Mental Health


Mandy Kloppers

Why we’re addicted to reality TV

Have you ever stopped to wonder why we’re addicted to reality TV? People can’t seem to get enough of it. This is clear by the increasing amount of reality TV shows appearing in the media. There is a psychological reason for our avid interest in the real lives of others.

Many hide their problems

We’ve all been socially conditioned to put our best foot forward. To act as if life is wonderful and we have no problems. This inaccurate view of the world can make us doubt ourselves, feel we aren’t good enough or feel very alone in the problems we really do have behind the scenes. Social media is making the problem worse in many ways. The majority of posts on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook give us the wrong idea of what life is truly like. Very rarely do people tell you on Facebook that they don’t feel worthy, have just lost their job or had a huge row with their partner.

Reality TV helps normalise problems in life

We are given the ‘veiled’ version of perfection meanwhile, below the surface no one has the perfect life all the time. It’s in our DNA to compare ourselves to others and when we buy into this false image of others, it can leave us feeling alone and isolated.

Reality TV is the only way for the majority of people to connect with the problems others are also experiencing in life. This is where we get to see all the details of what’s really going on. I find it worrying that we all feel this need to put on a brave face, smile and say “I’m fine” when in fact you’re miserable or having a really bad, sad day. Why do we do it?

Evolutionary psychologists say that our brains are wired for inclusion. We want to be accepted, we want to seem fit and able. This is known as “survival of the fittest” and it’s what helped us to procreate and keep existing without dying out. Of course we are going to try seem stronger and better than we really are.

Thing is, times have changed. Our brain development just hasn’t kept us with the fast paced advances humans have made in terms of technology and progressing. Our biology is on a different, much slower time scale. Being open and honest now would not have the same serious consequences as it did for our neanderthal ancestry.

Reality TV helps us feel connected

It’s only the brave who are strong enough to show their problems to others without fear of judgement. No, let me take that back. They still fear judgement but they do it anyway. They are true to themselves and stick to their values. One of these may be helping others or liking themselves no matter what is going on for them. Most people who are brave enough to step above the ‘perfection parapet’ understand that they are making themselves vulnerable to others but go for it regardless. Look at Selma Blair as a good example of this…she has candid;y talked about suffering from Multiple Sclerosis.

She hasn’t hidden this, thereby perpetuating the myth that she has this perfect, ‘together’ life. She has embraced her chronic illness and the way it has affected her mental health – very commendable.

Hopefully as we move away from being controlled by our slowly developing brains, we will become more real and tell it like it is. We will no longer feel afraid to expose our problems and will see sharing them as a strength, not a weakness.

Mandy X

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

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