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Articles > Culture July, 21, 2015

Is Watching TOWIE & MIC Turning Us Into Bad People?

Lisa-marie Ashcroft
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8.00 / 10

The word ‘reality’ when used prior to ‘television’ suggests that what you are watching is pure, unaltered and unplanned real life. You are looking into the life of another person, almost as if they themselves are unaware that they are being watched – you are simply a spectator. But we watch these television programmes being shown a false representation of what ‘real life’ actually entails. 

Is reality television making us bad people?

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Being able to see what others lives look like behind closed doors is a privilege we have never had before – the ability to be a fly on the wall, to watch the scandal unfold before our very eyes. Ratings show that we love this kind of entertainment, maybe it adds a bit of spice to our lives? We know for the most part that it isn’t real, but this somehow doesn’t make any difference. But, when do we stop watching the game and begin to play it ourselves?

We see a lot of highs and a few lows, we see arguing, affairs, betrayal. We laugh at these programmes, thinking “oh this is so fake, they are so obviously doing this for ratings”, yet we still watch, it is still the subject of countless conversations with our friends, we all have an opinion. Eventually, we copy it, use the same language, and recognise that ‘funny look she just gave me’. It develops social problems or at least makes us very aware of what the people around us are thinking, we read into what they say before we decide whether or not it is meant as an insult or to damage us. We are on our guard.

Society is shaped through our ability to observe relationships and situations, how to deal with them and what we consider ‘normal’ behaviour. These programmes encourage us to aim for celebrity status, an easy ride to fame and fortune, discouraging hard work and incentive to build a career for ourselves. There are so many reality shows because they draw in the ratings – we just love to watch them – so consequently there are more of them, designed to shock and cause scandal. We’ve become accustomed to vulgar language, promiscuity, bullying and racism, among other things. They become the norm, we expect to see it and hear it and it no longer shocks us – a dangerous concept.

No one can deny that these programmes dictate to us what to wear, how to look, act, even what to aspire to. We judge ourselves based on what we see on these programmes: slim, athletic, attractive women who never have a hair out of place and look like they’ve just walked off the catwalk. The men are just as primed: super toned, successful entrepreneurs with so much money they couldn’t spend it in this life time or the next. They portray a perfect lifestyle, it all comes so naturally. It’s telling us, don’t worry if you fail your exams or quit your job to become a ‘star’ – I’m sure you’ll make it. After all you don’t need good grades or money to get there, just a good body and that charming wit.

The point is, these people that we see are not ‘normal’, or at least not in the conventional sense of the word. They are products of a multi-billion pound industry, people chasing a dream of getting their 15 minutes of fame, and I’m sure like us, they are paying for it too.

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  1. Raul Pupaza

    I think tv is a bad influence because there are too many negative examples

  2. alex batt

    I think TV can be a bad influence on teens that can be easily influenced to think that they aren’t worth as much as these people on reality tv, and its bad for them.

  3. samantha wood

    I think. that it isnt a bad influence and that people should be able to express there own opinion

  4. Gabe Lee

    watching kind of programs does make some kids “not be themselves” as you have said media has a big influence on us and it’s already destroyed a lot of kids in this generation. now a days a lot of kids are not as good as the kids in the 60s…. cuz I blame some of it on TV and media

  5. josh ross

    I think television allows a child creativity in thinking and the ability to sometimes make educated guesses.

  6. caitlin bradshaw


  7. Rayna Mcnair

    If people feel the need to copy what they watch on TV then it says quite a lot about them; they can’t be their own person so they copy others. I’ve watched Made in Chelsea for many years and not once have I ever watched it and thought “I’m going to act like them”. It is all purely made for entertainment and enjoyment, some people just take it too literally and don’t understand that the TV shows aren’t made to influence your personality. Aspiring to that sort of lifestyle is quite sad really, I hate to sound harsh but that’s my opinion; just be your own person

  8. Dannie Strecker

    I couldn’t help but think of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where our Earth is just a computer overseen by mice – at least we perceive their projection into our dimensionality as mice. Maybe not as heady as the literature discussed here, but the very fact that it make light of these ideas gives it a weight of its own.

  9. Horacio Martinex

    What’s less clear is why they so readily adopt a perspective that was, until recently, a hallmark of radical estrangement from reality. Does this suggest that media technologies are making us all paranoid?

  10. Scott Dallison

    Basically everything claimed by religion has evidence of residing in the brain and very few of the claims have ever been shown to be factual outside of the human brain. I think you may not have entirely understood the point I was trying to make. The reason I mentioned vision and the occipital lobe was to point out that there being a relation between brain activity and certain experiences or beliefs on the face of it says nothing about the truth or reality of what is believed or experienced. It would in a way be surprising if the new birth or a spiritual experience had no relation to brain states.

  11. Nicholas

    I think TV is entertainment; it can be informative, and it can be critical of events and encourage change. Most people I suspect consider it as entertainment, however, they also get involved in the lives of the individuals involved in the programs, which is crazy; they don’t know them, and they think of them as the characters they portray on TV.
    Critical judgement of these people is absent, instead it is a kind of voyarism.
    It is best, I feel, to remember it is entertainment.

  12. Loyola De kergommeaux

    I think tv is important but that people should also ne carefull about it !

  13. Spener Maclean

    Perhaps people nowadays are learning too much from these shows. People are less concerned with synergy of views and more concerned with winning debates.

  14. Nickson Chipato

    reality tv has to be a bit scripted and that’s because as we all know the reality of life is not so entertaining and therefor, for the makers (actors) of reality programs to make more profit they have to add something which will help their show standout from the others and that editing they do will take away the word reality from they so call “reality”. but at the end of the day we just watch it as the clock goes tick tock

  15. Mohammed Usman Ramzan

    I also agree with Amarah about NOT showing “real life” but a entertainment stunt. They want to show us what perfect life should be but we cannot achieve perfection due to other factors.

  16. Amarah Haq

    I agree, reality shows dont show the “real life” at all. They just try make us believe what life should be when us ourselves are leading a normal real life without all the extras such as looking like a supermodel day on day out.