Parasocial Breakups

Posted: September 9, 2023

Few years ago1, I would be really quick to join any community that seemed even remotely interesting. Dozens of forums, websites, etc. If it had anything that was remotely adjacent to my interests I would sign up. I was only ever deeply connected to a very small number of them, but I would be quick to join. You’d make friends over time with other members. Play games with them. It was a good time. Sometimes a website would shut down, and you’d just hop on to the next one. No one was on just one service, so tagging along with the people you connected with wasn’t difficult. The communities were usually small enough that this worked.

Then the mega communities emerged. Complete with vast amount of people that you get to “know” over time. And you get to be a number on their profile page. Over many years you develop many one-sided relationships with people who work on really cool projects; make great art; incredible engineers; funny as heck. Your mind tricks you to think they’re very close to you as you them on cheer on through their challenges and emphathize with their problems. Then suddenly the service decides they want more money out of these relationships. Everyone scatters. Gone. Off in different directions.

I am sure that avoiding these relationships would be healthier for my mental health. I have pulled back a lot on social media in last few years. Even still, it’s a weird sense of loss for people I don’t know.

  1. Oh, no… much closer to 20. ↩︎