Has social media taken celebrity obsession to a new level?

Celebrity obsession has always been a thing. But in recent times, crowding around the TV screaming with your mates has turned into life-consuming stalking via smartphones. There’s even a name for the condition; Celebrity Worship Syndrome (it’s on Wikipedia, so it must be real…) and many teenage girls and boys are jumping into ‘fandoms’ and becoming dangerously obsessed with their celebrity idols.

celebrity obsession social media

Beliebers and One Directoners are just two of the well-known fandom communities that exist over Twitter, with constant (and it really is constant) tweeting about their idols to each other, desperately trying to get noticed. Some fans feel pressured once in the community, to know schedules, spend money meeting/seeing idols and to know every single intricate detail about their lives – to the point of absolute obsession. ‘Celebrity Worship Syndrome’ research conducted by the University of Leicester suggests that 36% of people have now suffered some form of the condition – with the number set to increase in the future (try out this quiz to see if you could suffer from CWS…) The accessibility and availability of information, schedules and a fandom community has made it all too easy for people to believe they really do have a connection with celebrities, and the ‘relationship’ can really impact a young person’s mental health and self-esteem.

Some have even compared online celebrity obsession with religious rituals; staying up until 3am to watch shows, following idols wherever they go, and looking up to celebrities like religious figures. As ridiculous as it sounds celebrity stalking isn’t just life-consuming for celebrities, the individuals involved really do value online fan relationships, and for impressionable young teens this could become a real problem in the future as technology evolves.

This obsession doesn’t stop at death either, in fact it only worsens. The recent death of Robin Williams spurred a huge Twitter outreach, creating a real-time timeline of his work and life. Fans described the death as a painful time, grieving and mourning as if he were a ‘real’ family member in their life. This was also seen with Peaches Geldof and Michael Jackson, but the comparison and change over the past 5 years is astonishing, and it seems some celebrities are more talked about after their death than when actually alive. Going back to the ‘fandom,’ communities give fans the opportunity to mourn together collectively for celebrities, creating a direct connection with their lives.

The problem here is, when will it end? As social media connections and platforms improve, who knows just how close individuals and celebrities can get online… So what do you think? Has social media allowed celebrity obsession to go ‘too far’? Or is this just the new ‘normal’? We want to hear what you have to say.

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