Are parasocial relationships harmless relationships that we as an audience create with our favorite celebrities, or are they something that can become harmful?
Parasocial relationships can be defined simply as one-sided relationships typically involving celebrities and their fans. The fans of the celebrity feel as if they are friends with this person due to how much of the celebrity’s life they see online. They feel as if they know everything about this person regardless of the fact that the other person remains unaware of their existence.
The YouTube group The Try Guys recently released a video statement on the recent scandal regarding their cofounder, Ned Fulmer. During the group’s podcast, Try Guys cofounder Zach Kornfeld briefly touches on the topic of parasocial relationships amid the scandal. He noticed that a lot of fans were voicing social media that they felt hurt or betrayed by Fulmer’s actions.
Kornfeld brought up the fact that the fans don’t know who they are behind the scenes after the cameras are turned off, but also validates their feelings about the situation. He said he understands that the fans invested a lot of their time and money into Try Guys and Fulmer’s actions made them feel betrayed.
Another Try Guys cofounder Keith Habersberger said on the podcast that fans might feel the need to step away from the channel for a while and come back when they feel ready.
I understand the feelings that the fans are having surrounding this situation. It is hard to not feel upset when a person you have dedicated a lot of time to turns out to be different than they seem.
Another example of this was when a fan of Zendaya and Tom Holland leaked a photo of the two kissing. Fans of the pair were quickly invested in their relationship. These types of situations are common on the internet. A fanbase gets invested, the couple breaks up, and the fanbase is distraught and heartbroken over a couple they never knew personally.
There are many things that influencers, musicians and celebrities do not explicitly show about their lives. Many fans will watch every piece of content the person is in and believe that they know them personally. Sometimes this can lead to fans having this idea that these celebrities owe them something when they don’t know they exist.
According to the National Library of Medicine, researchers have found that adults connecting to fictional characters helps with avoidant attachment styles and develop positive coping mechanisms. Another study that was conducted in 2017 found that parasocial relationships could help young teens form a good sense of identity.
My thoughts on parasocial relationships are that, if kept under control, they are not that big of a deal. I think, however, that there are certain boundaries of the celebrities that are put on these pedestals by their fans that are often crossed due to these parasocial relationships.
Adrian Champagne can be contacted at