Repeated exposure to the media persona causes the media user to develop illusions of intimacy, friendship, and identification. Positive information learned about the media persona results in increased attraction, and the relationship progresses. Parasocial relationships are enhanced due to trust and self-disclosure provided by the media persona. Media users are loyal and feel directly connected to the persona, much as they are connected to their close friends, by observing and interpreting their appearance, gestures, voice, conversation, and conduct. Media personas have a significant amount of influence over media users, positive or negative, informing the way that they perceive certain topics or even their purchasing habits.
For online creators and internet influencers, sharing intimate details about their lives is now part of the job description. The audience is brought into the inner fold on marriages, break-ups, divorces, deaths, births, adoptions, illnesses. Creators speak directly to the viewer’s eye line on video, spend hours with watchers on live streams, or croon into the listener’s ears through the podcast mic. The openness and candor with which many online creators speak is more than many average people would divulge to friends and family, and more than friends and family might divulge to them.
For some, these information bits form the basis of a parasocial relationship: instead of discussing a recent video posted by “someone they follow,” a fan might speak about “someone they know,” going so far as to refer to their favorite creator as a friend.
Beyond a certain number quality social relationships are difficult to maintain so expectations of 'follower friends' cannot be met, in some leading to sense of betrayal of the imaginary friendship.
From HN commentary:
".. we noticed how these relationships are important for keeping the engagement numbers high. An interesting thing we saw was that investing in D-list creators could have a way higher ROI than A-list creators. An A-list creator could get a large number of followers but would not get the devotion that the D-list creators would get. – bongoman37
"With a big influencer/creator it's a one-way relationship to the audience. With a smaller influencer/creator, it can be more two-way. So, for example, I watch a variety of streamers on Twitch. On the larger streams, I almost never look at chat or chat myself. It's a sea of text and emotes already. No one in chat will read your message. The streamer certainly won't. So you're just listening or watching like to the radio or TV." But a streamer with 200 viewers? You can often ask questions and get a response. It's a completely different dynamic." – cletus
"Chat becomes highly memetic in large channels but that's part of the fun and highly engrossing. It's like being at a concert and becoming fully immersed with the rest of the hive mind. Many religions base their practices around this feeling of collective ecstasy, only on Twitch it's by using a sea of pogs and pepegas." – arkitaip
"In regards to streaming and content creation platforms, i largely agree - it's more akin to improv theatre with one artist, but the kind where you could affect their act in subtle ways.
It's still delusional thinking you can have a 'relationship' with someone on the other end of a screen that you are never going to meet in real life.
With this, however, i disagree. It's old fashioned to think that friendships can only happen in meat space. Plenty of people actually prefer online and remote communication in many circumstances, since those can offer a way to meet people from wildly different cultures or with similar interests, whereas for others it's a great way to keep in touch with friends who are a long distance away. For example, i currently live about 60 km from the nearest city in which I could find a significant amount of fellow developers, yet this very platform allows me to see what people all over the world keep themselves busy with. There is definitely a community aspect there. In regards to personal relationships, some of my online friends are people with whom I can be more honest about my life circumstances than those that i face every day - since they could also have a larger impact on my life with their reactions and differing views." – KronisLV
"It’s arguable that Mental health practitioners end up cultivating parasocial relationships too. Particularly if they have to earn a living from selling their services and therefore “fixing” a person leads to a drop in income. Another reason why healthcare should be socially provided. You want your mental health practitioner like your judges - free from money worries so they can exercise their judgement truly independently." –neilwilson
"There are interesting edge cases to these sorts of relationships, like Deadmau5 finding a vocal from a fan on stream for a song that is now one of his most well known ones. 1 From what I've seen, a lot of Twitch streamers and YouTube creators also form these sorts of relationships with other influencers, with it ending up in them connecting with each other. That dynamic is completely different than one between a person who has no followers on a platform whatsoever, but I wouldn't say the divide is as clear cut as fans and influencers. When we're talking about influencers with hundreds of thousands of fans, like the ones which this article focuses on, the divide is still more well defined. However, when we get to people with only thousands of active followers, everything starts getting a bit murkier. What about a lesser known influencer at first forming parasocial relationship with a superstar and then actually connecting? I've seen this happen dozens of times with less known influencers connecting with the likes of Casey Neistat or Jon Olsson. 2 There have definitely been times when it has seemed to me like a streamer on Twitch has been as dependent on their fans socially as their fans have been on them. A lot of this can be completely manufactured and facetious, but I think there are times when the non-stop schedule of the profession can seriously inhibit relationships outside of the cyberscape. Could be seen as another side of the coin when it comes to unhealthy forms of parasocial relationships. I think the core question the article prunes at is amazing and I agree with just about all of it, just adding in some thoughts it provoked. 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqurYVWg7-g 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLKspC7CGgs – helloplanets
- alice cappelle
- covid hikokomori
- patrick atallah. i'm not your friend - a twitch documentary
- fadeke adegbuyi. the blurred lines of parasocial relationships - the disappearing divide between “followers” and “friends”
- let's be friends: comfort viewing and the parasocial
- ed zitron. how parasocial relationships have defined the tech industry
- wikipedia: parasocial interaction
- gwern: literature list on parasocial relationships
- glink. the parasocial problem with livestreaming
- matthew olson. we all live in parasocial hell. how many fake friends do you have?
- christopher allen. belongingness and para-social relationships
Last but not least, the apex of parasocial relating AI companions like: Replika