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The perils and promises of parasocial relationships

A woman and a dog watch a video by chef and YouTuber Caroline Artiss on her YouTube page.
A woman and a dog watch a video by chef and YouTuber Caroline Artiss on her YouTube page.

Recently, the internet mourned a TikTok-famous cat named Pot Roast. Fans from around the world came together in their grief for an animal none of them ever met.

It’s an example of a phenomenon that’s spread alongside the internet and certainly during the pandemic:parasocial relationships. They’re one-way connections people can have with a celebrity, online personality, or even a cat.

Given the pandemic, a 60-percent uptick in our screen use moved many of our social outlets to the digital realm. One study found this resulted in stronger parasocial connections to compensate for the lack of real-life interactions.

For this installment of Extremely Online, we investigate howthese relationships form and their growing influence.

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