New research from the greetings card marketplace thortful has shed light on the collective heartbreak the internet is experiencing following the release of a viral video on 25th March. The video, which captures Harry Styles and Emily Ratajkowski sharing a kiss in Tokyo, has left fans of the celebrities devastated. This heartbreak has been amplified by the fact that 25th March is also the anniversary of Zayn Malik’s departure from One Direction in 2015. As a result, the hashtag #doomsday2023 has seen a 23% increase since that date.
An analysis of TikTok data, Twitter trends, and online conversations reveals the extent of fans’ despair. The hashtag #emilyratajkowski has accumulated over 7 million views in the past week, with its popularity surging since 26 March. It is currently the 7th trending hashtag on TikTok. Meanwhile, Harry Styles has emerged as the number one trending topic in the Entertainment category on Twitter. The crying emoji (😭) is the most commonly used symbol in mentions of Styles across social media platforms. Even singer Lewis Capaldi has humorously responded to the news with a TikTok video that has garnered over 1.2 million views.
The online frenzy over celebrity relationships is not limited to Styles and Ratajkowski. The revelation that Zayn Malik and Selena Gomez are dating has also caused a stir, with the hashtag #selenagomezzaynmalik amassing over 133k views in the past week.
Thortful spoke with psychologist Mairead Molly from Berkeley International to explore why fans experience heartbreak when their favourite celebrities enter new relationships or experience breakups. According to Molly, people often view celebrities as role models and idealise their lives. When these role models experience setbacks, it can shatter fans’ sense of reality.
The age of social media, reality TV, and autobiographies has made celebrities more accessible than ever before. Celebrities and influencers have mastered the art of sharing just enough of their lives to create a sense of familiarity, making fans feel as though they have a genuine connection with them. This perceived connection fosters a sense of attachment, leading fans to relate to and identify with the celebrities they admire.
Fans often project their own hopes, dreams, and fantasies onto celebrities, viewing them as icons who embody their aspirations. When these seemingly untouchable figures go through negative experiences, such as breakups, fans may begin to question the stability of their own lives and relationships.
In conclusion, the internet’s collective heartbreak over the recent romantic developments involving Harry Styles, Emily Ratajkowski, Zayn Malik, and Selena Gomez demonstrates the deep connection fans feel towards celebrities. The accessibility and perceived familiarity offered by social media, reality TV, and autobiographies have only strengthened these connections, leading fans to project their own aspirations onto the lives of the stars they idolise. Consequently, when these celebrities experience setbacks or enter new relationships, fans can’t help but feel a sense of heartbreak, as if their own realities have been shaken.
Image credit: Lily Redman