Do You Have Parasocial Relationships?

tv relationships

A recent article in Darling Magazine by Keli Finnerty-Myers really caught my attention. I read it right after the opening weekend of Orange Is The New Black Season 2 on Netflix. The weekend that I camped out on my laptop and binge-watched the entire season before going back to work on Monday morning. Somebody tell me I’m not the only person who did that…

Anyways, the article talks about our relationship to celebrities or fictional characters from television series/books/etc that we feel ourselves connecting to on a personal level. Even though we never really meet them we start to feel as if we grow to know them better the more we’re around them. I fall right into this category, I get completely attached to characters and often think of them as people I know. I am the type of person who cries during season finales regardless if it’s a sad ending or not. I mean when Michael Scott left The Office, when Monica and Chandler moved out of the city, and when Carrie Bradshaw hung up her last call from Mr. Big, I was a total wreck. I do not like hate good-bye’s. Real or not.

It may sound a little crazy, I mean it’s just TV right? But if you think about the hours we spend investing our time and emotion into these stories, it’s really not so crazy. These feelings of closeness to people we have never met are called parasocial relationships. With all the information provided by the internet and media today, it’s more and more common for people to have these types of relationships. Can you think of someone you’ve never met that you may know more about than someone you work with everyday? These parasocial relationships are normal, but take note of how they influence you. TV “friends” of ours can influence our behaviour in similar ways that real friendships can. After spending the weekend with someone you might notice yourself acting or thinking like them. The next time you binge watch a whole season in a weekend (thanks to Netflix) think about how you might be influenced by your relationship to the characters, and prepare yourself for a period of grief once you run out of episodes and you’re forced to say goodbye to your newly formed friends.

Do you have any parasocial relationships?
[Photo via Stephanie Sterjovski]