Parasocial Relationships and the Internet: from K-Pop Stans to Swifties

Courtesy of GQ

When scrolling on TikTok, or any social media app for that matter, eventually you’ll come across an edit‒ either for music, a TV show, or movie. Usually to trending songs, these edits are fast-paced, well-designed, and made by fans of a certain community to celebrate a piece of media. With love and admiration, these edits are harmless and revering, but when does being a fan go too far?

With the internet and accessibility of information, relationships with celebrities develop so much easier compared to the days of Elvis and the Beatles. An idol’s life is documented 24/7 by fans, paparazzi, or their own publicity agents. With all of this information in the palms of people’s hands and the impossibility of escaping it, parasocial relationships are bound to form. These relationships are one-sided, where one person is emotionally devoted while the other usually doesn’t know their existence. It’s like a “fan-girl,” but more than just a simple crush, but to where it becomes idolization of a celebrity or group; to where that person or people can’t do anything wrong and must be defended.


“Never underestimate the power of K-pop Twitter and a good fancam.” – Popbuzz


K-pop stans are considered the most ruthless, dragging people on Twitter to defend their BTS biases. Twitter allows fans a space of community, but also a place to organize, leading to a  mob mentality mindset. In large numbers, fandoms have great power to make sure their idols succeed, are revered, and don’t face criticism. For example, rapper CupcakKe was forced to leave Twitter after receiving death threats from BTS stans. After making sexual comments about Jungkook, she started getting hateful comments from BTS stans. This goes to show how harmful and extreme people’s actions are online to protect their idols. Not to mention, BTS fans also sexualize the band members with their own fanfics and infantilization of grown men. 

Courtesy of The Guardian

Swifties, Taylor Swift fans, are the prime examples of defending their celebrity. When Swift’s album folklore received a 8.0/10 by Pitchfork, her fans quickly doxxed the author of the review. They’ve also bombarded other publications like the Guardian and New York Times over their reviews. 

Community and organization on Twitter has led to good outcomes like political activism and social change. BTS ARMY managed to match the band’s $1 million donation to support the Black Lives Matter movement in just a single day. But these good deeds are countered by harmful and extreme actions that breed a toxic environment. The online bullying of celebrites or other fans can drive them off the platform or even suicide, like K-Pop idol U;nee. Anonymity on the internet offers people a shield to hide behind, but behind every screen is a person who’s affected by what they see on the internet. No idol, celebrity, or pop-star is worth bullying someone else over.