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Forming digital self and parasocial relationships on YouTube

Journal of Consumer Culture

Published online on


The videos on YouTube come either from mass media or are created and uploaded by amateur individuals. This study focused on how amateur individuals explore their digital self and establish parasocial interaction with others via YouTube videos. Drawing upon in-depth interviews with 45 participants (11 females and 34 males), our data demonstrate that YouTube is a consumer narrative where multiple digital selves and parasocial relationships are made comprehensible. It also unfolds the complex process of forming one’s digital self and parasocial relationships on YouTube by undergoing three main phases: digital self-construction, digital-self presentation strategies, and parasocial relationship developments that are managed by digital-self images. The results suggest that YouTube is a set of cultural values in terms of symbolic meanings in everyday life that are essential for consumers to digitally self-construct, self-present, and parasocially interact with online viewers.