When singer Whitney Houston died, expressions of grief and solidarity surfaced quickly on Facebook and Twitter. Similar results occurred with the deaths of Michael Jackson and television host Dick Clark, among others. Why are people so upset about a person they’ve never met?
Psychologist Richard Harris says that many people develop relationships with media characters in a similar manner to how they do so in real life. This one-sided relationship is most commonly observed between celebrities and their fans.
Harris says, "Somebody’s real upset that their favorite soap opera character was killed off yesterday and they tell someone about that and they laugh. It’s a very different reaction than if their grandmother had died."