I’m back again with a “brief” 3 AM thought post based on a search inquiry that brought someone to this blog a few days ago:
Apparently, someone wanted to know how to escape the confusing maze of a parasocial relationship. I’ve talked about parasocial relationships before through my BTS World post and through my BTS survey results and there is definitely more to come. Sorry to anyone looking forward to those kind of posts and are hating how BTS-centric it is, but I gotta tell you now, BTS will still keep coming up.
When I saw this search, I really thought about how you could escape a parasocial relationship if you’re tired of what I assume is the emotional investment you’ve put forth time and time again. I’ll try my best to add my own input to this conversation, but I must say that a better and more popular K-pop blogger, Kpopalypse, has already written a post called, “How to fall out of love with a K-pop idol,” which as you can guess, is about emotionally detaching yourself from your fave but also K-pop in general. Conversely, he also has a post called, “How to be a fan of a Korean pop idol,” which is the exact opposite of the previous post mentioned. Check out both as they provide good advice in a humorous, if not a bit cunty way (hey, that’s his style. Don’t knock it until you try it.)
But let’s clarify, what is a parasocial relationship? It’s basically the distant yet familiar relationships that you share with your favourite celebrities, tv personalities, bloggers (!), streamers, etc. A relationship where you know them like a close friend and they don’t know you even exist. It’s a relationship that can become more give than take and can leave one mentally and emotionally exhausted if they’re not too careful. Or perhaps, you may not even be fully aware of the affects the relationship is having on you until it’s too late.
In the case of K-pop, it is understandably easy to be swept up in this kind of relationship and be plunged headfirst into icy waters without being given the chance to breath once and still you say, “This is fine.” You may not even realise you’re drowning because the reward – rather that be that rush of adrenaline at seeing your fave in that cute/sexy outfit is too breathtaking or being lucky enough to have 10 seconds to video chat with your oppar or seeing your faves win again and again in the industry after knowing how hard they struggled and competed against all odds – can stave off the consequences of falling so deep into such a relationship.
Don’t feel bad or so hard on yourself though. K-pop is literally built on promoting and perpetuating such a relationship. If we didn’t feel so connected to our faves, the whole industry would suffer. K-pop idols have to sell themselves as our virtual boyfriends and girlfriends and must appear available, that’s why dating scandals are so controversial to this day (which is a pity.)
Okay, but how to leave it all behind? I can hear you ask impatiently. For me, I suppose I would chalk it down to this list:
1. Finding another hobby
This is at the top of the list because it was the first thing that came to mind. For me, personally, K-pop wears me out easily especially when I fall into a depression, so I usually turn to other hobbies or interest. For instance, I started up a J-pop blog, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but finally got to do it in December. My J-pop blog, or in full, my Japanese popular culture blog doesn’t just encompass the music, but films and anime as well and eventually games if I can get around to it. This helps take my mind off of K-pop. I also enjoy watching some of my favourite YouTubers who are usually gamers or commentary channels (I don’t follow any K-pop related channel on my main account).
You can also stream, bullet journal, read a book, draw, etc. There is so many hobbies you can do. Here’s a neat list of hobbies you can look through, maybe you’ll find one that catches your eye that you hadn’t thought of?
The bird app can be hell. I’ve learned this during my year being on Twitter and definitely had to log off many a time to mentally destress. However, if you still feel the draw to go onto your social media accounts then I’d advise to just unfollow any accounts related to your faves (if it’s just an idol or group you’re trying to drop) or any K-pop related account in general. Even mine, if you’re like the 5 people who follow me, I won’t mind at all! You can always follow them back if you want to, but if they’ll be hard to find again or they’re private accounts, then muting them may be the way to go.
3. Find another group/idol to stan
This is advice only towards those who want to remain on the K-pop train but want to detach themselves from their faves. It may be hard to jump of the isolated island of your favourite group or oppar/unnir especially if you think there’ll be no one quite like them BUT don’t underestimate your own tastes and DON’T be afraid to expand. It’s ridiculous the amount of groups debuting per year in K-pop these days, so I’m sure you can find one to stan. Hell, don’t forget the older generation either – you may have overlooked a group from the early 2000s’ or 2010s’ that isn’t talked about much anymore.
