Social Media & the rise of Celebrity Worship Syndrome

A few years ago I wrote on the impact Celebrity Worship Syndrome (CWS) was having on people.   Whilst the syndrome has been around for a while the impact social media has had on its increase cannot go unnoticed.

Prior to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like, the only access to these celebrities’ was through television interviews and what we read in magazines.

Now nearly every celebrity has a social media account on nearly every platform you can think of. We have more access to them than we ever did. We see their lives unfold almost instantaneously. What they are doing during their day, what they eat, what country they’re in and most of the time a sneak peek into their homes.

We know that CWS is when a person becomes attached to a celebrity’s personal and professional life, finding commonalities between their life and the celebrity and creating a psychological bond with that celebrity.

This vast array of information has perhaps led to an intensifying of CWS. The access we have been granted by most of these celebrities has allowed for fans to have a sneak peek into their world. However when it comes to someone that has the syndrome this sneak peek may hold more to them than just a tiny glimpse.

The more they post on social media about their daily lives the more we find ourselves having a connection. Sure for most people we would think ‘oh isn’t that nice, I do that too’. However for people with this syndrome they develop a more personal relationship, finding commonalities and connections that most of us would not have considered.

Dr Mark Griffiths – Professor of Behavioural Addiction at Nottingham Trent University claimed in an article in the International Business Times that he believed that social media has contributed to the rise of the syndrome as celebrities can interact with their fans regularly via their social accounts.

To it’s extremes it can lead to fans stalking their favourite celebrities everywhere they go. An example of how social media can encourage fans to track down celebrities was given by a Justin Beiber fan earlier this year when the singer visited Australia. Miss Del Rosario said in that article “You can find hotels and such from looking at the details in the background, listening to what’s happening, and the signs.” This is a perfect example as to how easily accessible celebrities have become via social media.

In another article psychologist Meredith Fuller suggests that the influx of information regarding celebrities that we now have access to has made our obsession with celebrities more extensive. She even goes on to say “We get a lot of our identity from them. We get visual clues of these glamorous lives and a little bit of us wants to imagine we lead [the same life]..They’ve got the money, contacts, parties and amazing clothes, so we want to relate to them.”

Whilst for people like Miss Del Rossario who knows when to respectfully stop following people like Justin Beiber, this is not always the case with some people.

In recent times the extremes of peoples celebrity obsession has lead to the murder of former US voice contestant Christina Grimmie who was killed after a concert by a deranged fan. The killer stalked her social media accounts and followed her every move.

Whilst Kim Kardashians Paris fiasco was not related to CWS you can see how the dangers of these celebrities playing out their lives on social platforms can present it has lead to people knowing where they are, what they are doing and the valuable items celebrities have with them or in their homes allowing them to be exposed to many different attacks, whether it be fans stalking them or being robbed and their lives being put in danger.

Whilst social media is a great tool to have your voice heard and your brand promoted it has also created a platform where for some interaction with celebrities and their lives can sometimes lead to a blur between reality and how much we invest our emotions into their world.

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