Constantly showcased in magazines, newspapers and television, celebrities are inevitably idolized by the general public and play a large role in American culture. Nonetheless, some fans have a tendency to take things too far, hurting not only themselves but the celebrities they worship.
According to Psychology Today, fans who obsess over celebrities’ every action may fall under celebrity worship syndrome, an obsessive addictive disorder in which a person becomes overly involved with the details of a celebrity’s personal and professional life.
There are three different independent phases of celebrity worship syndrome: entertainment-social, intense-personal and borderline pathological.
Entertainment-social refers to fans who like certain celebrities because they entertain and can be talked about with other people who also find them interesting. Intense-personal is a degree of the worship syndrome where fanatics have “intense and compulsive feelings” about a celebrity, according to Psychology Today. The last, borderline pathological, describes admirers who go so far as to obsess and create fantasies about a celebrity.
It doesn’t help that paparazzi tread on the heels of celebrities everywhere they go, snapping pictures, invading privacy and updating others on their whereabouts. The normalization of this behavior in the media encourages crazed fans to do the same.
While some celebrity admirers keep their admiration to a minimal level, others have made it their life’s mission to give their input on various aspects of celebrities' lives, especially their relationships. This obsession not only reflects the mental instability of some groupies but has the power to hurt celebrities.
It is not unheard of for fans to create romantic scenarios in their minds of their favorite celebrity falling in love with them. However, this daydream can become a nightmare when obsessed fans find out their celebrity crush is in a relationship. This kind of heartbreak has drawn fans to rant online about their idol’s incompatibility with their love interest and even send threats.
When singer Harry Styles was reported to be dating Olivia Wilde, some fans congratulated the couple while others harassed Wilde on her Instagram comment section. Fans claimed Wilde “stole” Styles from them and should be “ashamed” for what she did, prompting the actress to restrict her comments and only allow people she follows to comment on her posts.
The same incident occurred when Styles briefly dated Kendall Jenner. After finding out the relationship’s nature, fans rushed to Twitter to express their anger, claiming Jenner was problematic and a bad person who shouldn’t be around Styles.
These fans treated Styles, a fully grown man, as if he were their property. While it is understandable to have crushes on famous artists, attacking their partners for simply being their partners is cruel and can negatively impact celebrities and their love lives.
While some fans take their obsession too far due to romantic interest, others overstep from simply feeling entitled to judge how celebrities live their lives.
When Florence Pugh posted a photo of boyfriend Zach Braff in celebration of his birthday, Instagram users filled Pugh’s comment section, pointing out the pair’s age difference and claiming they should not be together.
Instead of ignoring cruel comments or setting her comment section to private, Pugh uploaded a video telling fans she won’t tolerate that behavior on her page.
“I do not need you to tell me who I should and should not love, and I would never in my life ever, ever tell anyone who they can and cannot love. It is not your place. And really has nothing to do with you,” Pugh said in her post.
Whether or not the motive, fans don’t have the right to bully celebrities over any aspect of their lives, let alone their romantic relationships.
When fans found out The Weeknd was dating Selena Gomez after his break up with Bella Hadid, they didn’t hesitate. Once pictures went viral of Gomez and The Weeknd on social media, fans went straight to Instagram to comment snake emojis on Gomez’s account.
Celebrities are fully in control of their own lives, and no one else, not even their biggest fans, have a say in what they do or who they love. Instead of getting caught up trying to do what’s best for their favorite celebrity, obsessed fans should instead put this passionate energy into their own lives.
There has to be boundaries between fans and celebrities' lives. While keeping small tabs on stars who bring you joy is harmless, investing heavily into the lives of others can be harmful for both parties. It is understandable that fans only want the best for their favorite celebrities and can be overprotective, but harassment and bullying is never acceptable.
Celebrities are real people with real emotions. Even if their posts are flooded with millions of comments, they’re still able to see every single one, heartfelt or hurtful.
Before barging into comment sections with jealous rants and nasty opinions, fans must consider the impact of their words the next time their favorite celebrity is in a relationship.