Deconstructing Crush Culture
The celebrity crush culture has been democratised thanks to social media. With just a couple of taps on a lazy afternoon, we can now track someone's every activity without having to interact with them or even let them know that we are obsessing over them, given they have a social media presence. In other words, we engage in a form of parasocial interaction while crushing on someone.
But why do we collectively choose to constantly crush on someone while refusing to confront the messy realities of being in a relationship?
Fear of risk taking
Confessing our liking for someone puts us in a vulnerable position where there is a chance we will be rejected, and therefore deemed unlovable or "not good enough" by the person we like. Crushing on someone is thus safer, because there is no possibility of confrontation and/or subsequent rejection.
If a confession results in a full-fledged relationship, then we are again at the risk of getting hurt, exposing the most vulnerable sides of ourselves, and discovering the flaws in a person we previously deemed perfect. Having a crush is exciting partly because we do not have to take these risks.
Living in 2021 comes with a myriad of downsides, one of which is extreme individualism. Finding oneself on the extreme side of individuality — like we tend to do these days, results in an inability to compromise or give someone space in our personal life.
For people who are extremely individualistic and have difficulty allowing someone in their space, or difficulty making compromises for others, crushing on someone saves them from the realities of being in a relationship.
Fantasy over reality
Having a crush on someone often involves daydreaming about them. It is also very common for people to create a perfect image of their crush based on their own projected desires. A lot of young girls and boys crush on someone when they want to be in a relationship, but are not emotionally mature enough to handle being in one. Having a crush then is more about the fantasy it creates than the reality we live in. What can be questioned then is an entire generation's obsession with fantasy over reality.
With the use of realism in movies, television series and even social media platforms where the representation of reality is carefully constructed, we cultivate in ourselves a desire to see this same constructed reality in our lives. This obsession with a perfect reality or hyperreality, is also causing us to endorse crush culture — to replace reality with a perfect image of it.
There is nothing wrong with having a crush on someone. If anything, it can be a healthy, self-reflective experience. However, if your obsessive crushing communicates a desire to be in a real relationship, then maybe ask yourself why you keep choosing to avoid acting on it.
1. Forge (December 3, 2018). Why Having a Crush Is Good for You.
2. K-State Today (January 24, 2013). Somebody to love: Expert says young crushes on older celebrities part of passage into adulthood.
3. Psychology Today (September 10, 2012). Adolescence and the Teenage Crush.
4. The School of Life (May 22, 2014). On the Madness and Charm of Crushes.
Tazreen considers reading "The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath" to be a calming activity. Question her sanity at firstname.lastname@example.org