The student news site of Jonathan Alder High School

The Pioneer Press

The student news site of Jonathan Alder High School

The Pioneer Press

The student news site of Jonathan Alder High School

The Pioneer Press

Why celebrities deaths impact us

Poll taken by the students at JAHS about what celebrities impacted them the most.
Poll taken by the students at JAHS about what celebrities impacted them the most.

Many of us look up to celebrities–we follow their life through our screens. We see their day-to-day lives: what they eat, wear, and just what it’s like to be them, and we feel like we know them. As we follow them for longer and longer we start to build an emotional connection. Some of the celebrities that have died in recent years are Mathew Perry (2023), Andre Braugher (2023), Jimmy Buffett (2023), Queen Elizabeth (2022) and Cameron Boyce (2019). 

Many of us go through life with these celebrities. As we get older, they age right with us and we still look up to them. But many of us don’t really know them. We only really know what they post online to showcase their life. We see celebrities as we grow up on TV and in magazines. So eventually, when they pass many of us are greatly affected because of the deep emotional connection we’ve established. 

Senior Paige King had this type of relationship with Matthew Perry, which is why she was so shocked when she heard about his death earlier this year. “I knocked over my drink when I heard about it. That’s how in shock I was,” she says. “I was sad about it because I watched him as I grew up on the show ‘Friends.’ But then I thought I did not really know him personally; it was just very sad to see his death.” 

The connection between an individual and a celebrity is called a parasocial relationship. According to The National Register of Health Service Psychologists, parasocial is defined as, “one-sided relationships, where one person extends emotional energy, interest and time, and the other party, the persona, is completely unaware of the other’s existence. Parasocial relationships are most common with celebrities, organizations (such as sports teams) or television stars.” These relationships are something many people build without knowing how strong they are. 

Since social media has become popular, paparazzi and fandoms have also gotten more popular, and the intensity and accessibility of parasocial relationships have also grown. Instead of just seeing them on TV, in movies, or at concerts, we also see what they post on Instagram, TikTok, and other social media platforms. We follow celebrities or influencers so much we know their everyday lives and feel like we know them extremely well. This is how the parasocial relationships are built. 

Fan bases for celebrities are so strong they might even have names. For example, fans of Nicki Minaj are called Barbs, fans of Justin Bieber are Beliebers, and fans of Taylor Swift call themselves Swifties. Taylor Swift was actually the most-answered celebrity when we polled the Alder community about which future celebrity death would impact them the most. This makes sense, as she was recently named Time’s Person of the Year.  

Since there is an emotional connection when the influencer or celebrity passes we are affected. Any death is sad, but when you feel like you know the person it could be more difficult. The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center says “Not only do many people look up to celebrities and try to emulate behavior, we often find ways that we relate to them. We see things about them in ourselves, and when those celebrities die, we’re not only faced with our mortality, we lose that ability to relate.”

This is true for junior Teagan Whitaker, who was impacted by Kobe Bryant’s death in January of 2020. “Because I play basketball I looked up to Kobe. It was very shocking to hear about his and his daughter’s death,” she says. “After his death, I took more of what he talked about to heart. Just about leadership and loving what he did.”

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About the Contributor
Sidney Troesch, Staff Writer, Photography Editor, Editor
Sidney Troesch is a Senior in her third year in journalism. Outside of journalism, she can be found partaking in hobbies such as playing volleyball, photography, and outdoor activities. Additionally, she enjoys listening to her favorite band, Twenty-One Pilots, and watching Criminal Minds. For her future, she is interested in working in criminal justice or something to do with the outdoors. She is described as outgoing and kind by her friends and family.   

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