"Seeing celebrities on television or in movies tricks your brain into believing, on some level, that they are members of your social group," according to an article in Psychology Today.

Forwarded by my friend Andrea (Andy), the piece explains why celebrities matter to us, and why we pay attention, from product endorsements to tabloid gossip.

The brain simply doesn’t realize that it’s being fooled by TV and movies, says sociologist Satoshi Kanazawa, lecturer at the London School of Economics. "Hundreds of thousands of years ago, it was impossible for someone not to know you if you knew them. And if they didn’t kill you, they were probably your friend."

Kanazawa’s research has shown that this feeling of friendship has other repercussions: People who watch more TV are more satisfied with their friendships, just as if they had more friends and socialized more frequently. Another study found that teens who keep up to date on celebrity gossip are popular, with strong social networks—the interest in pop culture indicates a healthy drive for independence from parents.

Funny, yes. Sad, definitely.

I'm no different. "Friends" starts in 90 minutes.


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