In recent weeks, you can’t look anywhere without seeing, reading, or hearing about the latest Kardashian cheating brouhaha featuring Khloe, her baby daddy basketball star Tristan Thompson, and her sister’s BFF Jordyn Woods. The expose which was confirmed via an Instagram comment (how else?) and culminated to a one-on-one Red Table Talk interview with Jordyn was all everyone was talking about. You know the news was a matter of national interest when even CNN was reporting about it.
But what was quite interesting was how millions of people were actually so invested in the news that they took the time to take sides, supporting or trolling Jordyn, Khloe, and Tristan in the process. The messages and attacks became too personal that you’d think they’re actually related to these people.
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But if you really think about it, who can blame them? That is what reality TV does. Fans who have kept up with the Kardashians know that Jordyn being the alleged third-party was a major deal. They. Just. Know. If you’re constantly glued to the TV watching your favorite reality stars, chances are, you’ll also develop that false belief that you are a part of their lives. You become so fascinated with what’s happening on-screen that when something like this big scandal happens in real time, you are so into it that you won’t think twice about tweeting about it to be a part of the drama.
Why are people so obsessed with reality television?
Reality television has made seemingly ordinary people into household names, with a handful of them even becoming some of the most influential people in the world. But why are people so obsessed with reality TV?
By now, almost everyone who watch reality TV know that not 100% percent of what they are watching is actually real. It is more of a manufactured reality designed to maximize the drama and attract eyeballs. However, the idea that these are real people playing themselves is still a step above just watching an actor in a fictional film. Even if the situations are made up, they still have some effect on the stars’ real lives. With social media, reality TV has transcended the small screen. Through IG stories and Snapchat, viewers are given first-hand, real-life teasers which just makes them excited to watch the episodes to see what really happened “behind-the-scenes”.
Watching reality TV is somehow comparable to nosing around your neighborhood or checking out what your ex is up to. But this way, you actually have a front-seat view on the private lives of people.
According to Psychology Today, reality TV tends to satisfy people’s voyeuristic tendencies. This type of voyeurism is different from sexual voyeurism as it is more related to people’s uncontrollable desire to snoop into what they are not normally allowed to see.
It makes people feel better about themselves
According to psychologist Leon Festinger, people have an innate drive to evaluate themselves in comparison to other people. This social comparison theory explains that to know where someone stands in society, that person uses other people as a benchmark. This is the reason many people can’t help but have FOMO whenever they see their friends on Facebook having picture-perfect lives. With reality TV, it takes this social comparison to another level. For some people, the exaggerated spectacle on TV makes them feel that their own lives are perfectly normal. When viewers watch the real housewives publicly engage in a catfight or bachelorettes make stupid decisions, this can somehow give them a feeling of validation that they are better than the people on screen.
They empathize with the reality stars
Not everyone who watches reality TV is there for the drama. For some people, they love watching it because they can empathize with the characters. Because most characters start out as ordinary people, they become more relatable than a Hollywood acting genius with a make-believe partner.
Seeing people on TV doing the same mundane stuff and having the same issues to deal with make viewers believe that they are just like them. Research supports this concept saying that people enjoy reality TV because of empathy rather than wanting to see other people humiliated publicly.
When is reality TV addiction bad for you?
While watching reality TV day in, day out may seem pretty harmless as compared to other behavioral addictions like gambling or porn, it can also be harmful if it affects your daily life. As the cliché goes, too much of something is never good. While it provides a fun escape, what you do after the show is over and how it affects your life is what you should be watchful about. According to Dr. Racine Henry, a licensed marriage and family therapist, as long as you are able to separate what you’re watching from real life, then you are simply using reality TV for entertainment.
But if you are concerned that you are already neglecting work, ignoring your friends and family, becoming personally offended by criticisms of these people, or your obsession is already impacting your relationships, then these might be signs that you need to decrease your viewing hours.
How to curb your addiction to reality TV
Watching reality TV and gossiping about it with your friends are typically harmless. However, if it is already affecting your personal productivity and you want to put a stop to your habits, there are ways to divert your attention.
Engage in Sports
An effective way is to engage in sports or exercise. Instead of watching reality stars do yoga or go to spinning classes, why don’t you actually go and try out those classes yourself? Not only will this get you off the couch, but it will also be healthy for your mind and body.
Learn a New Skill
Learning a hobby is another way to occupy your time like photography, cooking, or even makeup. This will challenge you to go beyond your comfort zones and experience new things.
Talk to a Professional
If you feel that you cannot manage your addiction to reality TV and it is already impacting your life negatively, you don’t have to deal with it alone.
Your specific behavior addiction is just as serious as substance addiction because it can damage your life and your relationships. That’s why it’s important to find professional help in a treatment facility that will recognize your condition and will tailor a treatment program to suit your individual needs.
If you are struggling with an addiction, help is available today. Contact Anaheim Lighthouse to learn more about our specialized treatment programs.