What’s the Deal with Jacob Sartorius’s Social Media Proclamations?
Personal love letters aren’t all that personal when you’re sending them to 1.6 million Twitter followers
Jacob Sartorius, the 17-year-old former Viner, current TikToker and YouTube-launched pop star, wants you to know that he loves you deeply. “why are you so beautiful? like you’re even more beautiful when u try not to be….” he tweeted on September 27. “i love you unconditionally,” he tweeted on September 23. The same minute, he posted another missive:
Every one of the messages was replied to in earnest by hundreds, if not thousands, of Sartorius’s fans. They loved him back; they cared about him; he too was beautiful and appreciated.
Each of those would be a touching moment, were it not for the fact that Sartorius was blasting out the message to his 1.6 million Twitter followers, while receiving back intensely personal messages. It’s a curiosity of the modern social media star that their most relatable moments can become mass messages sent to millions, but Sartorius takes it to the extreme. He’s taking the concept of the parasocial relationship and putting it on steroids.
“The popularity of influencers is differentiated from traditional mass media celebrity in its emphasis on the performance of authenticity, intimacy, availability and connectedness,” explains Zoe Glatt, who is studying YouTube for her PhD at London School of Economics. “Jacob Sartorius practices a particularly extreme version of this, actively cultivating a parasocial relationship where each follower feels like the personal recipient of his attention and affection.”
Sartorius is the most flagrant example of this kind of impersonal personal message, and has primed his audience for supposed intimacy over several years. Back in 2016, he was unironically tweeting out “YOU’RE IMPORTANT” to more than a million people.