Live streamings hand in parasocial relationships

Putting interest, emotional energy into another person who does not know they exist

The rise of live streaming has caused many to find new interactions with their favorite creators. While this form of media is exciting to engage in and make people feel connected to the characters, bonds with people who don’t actually know their viewers is unhealthy for audiences to cling on to.

These bonds are also known as parasocial relationships. It is described as a person putting interest and emotional energy into another person who does not know they exist.

While almost every person has participated in one, just by liking a celebrity or TV show, the growth of these relationships with live streaming has kept people unchecked of the amount of emotional energy they put into their favorite streamers.

It can be a lot easier for fans to feel closer to these kinds of celebs because of increased chat interaction and live streaming offers. Websites such as Twitch and Youtube allow for the person streaming to read messages from the audience and make it feel like they are talking to you personally.

Many streamers have text-to-speech options where fans donate to have a message read out-loud and the content creator can immediately respond to. Many fans often ask for their favorites to say “hi” to them or ask to wish them a happy birthday. Others ask for advice or suggestions of names for new pets.

On multiple occasions, fans give supporting messages that the streamer “saved them” or helped them out of a dark place. People feel comfortable enough with a character to give such drastic statements of support.

This kind of connection cannot be received through an actor on a TV show or a singer who puts out music. Being able to have true interaction with people you look up to is not seen as easily possible or has to happen from buying expensive meet-and-greet tickets.

In every single stream, creators can interact with fans without the audience having to spend a lot of money. When people can feel like they have a connection with people they look up to within their free time and inexpensively, they will only want to continue to evolve that.

However, fans must understand that this increased interaction makes them no less of a celebrity who sees this as a parasocial relationship.

Popular content creators such as Ludwig and Jschlatt have talked about their frustration with feeling as though fans may be too connected to streamers.

On Jschlatt’s YouTube channel “theweeklyslap”, he posted a video titled “Goodbye for now.” to detail how he feels concerned for people who gain immense attachment to their characters. He says that, “You’re a number for me. I’m sorry. I don’t love you.”

While not every content creator may choose these words or be as straightforward, streamers are no different from characters on a TV show. Jschlatt even says he wants you to treat it like one– be entertained for a while, but also be able to disconnect from the media.

It’s fantastic people found celebrities they feel they can relate to, but it is true. They don’t love fans personally. They love the support and that people care enough to tune-in, but in the end, everyone is just one in however millions of followers they have.