Minecraft: parasocial relationships driving the internet

A lot of things happened on the internet this week. For interesting and intellectual articles on this, please go to your local news site or commission a better writer. What truly matters to me is that popular minecraft youtuber and twitch streamer Dream face-revealed. The internet was full, and I mean full of this guy’s face. I couldn’t go one full scroll about something on Dream, when I am neither interested in Dream nor Minecraft. For every post about Iran or Ukraine, there were several about Dream.

So, let’s talk about it. We don’t know Dream personally, he’s an internet celebrity, why would I care about his face? Why is the entire internet talking about this white dude who was one among millions? He’s not even handsome. 

The answer is parasocial relationships. In this article, I will explain this common internet phenomenon and why it dominated my timeline. I will take minecraft creator Dream as my example, because if Twitter wants me to care about him so badly, then I will.

u dont know be but i lov u sm<3

Parasocial relationships are quite common nowadays. My dad screaming at the television screen for Insert Football Player that he’s amazing, is in a parasocial relationship. The dudes who post Max Verstappen victories on their instagram, expressing their pride, are in a parasocial relationship. Teenagers with k-pop boy photocards in their clear phone-case, are in a parasocial relationship. In this type of relationship, one person (say, the fan) spends time, effort and emotions on another person (the celebrity). The latter has no clue of the former’s existence. While Fan loyally watches every video, knows dates and trivia, has posters and merch, Celebrity is ignorant to their existence. These relationships are one-sided and with the growth of the internet, have become increasingly more common. Did parasocial life really exist before the internet and celebrities? Did the Romans have a parasocial relationship with their favourite gladiator? 

Celebrities are aware of these relationships and their power. The way cultivating these relationships, sharing yourself as a real person people can get attached to, increases your brand value. Dream is a prime example of this, a mastermind. He is a minecraft youtuber who rose to fame in 2020 when the world was isolated because of Covid. He gained popularity through his unique Minecraft videos with his friends while remaining completely faceless. As of last week, after several years of secrecy, he showed his face to the internet. A moment of vulnerability, of showing how human he is, and therefore successfully strengthening the parasocial relationship with his fans.

He seems genuine, like a real person who has grown a lot from his mistakes.

my friend E, a big dream fan

His personal twitter dreamwastaken is full of appreciation for his fans, stating his love and appreciation for his fans’ support. When he face-revealed, he expressed that he cannot wait to be a real person and go out in the world. To meet his fans, to hang out. Even before face revealing, he cultivated this relationship with his fans by sharing his daily life, pictures of his cat, and sharing his phone number. Dream the brand feels like Dream the real person, Dream your gamer friend from halfway across the globe.

An important part of Dream’s brand is his friendship with several other youtubers, more particularly with GeorgeNotFound. I stated last week that Genshin has taken over fanfiction, but that doesn’t even come close to what DreamNotFound has done. They became so popular, the fanfiction broke popular fanfiction site ArchiveOfOurOwn. 

They stream and make videos together where they play Minecraft while hanging out, joking around, flirting a little. It’s full of banter, socialness and community, all things we lacked during Covid. They’re funny, they’re open-minded, they’re moderately attractive if you squeeze one eye shut.

he interacts with fans a lot which not a lot of celebrities and content creators do

my friend E, again

And Fan is a lonely teenager stuck in covid isolation. They hate normies at school, They don’t have friends to laugh with, to flirt with, to watch them do a sick minecraft parkour. They found this space where They feel at home. This guy makes them laugh like a friend would, gives them a community like friends do. He says he loves them. They don’t hear that often.

idk u lol blocked

But let’s be real here. While Fan loyally defends Dream on Twitter, watches every video he uploads, spends money on his merch and now knows the very distance between his eyes (and his eyes are green, apparently), Dream doesn’t know them. He doesn’t love them the way they love him, the way he loves his friends. He wouldn’t like this article, he would say that he does ‘love and appreciate every single one of you,’ but I call bluff. This guy is 23 and lives in a lavish Florida mansion with several Teslas. He doesn’t love me, Leanne 21 from the Netherlands favourite colour is blue, he loves his money and he loves Minecraft. 

Do I think Dream is a bad person? No, he can stream his video games however much he likes. Is it bad to have parasocial relationships? I don’t think so. Celebrities are meant to entertain, to set examples, and it’s inevitable to form some sort of bond to someone you see frequently even if it’s through the screen. It’s an interesting interaction between social relationships and the digital age. We’re socially invested, but it’s all digital. Like mutual, flesh-and-blood relationships, keep it healthy. Everyone can be a fan, but don’t be a creep or a stalker. Don’t fight with people on the internet because they’re not into the white guy you’re into. Most importantly, be careful who you give a platform. Now that we know the face behind Dream’s mask, who knows what else he was hiding behind it.