Does the phrase ‘Parasocial relationships’ mean anything to you? It’s a fancy term for the kind of one-sided connection built up between celebrities, and their fans, and it’s a condition that absolutely flourishes on the Internet. Sites like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook have given the public more access than ever to their idols, and psychologists claim that the trend is dangerous as it promotes the type of fantasy relationship that isn’t healthy. In a new video from ReelSEO contributor Tim Schmoyer, he states that rock star YouTube creators are in the front line when it comes to attracting this type of attention, and that they probably have a much bigger impact on people’s lives than they realize:
‘Parasocial relationship’ is a term used by social scientists to describe one-sided, “parasocial” interpersonal relationships in which one party knows a great deal about the other, but the other does not. The most common form of such relationships are one-sided relations between celebrities and audience or fans.
There are three primary ways, according to research, that parasocial relationships will impact the fans, and audiences, particularly those of an impressionable age, and why it makes this type of relationship so impactful:
- It can help shape identity. Celebrities are often seen as having the perfect life and career and this facet of their lives become idealized by followers. In extreme cases, the fan lives their life in this idealized world, fantasizing about complete acceptance by the celebrity in question. Attributes and values are often projected onto the star to meet the wants, and needs of the follower.
- It affects self-perception. This emotional manifestation can occur if the fan has a negative self-image of themselves, especially about their own body. They strive to reach the physical perfection they see in their idols
- It influences behavior. If a celebrity, or creator, has a very negative or sarcastic approach to life, dedicated followers can develop those same traits.
Parasocial relationships can affect anyone of any age, so how can YouTube creators deal with, and manage the attention they may receive, even though a lot of it is completely outside of their control? Tim suggests the following:
Put a Lot of Thought Into How You Present Yourself on Camera
Think about the image you present of yourself to the outside world via your content. Sometimes it may be ok to show the side of you that struggles or makes mistakes. It can make you appear more human, and down-to-earth.
Take Your Audience Seriously
Even if you don’t think you are sending out any particular message, just by being YOU on camera, you are communicating something. That is having an impact on your audience, even if its only a small section of them.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments, particularly if you have any experience of the above – either as a creator, or as a fan.