Since the start of the pandemic, people have had to change the way they interact with others. This has led to an increase in screen time, the use of social media, and the digitization of human interactions.
It’s been over a year since the first lockdown was applied, and the general public has had to adapt in unique ways. Apps like Party House, Zoom, TikTok, and ClubHouse have kept people connected.
Now we are in a situation where many people are able to easily create and maintain parasocial relationships. Let’s analyze this in more detail, will you?
What are Parasocial Relationships?
Parasocial relationships are connections formed through online interactions and digital experiences. YouTubers tend to form strong parasocial relationships with their audiences because their fans are invested in their lives.
They interact with each other and have shared digital experiences over a long period of time. Parasocial relationships are one of the reasons BeeHive fiercely supports and defends Beyoncé – an ultra superstar most of them will never meet in person.
Likewise, the average person can bond deeply with others without ever meeting them in person. This happens more often with social media platforms that make us feel connected to others with constant updates on the lives and thoughts of others.
A whole romantic relationship and friendship can be born and cultivated through online interactions.
What platforms help form parasocial relationships?
This is a complicated question because there are many ways to form and maintain parasocial relationships. Some of them are more common than others. Here are the first two that we can analyze.
Over the past 5 years, more and more online communities have formed to bring together like-minded people, without geographic boundaries.
One of them is the Os.me Online Community which was created for the disciples of Om Swami to learn more about wellness and spirituality. With a reach of over 90,000 users, a survey was conducted to analyze whether Osme members felt connected to each other.
72.4% of Osme members say they feel connected to each other. They’ve never met, but they connect through the articles they write about their personal experiences.
Platforms like Medium also give users the ability to share personal / business articles with their followers. It is possible to follow someone for years and to feel connected to them through the “shared experiences” you have had over time.
Through blogs, short articles and comments, people can form communities and feel connected to each other. This is extremely important in times of social isolation.
According to Manure Rack Trends, from August 2020 to March 2021, there was a sharp increase in articles written on online communities. Over 5,500 articles were written per month on this topic because people were looking for a way to connect with others.
Social media platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and many more have kept the world connected. People don’t even have to be famous or famous to enjoy interacting with others.
In this generation, it’s not uncommon for people to even bond with their Twitter followers and end up building lasting relationships with them. When you have the same interests and share the same sense of humor, then it is easier to lay the groundwork for a parasocial relationship.
Some people go so far as to marry people they meet on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter. Others have fun adventures, great life lessons, or good friends.
When it was nearly impossible to meet people in person to network, connect and have fun, social media platforms have bridged that gap and allowed people to stay ‘social’.
Can Parasocial Relationships Make Sense?
Whether a relationship is meaningful or not is rather subjective. It depends on what the person values and considers important in a relationship.
However, most people can agree that a meaningful parasocial relationship would include some of the following traits:
- Positive interactions
- People feel connected to each other
- Shared experiences
- Pleasant interactions
- Consistent and reliable support or advice
The list can be changed depending on whether the parasocial relationship is professional, inspirational, romantic, or platonic. In a recent survey of Osme members, 57.3% said they had developed meaningful parasocial relationships with other members of their online community.
It is possible to form significant parasocial bonds, but this is not always the case. Some of these interactions are superficial and uneventful. But studies show that it’s actually possible to form meaningful parasocial relationships with people in an online community.
We have found ways to adapt to unprecedented circumstances over which we have no control. Parasocial relationships are more common than ever before and are likely to become even more popular.
Whether it is good or not is also subjective.
There are those who could have slipped into deep depression had it not been for the parasocial relationships that encouraged and engaged them. This aspect of the digital age we live in deserves to be explored further!
Interesting related article: “What is social media?” The effects of social networks “