4. Find another genre to get into
Similar to the above except we’re talking about music genres here, baby. Like I said previously, I’m into J-pop and over on my blog, I’ve started to do a weekly review of J-pop songs so you can hop on over there and see if any catch your fancy. If not, you can try Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese pop or just regular old pop. You can listen to rock, metal, indie, rap, trap, or even vocaloid, but there is something for everyone. Classic is also a nice classy option~
5. Remember that your fave won’t be hurt if you leave him/her/them
K-pop idols are keenly aware of their place amongst their fandom. They know that fans can come and go as they please and that is way they and their companies love to shill out as much fan pleasing content as much as they can especially starting out. Still, even the big boys and girls like BTS and TWICE do their best to interact with fans here and there because they still need that continued support even though we all know they could literally drop off the face of the earth for a whole year and their fandom would still be there. It’s a rational line of thinking but since when is K-pop rational?
Even the biggest group like BTS probably are prepping for a drop in popularity eventually especially when they begin to enlist for their conscription. It’s understandable as the K-pop machine has drilled into the minds of idols and fans alike that it is a necessity to tirelessly crank out content and show appreciation for each other to stay relevant. Yet, you gotta remember, you’re just one fan. I would say unless you’re like the 1% that actually makes a noticeable difference in their fandom or something then you won’t be missed and even then I hesitate to say that. I don’t mean to make anyone feel bad when I say that, I just want you to realise that you can let go without fear. Just relax and focus on yourself.
If your fave is a good person and cares for the fans, then he/she wouldn’t want to see you struggling so hard to continue to like them or cling onto a relationship that is clearly hurting you in some way. I’ve seen enough idols who caution against fandom extremism and treating them as close personal friends to know that even if not all idols can speak out, they also wish for their fans to live their own lives that aren’t centered around them, the idols. And if you want to come back into the fandom or check in on what your fave is doing, then they’ll still most likely still be around in some form even if it takes you like 5 years to come back.
I hope that helped a bit. I realise it wasn’t a lot but I could probably go on. If you want more of my intake on this then hit me up on Twitter or request a part 2, I don’t know.
I will say that it is not easy to suddenly detach yourself from an idol especially one you’ve built up such a solid relationship with. Rationally speaking, I’ve asked myself many a time why I feel any sort of attraction to this…guy…
Logically, I know nothing will come out of having such a parasocial relationship with such an idol especially one from BTS, but what can I do? I’ve struggled and beat myself (mentally and physically) over and over for having any sort of attraction since I should know better. I’m sure it’s just hormones and whatnot. Yet, I know it’ll pass eventually.
So one more piece of advice:
6. Be patient with yourself and let life do it’s thing.
I have gotten some really good advice from Kpopalypse about this, but something from another internet stranger sticks with me to this day. It’s kind of long, but I want to share it for anyone is like me and still wrestling with his/her feelings over the complicated and convoluted parasocial relationship between fan and idol:
People tend to label someone once their first impression is complete, and then they more or less ignore everything that person says unless they have some reason to listen to or observe them. And they think of the person, they think only of the label, a sticky note with two or three lines of text on it…
I should mention that there’s nothing inherently wrong with having a fairly simplistic perception of someone (A “Sticky note” in your mind). It really can’t be helped, our brains are just a few pounds of helly, and we have a lot to think about, there’s only so much capacity there after all. Moral of the story – remember who you think a person is, and who they really are, and [sic] different things, even when you think you know someone, you really just have a sticky note covered in observations, and maybe things that they’ve said. That’s definitely not a complete and accurate description of who that person really is. And you really should bear that in mind, and try to keep your sticky note up to date, bad things can happen if you don’t.fuck YG (yes, that was his or her username).
And in response to be saying I beat myself over being attracted towards any idol (but especially that dude up there):
You really shouldn’t They do an extremely good job cosplaying as beautiful, perfect people. They put on an image that is extremely attractive, and they want you to fall in love with it. That’s the business model. The attraction is completely normal. Just remember that sticky note for Jungkook, and who he really is, are different things. Mostly because the extent of your note is probably “He’s hot af.” At least that is factually true.fuck YG
Scary how he guessed that it was Jungkook because I hadn’t mentioned him by name though I did allude to him heavily by saying I was attracted to the arguably the most popular member in the biggest boy group in the world right now…but I almost feel like that could be any of the BTS maknaes…or am I wrong? (I probably am).
Anyways, I hope this post helped someone. I really appreciated the help from this nice internet stranger who wrote a LOT more but I had to condense to those two important facets. In turn, I hope I also helped someone with this message. Take care everyone and remember to look out after yourselves. Don’t sell yourselves short because you’re capable of more than you realise (take it from a complete and utter loser like me or not, if that is discouraging.)