I am sure that most KPOP fans are familiar with the term parasocial relationship. I mean, if you are in a KPOP fandom then you probably have it as well. However, parasocial relationships are not confined to the KPOP community. It is applicable to celebrities, fictional characters, and sports teams. I have a parasocial relationship with a KPOP idol, do you?
During the pandemic, I started getting into KPOP. I had so much time to kill and there was an instant pull after watching a few music videos. Personally, I am a stan of NCT (Neo Culture Technology), and one of their members is Mark Lee. He is the one whom I have a relationship with. A parasocial one at that.
What is a parasocial relationship?
Have you ever been so attached to a certain personality that you even dream of them? Sometimes you even have the illusion that you are friends, and they understand you on a deeper level? If your answer is yes, then welcome to the club!
The club being a group of people having a one-sided relationship with idols where you spend emotional energy, time, and money over them. Meanwhile, the idols know you as Y/N or FANDOM NAME.
I started being Mark’s fan two years ago, on the 27th of June, and I never looked back. Obviously, he does not know me, and yet I always celebrate our supposed “anniversary.” I am aware that our relationship is purely imaginary, but I cannot stop obsessing over him.
I figure that one of the reasons why I am so attached to him is because the KPOP industry feeds into this narrative and capitalizes on it.
How does the industry profit from it?
NCT has this relay cams segment on YouTube where they record what they do in a day and the fans go crazy for them. I mean, getting a glimpse of what Mark could be doing on a normal day? Consider me seated!
This is one of their ways to capitalize on the relationships that fans build with their idols. One YouTube video of a single member can get millions of views and considering that there are many of them in their group… $$$!
For something more extreme, there is an application called Lysn that allows fans to subscribe to its messaging service, Bubble. Basically, the artists send their Bubble messages, and the fans receive them through the app. Take note, this is a paid service, P195 per month. There is even a Y/N function where it will appear as if the artists specifically call you by your name, giving the illusion that you are having a personal conversation with the artist.
It is all just marketing tactic, I know. But as someone who is genuinely in love with Mark Lee, let us just say I could have bought a couple of pairs of shoes with the money I have spent on Bubble.
Do not even get me started on paid video calls with the idols where you spend tens of thousands for a raffle (!!) and have the chance to speak with them for two minutes. I know, there is no certainty of winning and yet fans spend so much for them. Mental.
Don’t fall down the rabbit hole.
It is typically normal to have a parasocial relationship with a KPOP idol or any public figure, as long as it does not affect your real-life relationships. And, your social ability to interact with actual people. And, your financial stability… and your emotional one as well. Overall, it is totally fine, just keep your head clear of delusional tendencies and you are good- like what I am doing with my feelings for Mark. (Not really).
Idolizing celebrities is not inherently bad or unhealthy if you maintain personal limitations and boundaries. Remember, actual people in your life exist. Do not limit yourself to relationships that you build with the people that you see on the screen of your phone. Also, a fair reminder, do not get overly attached- they do not know you.
Raine is a writer who finds comfort in mornings as they are more conducive in getting her creative juices flow- as the sun rises, so does her level of productivity. She spends a lot of her free time daydreaming about roaming the streets of Paris and even tries to learn the language of love. To put it more bluntly, she is a writer who sometimes writes.