The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

Nicole Laeno and the parasocial predicament

The emotional connections between online creators and their fans are getting out of hand

YouTuber Nicole Laeno broke the internet on April 2, 2024 after releasing her long awaited college decisions video. Within a day, the video climbed the charts and was trending at number three. Her fans anxiously anticipated her reactions to her decision letters, as well as her final college decision. The video’s impact left fans in dazes of sadness and anger as if they themselves were receiving these rejections.

Since her middle school years, Laeno has made it clear on social media that UCLA was her dream school, vlogging her attendance at multiple open clinics for UCLA’s dance team and constantly buying merchandise to support the school. 

At the start of the video, Laeno announced her acceptances into other schools including Cal State Long Beach, UC Santa Cruz, UC Riverside, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and San Diego State. Yet after opening her UCLA rejection, she cries while surrounded by family.

Laeno’s continuous support and love for UCLA woven through vlogs about her everyday life throughout high school made the school’s decision to reject her a tough pill for her viewers to swallow. The minimal editing and casual lifestyle vlogs make Laeno’s content raw compared to the other saturated content on other platforms, drawing viewers to feel connected to her positive personality.

While Laeno’s connection with her fans may seem harmless, their reactions to her college acceptance video draws attention to concerns about Laeno’s — and other internet influencers’ — relationships with their subscribers. 

After learning about Laeno’s rejection from UCLA, fans immediately took to UCLA’s social media accounts comment sections and other social media platforms to express their anger and disappointment. Using hashtags such as #justicefornicole, fans felt betrayed and wronged by Laeno’s rejection from the school. They failed to realize that their comments would not change her status and highlighted how absurd it is to use a hashtag about justice in this way when the world is filled with true injustice.

Laeno’s fans defending her in UCLA’s instagram comment section

After seeing her fans’ negative reactions and negative comments towards the school, Laeno posted a video on TikTok reminding her fans to spread love and to accept her rejection, just as she had. However, her fans continued to shame and attack UCLA on social media.

Though Laeno shares a lot about her personal life in her vlogs, she rarely discusses her school life, leaving her fans with no real perception of her academics. Her fans’ automatic response to send hate towards UCLA discounts the possibility of Laeno being rejected due to a lack of merit, as UCLA’s admissions process is incredibly competitive.

Historically, the school has a low acceptance rate, with only 9% of 145,910 applicants admitted for fall of 2023. Fans fail to understand that being Laeno’s dream school doesn’t put her above others with the same dream. 

Her fans’ responses also show the negative consequences of the parasocial relationships that build between influencers like Laeno and their fans. It’s important for fans not to invest their happiness in someone else’s success because the inevitable disappointment they’ll feel is inevitable. Likewise, fans should avoid idolizing online creators and letting creators control a significant part of their emotional health.

Regardless of what fans may feel, the one who bears the burden of their behavior is Laeno, who now has to deal with not only getting rejected from her dream school but also both the guilt of feeling like she has disappointed her fan base and the pressure to clean up the mess she made. 

It is important to see online creators as who they are: human beings who choose to share a limited portion of their lives. We must be critical and recognize that we rarely ever have the full story. We need to be mindful of the attachments we form and create boundaries between the follow button and the person in front of the camera.

About the Contributors
Sania Nadkarni
Sania Nadkarni, Staff Writer
Sania Nadkarni is currently a sophomore and Staff Writer for El Estoque. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, eating in-n-out and spending time with her friends and family.
Leah Desai
Leah Desai, Staff Writer
Leah is currently a sophomore and a staff writer for El Estoque. She is a member of the volleyball team at Monta Vista and in her free time, she enjoys spending time with her friends and listening to music.
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