You are surely familiar with the phenomenon of ‘haters’ and you may have felt that you hate someone without knowing that person. Famous media figures regularly receive unkind or even hateful reactions from followers (or non-followers) who do not know them personally. But why do people do it?
Dutch celebrities, political figures and other media figures are regularly confronted with it. A person may feel envy towards such a person for no reason. Without knowing this person. Now, you’re not required to like everyone, but if you’re prone to really offending someone or leaving hateful comments, then there’s definitely something going on.
Antiparasocial relationship with celebrities
An antiparasocial relationship, psychology calls it. Where someone gets a negative fascination with a well-known figure. Falling in love with or being a fan of an artist is what we call a parasocial relationship. Both forms only come from one side and are therefore not reciprocal.
Psychologist Tara Quin explains our British Subwaycolleagues, that there are a number of reasons why we think we know a famous person. The escape from a traumatic life or reality plays a role in this, among other things. “But the line between healthy and comfortable can become blurred and even harmful,” says the psychologist.
Hatred or anger towards a celebrity or public figure
But social media also makes it easy for people to connect with the lives and norms and values of public figures. Although we have never met them. “There is evidence that people who find it more difficult to have social interactions in everyday life are more attracted to following people on social media. There is less fear in this and it is soon pleasant.” According to her, people with low self-esteem are more likely to enter into an (anti)parasocial relationship.
The psychologist emphasizes that there are signs by which you can recognize an antiparasocial relationship. “Spending more time online, talking a lot about the particular celebrity, changing plans to see or follow a celebrity, and showing signs of anger or irritation towards a particular celebrity.”
Losing in hate comments on social media
Additionally, Quin explains that such an obsession can seep into someone’s personal life. Because time, energy or even money is spent on this. When we convince ourselves that it’s ‘our right’ to have all kinds of information about a famous person, Quin says that’s wrong. “We compare it to a real relationship, with the associated expectations. Of which hatred and jealousy can also bubble up. For example, if we don’t get enough updates about a media figure’s life. You can then experience rejection, anger or even low self-esteem.”
According to the psychologist, we have to admit that sometimes we have inappropriate and emotional reactions. “Acknowledge the resulting behavior. And work on valuing your own life. Maybe it’s time to take a closer look at your own relationships, a job, hobbies and interests. So you create more purposeful involvement in your own everyday life.” If you regularly lose yourself in hate speech or hateful comments on social media, Quin recommends taking a break from social media. “For example, doing self-care instead of scrolling.” And in a rut, it’s advisable to change the routines of your life.
Focus on your own life
When was the last time you did something spontaneous? If you can’t remember, maybe it’s time to try something new. And to draw your attention back to the ‘now’ and your own life. Quin: “Get moving and get outside. As simple as it sounds, it can help your overall mental health and well-being and reduce the chances of ‘escaping’ your own life.” And don’t forget that hateful or unfriendly tweets, Instagram messages or Facebook comments are also read by an employer or other acquaintances.
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