Fantasy vs. Reality: A Matter of Perception

Red-Comp-Notebook LogoFor the most part, and with exception of a few extremely rare cases, the celebrities we like and follow on social media are not our friends. We don’t hang out with them in offline life; we don’t know them personally at all. Even those who have followed people for years, do not know the artist, actor, or author they follow on a deeply personal, close friendship, call them up and discussion life’s greatest mysteries, kind of level.

Yet there are people out there, extremely large fan bases even, that not only believe they are close friends to these celebrities, but that they also know the inner workings of their mind and the ins and outs of their romantic relationships.

Is it all in good fun? A harmless fantasy that fans sometimes take to the extreme?

Or do these fans really believe in what they say? What they post?

Hard to say really, and yet, I’ve witnessed some serious online arguments in favor of both options. Some of them recently.

In the past few years, I’ve seen several large fan bases create an entire romantic relationship for popular actors and musicians—mostly males—who, by all rights, do not appear to be together in real life and never have been.

Have these celebrities flirted with being involved to engage in a little fun with their fans and garner more support for themselves and their projects? Yes, absolutely.

Without doubt, the celebrities involved in these fan conspiracy theories and fantasy scenarios know exactly what is being said and posted about them online and they’ve either decided to have fun with it, join in and share in the craze for a while, or more often than not, ignore it and hope it goes away. When they do join in on the fun though, more than a few people online have called them liars and/or labeled their behavior (or their management team or show creators’ behavior) as queer-baiting. A lot of times labeling them as both.

But are these celebrities engaging in the fun with fans being dishonest to garner more hype and press? Are the show runners, actors, and television writers on certain t.v. shows queer baiting to increase viewer-ship of their shows? Or are these entertainers and show runners simply engaging with the fans that support them on the level they support them on?

Like most situations in life, I believe the answer to this growing phenomenon lies somewhere in the middle, and in each person’s perception of events.

People (passionate fans, especially so) can convince themselves of all kinds of things. They can see irrefutable signs in every little interaction and hear “truthful” admissions in every single word spoken or written in interviews, songs, or even, shockingly enough, secret messages depicted in Instagram and Snapchat media, as well as established press photos.

And because it is all too easy to add your own perception to something when you’ve already convinced and told yourself what you are reading is true, these fans are fully convinced in what they are seeing as it pertains to their own belief system. After that, all objectivity on what is heard and observed becomes clouded by the perception already accepted and determined as truth. To the point where people have become increasingly angry and defensive when confronted with opposite evidence of what they believe to be true.

Online fandom in 2017 is a weird and tricky thing, I’ve come to understand. People create imagined scenarios about actors on TV shows and others celebrities that quickly spiral into the consciousness of other fans and multiply, garnering even more press stories and fan scenarios being written and shared. Some of them being shared as absolute truth. Some of them going so far as to being brought up in mainstream media interviews.

But why?

Why do people ship real life celebrities together that have not come out and said they are together? That have not come out and said they are anything more than fun-loving friends and fellow band members or acting co-workers who love interacting with the fans who support them by having fun with them on the level they crave, desire, and, to some large degree, almost expect from them.

Fun fantasy? Or emotionally dangerous and career harming delusions that have begun to spiral so out of control that online personal attacks of these celebrities have become the norm?

What’s the answer to this rising online phenomenon, dear readers? How do you add objectivity to fan beliefs based on personal perception and strongly held onto fantasies? Can it be done? Or is it, again, simply online fan fun that some passionate souls have taken a tad further than perhaps they should?

Do you believe these fan perceptions and fantasies are all in good fun or do you believe they do or could do real damage to real people? Do you think they harm not only the rationale of the fans but also the careers and relationships celebrities involved?

With online personal attacks of celebrities, their friends and management teams, and their romantic partners—whether real or only perceived—on the rise, no one seems to have the answer to fix this increasingly growing, worrisome issue. Can it be fixed? Or is it already so out of control that no real answers exist to diminish it?

What say you?

Comment below and let your voice be heard.

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