When A Celebrity Obsession Goes Too Far: The Danger of Parasocial Relationships


Content warning: there are mentions of grooming in this article. Please read with caution.

During quarantine, Twitch streaming became very popular. Tens of thousands of people tuned in to watch others play games, such as Minecraft. Twitch’s viewership as a whole increased by 10% in March 2020. Sometimes, these viewers will feel like their favorite streamers’ friends, even though their favorite people do not know who they are personally. If you have ever been an extreme fan of someone who doesn’t actually know you in real life, you may have been in a parasocial relationship.

Parasocial relationships are one-sided relationships in which one party puts in tons of emotional energy and interest, and the other party is barely or not at all aware. (Some examples being, stans or fangirls). These relationships are very common with celebrities such as actors, social media influencers, and even sports teams. However, there is a line between inspiration and obsession; when parasocial relationships are detrimental to one’s mental health and are dangerous.

Parasocial relationships can have benefits, such as inspiration. But there are also drawbacks, such as anxiety, loneliness, stalking, and even sexual harassment. Sexual harassment of female streamers is especially prominent. The most popular female streamer worldwide, named Pokimane, says she was stalked and sexually harassed for years by toxic and obsessive fans. Even though the fans never met her in person, the consistent sexual harassment was still rampant in her community by parasocial fans.

Another female streamer who goes by the name of  “Amouranth” was stalked by a fan, who even went as far as to show up at her house. The stalker allegedly traveled from Europe to Texas just to stay in a nearby hotel and go to her house. Apparently, the stalker also “camped out” at a Starbucks near where she receives her mail. Cops eventually showed up and arrested the stalker, but the stalking went on for 44 days.

What about when the celebrity is the problematic one?

A popular but highly controversial YouTuber who goes by the name of “Dream” has allegations coming out in regard to grooming, one of which includes a 17-year-old. Screenshots were leaked on Twitter and became viral. A Twitter user who goes by the name of Anastasia said that Dream tried to contact her when she was 17 years of age.

“I’m not here to fully prove my experience that I know happened. I don’t care about showing every receipt. Here’s me telling him I’m 18 SOON (not yet). I also believe I clearly had ’17’ in my bio the same time I have 20 now. I have him asking for my snap and we talked about school.”

Dream responded to the allegations via a TwitLonger on his private Twitter account and claimed that he hinted at taking legal action. He also stated he met her when she was 18 years of age.

As of the time of writing, these allegations have gone viral, and there is a plan to settle the dispute in court. However, these are just allegations, so please remember that.

Fans quickly came to Dream’s side to defend him from the allegations, without listening to the victims at hand. They immediately dismissed the allegations to defend their favorite YouTuber on the internet. Numerous death threats were given to those who condemned Dream for his behavior. Here are some of the tweets that were posted from his community:

“if u wanna look from the bright side, there is no bright side in this situation other than that we’re gonna see him in suit”

“Sorry to break it to you but 17 years old is definitely not a kid.”

As of January 27th, he and his friends’ YouTube channels have stayed active. The controversy has yet to be addressed by himself or his friends.

Please stay safe on the internet. Click here to learn about the warning signs of online grooming.