The recent news of Migos rapper Takeoff’s death has emotionally affected the entire music community and his fans. Death is inevitable but senseless violence has become more prevalent than ever within the rap industry. The constant loss makes us question why fans feel so close to celebrity death. Read more about the psychology connected to this experience inside.
Is Rihanna your best friend in your head? Do you feel like you’re coaching the Lakers from your living room? You are most likely experiencing a parasocial relationship. The reality is we do not know celebrities and public figures, yet we feel so connected to them.
In the 90’s, fans recall two of the biggest deaths in the Hip Hop community with iconic rappers Biggie and Tupac Shakur. It shook up the entire entertainment industry. Fans across the world mourned the loss of these major rap figures by holding candlelight vigils, painting murals and speaking out about the violent acts.
Today, rap fans are witnessing this deep loss more frequently amongst their idols. In four years alone, the music industry has mourned the loss of countless influential rappers. One Twitter user posted the names of artists who have died to senseless violence, mental health struggles and other health related battles. Nipsey Hussle, Young Dolph, Mac Miller, Pop Smoke and PnB Rock are amongst the long list of names fans have been forced to grieve in such a short amount of time.
The idea of grieving someone you don’t know may sound and feel strange, but it is completely normal. It is said to be associated with having a parasocial relationship to someone.
What is a parasocial relationship?
Parasocial relationships are one-sided relationships, where one person extends emotional energy, interest and time, and the other party, the persona, is completely unaware of the other’s existence. Parasocial relationships are most common with celebrities, organizations (such as sports teams) or television stars.
What’s an example of a parasocial relationship?
Another example of this is if you feel like you’re an honorary friend of the “Living Single” crew, imagining yourself spending time together in their notable living room space. This is you experiencing a parasocial interacton.
Is this healthy?
According to Women’s Health, Parasocial relationships are virtually healthy because it recognizes your ability to be inspired and encouraged. It also shows that you feel connected to others, which is a perfectly normal and healthy human experience.
Associate professor in the Psychology Department at Wellesley College, Sally Theran, PhD says, “Unlike people who you actually have relationships with in real life, this person is never going to be mean, unkind, or reject you.”
Don’t Feel Bad For Being Human
In short, don’t allow others to make you feel bad for mourning the loss of your idols just because you didn’t know them personally.
The world nearly stopped in 2009 when Michael Jackson died. That collective loss was felt from one region to the next, because the legendary singer had impacted the lives of millions.
These recent instances of celebrity death are no different. While these deaths are extremely tragic, it is important to recognize that we are all feeling collective pain whenever it happens and that is a natural human experience.
It is okay to feel. We are sending love to all of the families and fans who are affected by the tragic loss of Takeoff and the many other entertainers we have loss over the years. Be well and heal.
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