Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

School Name

School of Communication



Major Advisor

Moira O'Keeffe

Second Advisor

Kyle Barnett

Third Advisor

Maggie Rossman


This paper aims to explore a parasol phenomenon known as parasocial breakup. What happens when popular influencers become riddled with scandals, or a microcelebrity crush starts dating someone? Perhaps they are unfollowed, blocked, or ignored by their fans. The parasocial bond between influencer and viewer has cracked. What happens when a content creator changes their content, stops posting, or experiences a crisis? They may remove themselves from various social media platforms, post content that former viewers no longer enjoy, or shift their fan demographic drastically. This paper analyzes micro celebrities across four categories: those who have died, those who have been plagued with scandals, those who have retired from social media, and those who have changed their content. By examining each influencer's social media accounts, the catalyst for their mass parasocial breakups, and the reactions from their followers, this paper explores the various parasocial breakups that have occurred. Utilizing a multi-case study design, this paper dives deeper into a question most research on parasocial interaction has narrowly avoided: what could act as a catalyst for a mass parasocial breakup? Why do some viewers initiate parasocial breakups? Finally, how could microcelebrities avoid these mass parasocial breakups?

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