Celebrities and media figures are known to have a pronounced effect on their fans, and their audience and their death may be just as important as their work. A new study is showing how the death of celebrities can have a direct effect on fans.

With the growing rise social media, fans have the opportunity to feel a little closer to their favorite celeb. When the world loses such people, it almost becomes second nature for fans to express their grievance on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or any other social media platform. With the loss of Whiteny Houston, Michael Jackson and Adam Yauch of Bestie Boys, fans exploded with grief on social media websites. 

According to Robert Harris, professor of psychology at Kansas State University, each response to celebrity death reveals the significant realities of how people build relationships with their favorite media persona.

Harris has studied a number of traits relating to psychology and communications and his focus has been on how people obtain information from the media. Within his studies, Harris has also observed how watching certain media with different media personalities can influence one’s experience, not to mention how people respond and remember a certain media experience.

Harris also states that  people develop relationships with celebrities similar to the approach they would have taken with people they know in real life. This phenomenon is known as the parasocial interaction. This one-sided relationship is regularly perceived between celebrities and their fans. Parasocial interaction was first recorded near the 1950s during the rise of television and movies making fictional characters more realistic.

Harris also reveals the loss of a celebrity has a clear difference between the loss of a family member.

The use of social media has become therapeutic for those devoted fans, but also fellow celebrities who mourn the loss of their associates.

There are no social structure and support for grieving the loss of a media personality, he stresses it is very different compared to losing a member such as one’s grandmother, and social media outlets can be used as a therapy for grieving the loss of celebrity.