I don't think every single person writing something is necessarily looking for social approval, however the fact they post it publicly means that they actually have the need to speak it out instead of staying quiet. Why is this any different than silent mourning, beats me. When I was around 14 I remember wishing Kurt Cobain a happy birthday for a few years every February 20. Back then I felt this was just a way to connect with him. Nothing deep, it was just like, when you are watching/reading a story and something happens to a character you like and feel empathetic about the situation. It may not have meant much, but nonetheless I felt better by wishing him a happy birthday as if he was still alive. I can't exactly say what was going on my head back then, but I wished my words crossed whatever barriers that exist between the dead and those alive, and that made me feel better about the thing.
Nowadays I realize how meaningless that is and wouldn't do it, but I really didn't mean much in regards of social approval when I was doing that. Maybe it's a form to deal with the idea that things eventually disappear? Some sort of escapism to make things feel better? I really can't tell, and honestly I am not that interested in my psyche back then, so I'll probably never know.
>What benefit does a person get by making others recognize that they're a fan too? It's like people are gluttonous monsters that endlessly gorge on the validation of others.
I think it's because people think that having a personality involves playing a certain role and you can't leave that box. And having a role usually involves people recognizing that role as such, otherwise it doesn't exist. Otherwise you don't have a personality.
That always has interested me, why are humans so scared to lose their personality? Is it uncanny? That's why we dislike dolls and robots? I, sadly, have a very strong personality (or at least I believe I do). Not very outward, but I have very solid opinions about most of the stuff going around in my life, and thus I cannot change as easily as somebody who hasn't got them, but still I wouldn't mind trying if it was possible.
>I get why impressionable children would just copy what main stream media does, but shouldn't adults eventually get enough self-awareness to have that, "spark"? The seemingly obvious realization that their feelings don't matter and other people don't need to know them?
No. Ever since I became an adult I realized that they're the most childish people you will ever find. More than children, because children don't realize they are acting as such. But adults? No, they just learn how to "act" adult, they never stop being children. Sum to the equation how easy is to spit bullshit around thanks to technology, and you have bottles full of gas suddenly exploding all their bottled opinions.