Imaginary friends are not uncommon during childhood, and more than likely that vivid wild imagination will follow you into adulthood. So when ex-shock jock turned talk show host, Wendy Williams, refers to celebrities she admires but have never met as, “Friends in My Head,” it doesn’t seem so farfetched. Actually, feeling connected to prominent figures is more common than we care to admit. With around-the-clock exposure to infectious lyrics, real-life scripts, and spellbinding dunks, one can’t help but be influenced or impacted in some way by musicians, actors, and athletes. Humans are prone to gravitate toward people who they feel understands their situation, and have experienced similar trials. Sadly, these stars offer a source of comfort that many can’t find within their own family or group of friends. Not to mention, modern technology has provided access to a number of them through social networks such as Twitter. In an instant, followers can receive @replies and engage in conversation with their favorite celebs. Such a surreal occurrence quickly takes a fan from fantasy to reality in 140 characters or less. This phenomenon serves as the perfect outlet for one attempting to escape personal issues and unfortunate circumstances in their life. Of course it’s not that deep for everyone. There are varying degrees as to how each individual relates to famous people.
To further define the expression, I’ve summarized a breakdown of the different “syndromes” of this widespread obsession, from the extreme Stan to the mild fan.
These individuals have a severe case of crazy, possibly a mental disorder, causing them to be so enamored with their celebrity crush, that it’s scary. They have convinced themselves the other person feels the same way, creating a false relationship in their heads. This fallacy leads to intrusive measures, such as cyber stalking and harassing phone calls, or sending a gazillion emails and strange gifts in an attempt to make a connection. Some go as far as putting permanent tattoos on their body to honor their fictitious love affair. A room in their home is akin to a shrine adorned with posters, album covers and other paraphernalia. Calling them an overzealous fan would be an understatement.
Not quite overboard, they are between the sixes and sevens, on the verge of being fanatical. You can find Oprah, Beyoncè, and Lil’ Wayne in their top 10 friends on MySpace and Facebook. They spend countless hours on the internet surfing for the latest entertainment news, fashions, and trends. These sideline groupies will do almost anything to get a glimpse of a star, as long as it doesn’t involve over-the-top or embarrassing antics. However, they are considered extremists who can recite the lines and lyrics to every single movie or song that was ever made by their respective icons. Well into adulthood, and still keeps memorabilia of their number one movie star, singer, and rapper in a keepsake box.
Maybe a bit in denial, this unpretentious bunch prefers to call themselves “supporters” instead of fans. Since fan sounds a bit groupie-ish, they wouldn’t dare be associated with such a word. Loyal to only a select few, these devoted disciples can appreciate great talent, but never star struck or high strung over the next big thing. Hesitant to admit it, but they too follow popular celebs on Twitter. Even keeps up with the latest juicy gossip, except rarely believes the nonsense or get caught up in the hype. They understand balance is the key to keeping such a “fantasy” world in perspective. After all, this famed life belongs to them.
I’m sure some of you are relieved to know you aren’t the only crazy one with such an admiration for a celebrity, that you label them as friends. Though we can make slight fun of the matter; on a serious note, we look up to superstars with a higher esteem than we do ourselves. Because they speak a language we identify with, luminaries have an undeniable power which motivates and drives us to dream bigger. Whether fueled by their fashion or passion, we must set boundaries on the amount of time, energy, and focus we give our “idols.”An entertainer’s sole purpose is to entertain us. Yet as a whole, we’ve become so absorbed in their lives, living vicariously through them that we neglect true fulfillment in our own. Each individual on earth has a purpose and talents to offer to the world. It’s our responsibility to use those gifts for good and not let them go to waste. Remember, you don’t have to be an internationally known megastar to touch, inspire, or help someone.