In the modern world there are many side effects to using social media at a very high rate that we are just finding out about. The ever growing popularity of social media influencers who give us an inside look at what it’s like to be / be friends with a famous person leads to the creation of a parasocial relationship. Parasocial relationships are one sided relationships mostly between influencers and fans where one person (almost exclusively fans) believe that they are in some sort of relationship with the other person while the other person doesn’t reciprocate.
The people that are the most susceptible to these relationships are people that already have mental health issues that lead to them having trouble with creating relationships, anxiety, depression etc. These relationships can create additional problems like people that spend massive amounts of money donating to their favorite streamer trying to get some attention and neglecting their own well being. This is not to say that donating to streamers or enjoying social media influencers is a problem, it only becomes a problem when it becomes obsessive. This obsessive behavior can lead to situations where a fan will become a stalker or even intimidate / threaten an influencer because of their feeling of entitlement to attention. An example of this is the streamer Sweet Anita who is known for her Just Chatting and Gaming content with her biggest draw being that fact that she has Tourette’s syndrome. Anita has had a stalker since mid-2019 and has been assaulted, but the stalker was released with a warning. The fact that these stalkers for the most part are not punished for their actions because of the difficulty with proving stalking leads to them not realising that what they are doing is wrong.
Parasocial relationships are very unhealthy and can be very dangerous but unfortunately we live in a society that shames people with mental health and people have to resort to these dangerous coping mechanisms. The solution to this problem is to create a society that is more accepting and understanding of mental health and promotes healthy healing mechanisms such as therapy or medication instead of just forcing people to deal with it by themselves.