we know about the new COVID-19 pill and when it will be available.

A new experimental antiviral drug has proven to cut COVID-19 infections in half and is effective against variants Gamma, Delta, and Mu. Read more »

Parasocial relationships: the ‘illusion of friendship' with a celebrity is better than none at all – but it can also be unhealthy

The term “parasocial relationship” is getting a lot of attention on Twitter as of late. When news broke that American comedian John Mulaney and actress Olivia Munn are expecting a ... Read more »

How doctors' assumptions about LGBTQ patients can be harmful to their health

“Are you sexually active?” a doctor asks. “Yes,” a female patient responds. “Do you take birth control?” they ask. “No,” she answers. “Do you use condoms?” “No…” “Are you trying ... Read more »

Trauma dumping: When your venting becomes 'toxic' to your friends

After a tough day at work or a date that went horribly wrong, many of us turn to friends to offload our frustration and anger. But when does venting become ... Read more »

World Heart Day 2021: tips on keeping yours healthy through lifestyle changes and devices that alert you to problems

Heart disease is one of the biggest killers of men in Hong Kong, according to the city’s Centre for Health Protection. This is true in the United States, too, where ... Read more »

How a hybrid party inspired me for the future

Over the weekend my friends and family attended my baby shower, virtually and in-person. At this moment in our pandemic reality, there are a lot of questions about what is ... Read more »

A supplement before exercise? Experts weigh in on pre-workout powders – and stress the value of a healthy diet and sleep routine

Pre-workout powders are booming on social media. From influencer-promoted brands to viral dry-scooping techniques and more, the powdery supplements that gym-goers mix into their drinks are everywhere online – but ... Read more »

The Blinking White Guy viral GIF uses his face and fame to ask for donations for MS charity, and has raised more than US$154,000 so far

If you’ve been on social media, or texted with GIF-loving friends, you know Drew Scanlon’s face. His GIF, known as “Blinking Guy” or “Blinking White Guy”, is estimated to have ... Read more »

Lawyers join Hong Kong fitness fundraiser to support women in Afghanistan as oppressive Taliban regime returns

Eliza Jiang’s heart sank while watching news out of Afghanistan last month of the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul. “I was tearing up,” says Jiang. “Those women and girls have been ... Read more »

Dopamine dressing is here post-pandemic, in vivid reds, greens, purples and yellows – colours of optimism. How to wear these saturated hues? Go all in

For Valentino’s autumn/winter 2021 haute couture show, staged in July in a Venice shipyard, creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli asked guests to wear only white. The reason became immediately clear – ... Read more »

Why CBD is so popular in stressed out Hong Kong – whether in drinks, food, oils or cosmetics: it offers relief from anxiety without a doctor's prescription

When Joyce Chen* returned to her native Hong Kong in April 2019, she was looking forward to a happy reunion. After six years in Los Angeles, she felt it was ... Read more »

How to age well: actress Charlie Yeung says giving birth at 42, to twin boys, has kept her feeling youthful

Although she hasn’t had an uninterrupted night’s sleep since the premature birth of her twin boys in 2017, actress and former singer Charlie Yeung Choi-nei says they have given her ... Read more »

The importance of finding a good therapist – and why it's so difficult

Finding a good therapist can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack– next to impossible. The truth? It is possible. It just might be more arduous than anticipated. ... Read more »

Retired HSBC banker embraces role helping teens with Down's syndrome and other intellectual disabilities in Hong Kong do sports and eat healthy meals

Kind-hearted may not be the first word that springs to mind when you think of a banker, but Carmel Armstrong proves the exception. After working for HSBC in Asia for ... Read more »

Linda Evangelista says she was 'brutally disfigured' after a CoolSculpting. What is it?

Supermodel Linda Evangelista is opening up about how a cosmetic procedure kept her out of the spotlight for years. Evangelista wrote in an Instagram post Wednesday she was left “brutally ... Read more »

Top US diplomat to Haiti resigns over 'inhumane' treatment of Haitian migrants

WASHINGTON – A career U.S. diplomat to Haiti has resigned over the Biden administration’s “inhumane” decision to deport thousands of Haitians attempting to enter the U.S. back to the island ... Read more »

What is the Blue Zones diet? How to eat like people who live the longest.

A study released earlier this month reported that eating a single hot dog can take 36 minutes off of a human’s life. But what if there was a diet that ... Read more »

From drink, drugs and suicide attempts to being happier and healthier than ever: how one woman found what her soul needed, and is helping others do the same

Hongkonger Gwen Siu used to live a busy, fast-paced lifestyle, working in some of the city’s most dynamic restaurants and clubs – often putting in 14- to 16-hour days. She ... Read more »

How to keep your cool as fall begins

Tomorrow marks the official first day of fall. And I’ll be the first to admit I’m not ready. Where did the time go? Despite the fact that so much happened ... Read more »

Gabby Petito's death has caused a national outcry. Experts say violence against women is everywhere.

Gabby Petito’s father posted a photo of his daughter on Twitter Sunday night with the caption, “She touched the world.” It was not an overstatement. Petito’s disappearance has captivated a ... Read more »

The surprising benefits that come from breathing entirely through your nose

Many people misunderstand how our bodies produce energy, says James Nestor, a science journalist and author of “Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art.” “We get most of our ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic