Celebrity Worshipping

Josefina Albert, Online Editor

What drives idolatry? Is it envy? Admiration? Or maybe even hope?

Some psychologists and neuroscientists attribute idolization to seeing traits in others that we believe we lack and wish to emulate. This concept has existed throughout history but now, with the advent of social media, the scope and accessibility to viewing celebrities and famous figures has dramatically increased. For many, looking up to celebrities stays within reasonable limits when used as a form of entertainment. However, psychologists are discovering a boundary that some are beginning to cross when it comes to phenomena of “celebrity worshipping”. Past this point, overexposure to popular media can lead to a unique kind of addiction and obsession, along with a host of other side effects. 

Celebrity worshipping is most often seen in adolescent years, where teenagers are attempting to understand who they are and who they wish to become. Looking up to role models is often a healthy way to do this. However, it becomes problematic when these role models are separated by a screen and portraying distorted, inappropriate or unattainable characteristics. As a result, those with “celebrity worship syndrome” have been shown to have lowered self esteem and body image along with higher levels of anxiety and depression. A 2014 study found that those who obsessively worshipped celebrities had higher levels of narcissistic behavior and were more prone to bullying and online stalking, proving that the effects of this disorder can have impacts beyond the person afflicted.

As our world becomes increasingly integrated online, it is important to separate the real from the virtual. Most psychologists recommend that during formative teen years it is important to find people within your real life for guidance and mentorship, while attempting to limit excessive screen time.