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The Doja Cat Drama & Parasocial Relationships

The Doja Cat drama hasn't gone down well with her fans and brings into question the negative aspects of parasocial relationships....

Doja Cat is trolling once again, but this time it’s against her own fans. The singer/rapper is no stranger to controversy online and has told her fans not to call themselves “Kittens” and that she doesn’t love them. Needless to say, it hasn’t gone down well with her fans but is this representative of the negative aspects of parasocial relationships that many celebrities foster? 

So what did she say to get everyone so hot and bothered?

On July 23, Doja Cat got into a spat on Threads with a few fans. Essentially, she refused to say that she loves her fans, which didn’t please said fans. 

In the now deleted conversation, Doja wrote, “My life, my rules, my style, my attitude.” 

To which one user responded, “I wanna hear you say (I do love you guys) as usual you say to your fans.”

Doja’s reply, “I don’t though cuz I don’t even know yall.” 

Another fan replied, “And we don’t know you. But we have supported you through thick and thin. Mind you you’d be nothing without us. You’d be working at a grocery store making songs on fucking garage band miss high school drop out.” 

To which Doja said plainly, “Nobody forced you idk why you’re talking to me like my mother bitch you sound like a crazy person.”

It wasn’t an isolated incident either. Doja criticised her fan’s nickname for themselves, “Kittens”. 

“My fans don’t name themselves shit,” Doja explained. “If you call yourself a ‘kitten’ or fucking ‘kittenz’ that means you need to get off your phone and get a job and help your parents with the house.” 

Once again, her fans were not pleased, with one writing, “What should I change my name to since you don’t like the term kitten?”

“Just delete the entire account and rethink everything it’s never too late,” Doja responded. 

Since then, several fan accounts dedicated to Doja Cat have since been deactivated as well Doja’s own Threads account. 

Now either Doja Cat is simply trolling her fans or she is refusing to participate further in parasocial relationships with her fans. 

Parasocial Relationships

Let’s quickly get into what a parasocial relationship is. 

A parasocial relationship is a one-sided relationship where one party (in this case Doja Cat “stans”) “extends emotional energy, interest and time” while the other party (Doja Cat) has no idea of the former’s existence, according to the National Register of Health Services Psychologists

It goes beyond being a fan and engaging with a figure’s content, but beginning to think of the figure as a friend or confidante. 

Social media has exacerbated parasocial relationships as prominent figures can, and do, interact with their fans, but not in the same deep or meaningful ways in which we interact with those we meet in real-life. 

Now, parasocial relationships aren’t actually an altogether negative thing, it’s just a side effect of humans being social animals. These relationships were originally considered a symptom of loneliness, isolation, and social anxieties, but some studies have found that there is no correlation between loneliness and the intensity of the parasocial relationship. 

So it’s all well and good that things are fine for most fans, but what about the figures who they dote upon? 

There are countless stories of celebrities having to deal with uncomfortable situations as a result of a fan who has taken things too far or seriously. Things have only gotten worse thanks to social media where cultivating a faux-intimacy with followers is encouraged by algorithms. 

Popular fashion influencer, Camille Charrière (1.2 million followers on Instagram), was frank when she told The Guardian about the professional incentives to overshare online. 

“Sharing your children, your boyfriend, the inside of your home, perhaps about your mental health or other illness struggles, family stuff – all of that performs better on social media. Anything that is very intimate and relatable, and that other people can identify with,”Charrière said. 

“The things that used to work – keeping it impersonal and just showing your outfits, like we used to do – don’t really work anymore. That’s something that anyone with a large social media following will be able to see: which posts generate higher engagement.” 

There is a fear among creators that if they were to publicly comment on their discomfort with fan expectations like these, they would appear ungrateful to the audiences that essentially provide their livelihoods. 

Does that not sound familiar to the Doja Cat drama? 

Ultimately, the blame cannot be put solely on the fans as these dynamics are part of the job. Creators have to draw the boundaries themselves, choosing how much to share and how much to keep private. 

Jamie Foxx and his family haven’t disclosed anything relating to his April 2023 hospitalisation. Bruce Willis didn’t share anything about his dementia diagnosis until it had progressed to such a point that he could no longer work. 

Celebrities don’t owe fans every last detail of their private lives, while simultaneously it can’t be expected that fans should just shrug their shoulders when their idol has called them an idiot for participating in a parasocial relationship. 

There is a reason that most “stans” are teenagers. Those in their angsty phase going through an identity crisis find parasocial relationships as a vision of total acceptance and as a way to acquire norms and standards for conduct in their lives. It’s a normal part of growing up. 

How Does This Apply to Doja Cat?

So is Doja Cat simply drawing new boundaries between herself and her fans? Yes, but has she gone about it in a less than desirable way? Yes.

Had she just wanted to reduce the level of faux-intimacy she had with her fans, it would’ve been easier to just go quiet on social media and divulge fewer details about her personal life online. While she may be frustrated with her fans, her response to them is uncalled for. She doesn’t owe fans everything, but she does owe them the same respect offered to any other human being. 

With the benefit of hindsight, it was probably better to altogether ignore messages and “go outside and touch some grass,” to use her own words. 

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