Parasocial Relationships + Celebrity Break Ups

Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn have allegedly broken up. For some odd reason, I feel very affected by this change in my own life. I have been disrupted because I care so much about Taylor through listening to her songs, and watching media surrounding her. Here’s another parasocial relationship I hold that I wasn’t quite aware of. 

I think it is a regularly teenage girl thing to care deeply about figures in the media. I could list so many, mainly music artists and TV actors, that having the pleasure to meet would be turn my world upside down. I cry at changes in celebrities’s lives, and perhaps it’s crazy and ‘hysterical’. A break up, in the context of Taylor, is something I don’t want to be affected by. As if she hasn’t gone through enough commentary on her relationships throughout her life-spanning career. 

Although I am upset, amidst rumours of the famous couple separating. I’ll admit it. What causes this? Why is it so easy to fall into parasocial relationships? Is it something to avoid? Is it something I’ll grow out of?

It’s easier for my mind to be tricked these days into thinking a figure behind pointed cameras cares about me. Growing up on YouTube, you subconsciously build an expectation to know more about people’s lives than you really need to. 

Of course, at this time, I want to be rid of this deep concern for a celebrity. Yet, for the times when they are euphoric on stage, proud, announcing a new album, sharing the work they love… I’m glad to care so deeply. It transforms the music into something else. I’m a person that gets hooked on an artist when they are introduced into my life. Suddenly, everything becomes about them. I could grow out of this? But do I want to?

My parents have the best taste in music and it is always been the unsaid centre of our family life. I could pinpoint a song that soundtracks nearly every turning point in my life to this point. When it’s not playing, we are singing it ourselves. My brother has played in bands. We’ve all been to gigs with each other. We enjoy the live music experience! And when Tom Petty passed away, my mum did cry a lot. When Freddie Mercury died, my dad said he ‘might have cried too’. When it comes to music artists, I think a parasocial relationship could be the wrong use of the term. 

I say this because songwriting is, for some people, a deep journal-like process of writing emotions. Even if it’s silly and nonsensical (I’m side eyeing Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino, which I love dearly), once it moves you in a moment, that feeling can stick for every replay. I’ve even started to be carefully sentimental about listening to songs I haven’t heard in a while, because I don’t want them to be tarnished by new memories, and lose the specific ones they return me to. So, perhaps I care so much about Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn’s relationship because I have paid close attention to the melodies and lyrics that refer to Joe. I don’t want to pry, they can have what is truly theirs. Yet, of course Taylor has proclaimed her love in her lyrics! I think this is what is affecting people the most. Although, it’s important to consider that while the lyrics of a song stay the same, emotions change. People change. Something written 4 years ago isn’t going to be true now, it was true for then. The song is still undeniably relevant. But please, don’t think you know these people better than they know themselves. That’s advice I need to take.

I don’t know if I should try to shrug off this deep care for people I don’t know? What would it leave me? I feel as though a lot of my identity relies on my pop-culture interests.

Do you think you have any parasocial relationships? How do they affect you?

Catherine x

One thought on “Parasocial Relationships + Celebrity Break Ups

  1. I don’t specifically relate- but I’m definitely familiar with feeling connected with certain figures of the media. There’s so much information available about everyone and anyone online that sometimes I’ve felt as though I know more about a celebrity’s life than the lives of people I actually know. And being affected by changes in their life, especially when their work, or art has become so personal to you, is not unusual. Obviously there’s always a risk with any attachment if it becomes extreme- being madly obsessed with someone you don’t personally know is not healthy for yourself or them. But being deeply affected by something someone has created, and thus admiring the artist is exactly what art is about! It’s just a shame how the modern media can take this ‘admiration’ too far- and the celebrity’s personal life is completely invaded. Which is sometimes why I feel as though I need to step back from my own attachments to figures in the media, out of fear of contributing to that obsessive fan culture, which in turn fuels the media’s invasive nature.
    It’s a really interesting sociological topic to muse over though! Thank you Catherine for your thoughts on it : )

    Liked by 1 person

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