Selena Gomez currently has 140 million Instagram followers. That’s an insane number. But, really not that insane when you think about how many people love to stalk famous people. Famous people are like drugs or like family members. You can’t stop going back to them and wondering what they’re doing.
Psychology Today says, “…research shows that when people are amazing (or even good) in one area, this tends to transmit to perceptions in other areas.” We hold famous people on pedestals and think their lives are perfect.
Here’s a few reasons we obsessively follow famous people:
1.We feel like we know them.
The internet has made it so that we have an intensely intimate look at the lives of other people. When we see Kylie Jenner feeding her dogs, putting on makeup, or hanging out with her friends it feels like we know what she’s up to and what she’s like. We may not actually know her–she may be putting on a persona–but the feeling of intimacy is there. We can see them everyday, go into their personal lives, and know most details about them. Famous people become like friends to us, online.
2.Their lives seem superior to the normal person.
Celebrities have money, nice clothes, nice cars, and the coolest vacations. Following them obsessively becomes an activity of envy. We’re jealous that they have all the things we work really hard for every day. Most celebrities are younger because we idolize youth. Most celebrities are beautiful because we desire beauty. Celebrities are the manifestation of everything we desire: attention, power, wealth, ease, beauty, and youth. Their lives look perfect online, and we have a hard time seeing them as human. It’s strange to see a 20 year old with a Lamborghini, and we can’t look away.
3.We want to have knowledge of what other people talk about.
Most people around us follow celebrities and talk about them in daily language. And, we want to know what the hype is about. I wasn’t interested in the “In My Feelings” Challenge until everyone started referencing it and I needed to know what it was about. Famous people run into small fame at first and then it’s like a snowball effect. Once people start talking, momentum builds and names become household names.
4.Looking into celebrities’ lives fulfills social needs.
Abby Norman from themarysue.com says that following famous people online is an “intense one-sided interaction.” Even though celebrities don’t respond back to us when we look into their lives, we still are relating to another person. We can still feel a strong connection to a person who never responds to our admiration of them. We might cry when a singer releases a song, or feel deeply connected to something someone says in a book, or lust over an Instagram model’s picture. When we interact with their productions, we get our social needs met and start to feel like the celebrity is our friend or a mentor.
5.We might spend a lot of time with famous people.
In a world where most people in line at Starbucks are tapping through their phone, we spend a lot of time in taking all sorts of media from celebrities. We watch their movies, scroll through their Instagram’s, listen to their music and podcasts, and more. These platforms can reach people in intimate times such as right before bed or alone in the car.
Ultimately, famous people have such influence through getting people’s attention. They fulfill our need to be nosy or connect with another person or intake things for creative use. We have more famous people than ever before. This might be because there’s more room for success due to the internet. But, maybe it also means we’re more lonely. Who knows.