“There is no reality except the one contained within us. That is why so many people live such an unreal life. They take the images outside them for reality and never allow the world within to assert itself.”~ Hermann Hesse
There are hundreds of reality television shows on today and it seems like everyone is tuning in to watch. Ordinary people, just like you and me, are elevated to celebrity status. The secret thrill of thinking next time, this could be me. We could be lucky enough to receive the next makeover, be the next celebrity, or instantly become a millionaire.
Many of us are inexplicably drawn to these shows. Have you ever considered the reason we might be attracted to watching reality TV? Or examined the type of reality television we watch on a weekly basis?
Why Do We Watch Reality Television?
It may be illuminating to look at what kinds of reality TV shows we’re drawn to. A few reasons we watch the different types of reality television could include:
- To Educate
Many shows depict weight loss methods like The Biggest Loser, or cooking demonstrations and competitions like Master Chef. Although at times the information presented can be unhealthy and promote unrealistic expectations, causing us to become disheartened when we can’t replicate the results.
- To Entertain
Reality television can provide a voice to the normal, everyday person. Someone we might be able to relate to or easily identify with. We are provided with the opportunity to cheer for the Average Joe on shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo or Duck Dynasty. Although the voice of the “normal” everyday person portrayed on reality television don’t always represent ordinary well.
- To Inspire
Shows like Extreme Home Makeover or Three Wishes can provide a vehicle to fantasize about something we might want for ourselves. We can dream that all of our problems could be eliminated in one televised hour.
- To Escape
Tuning out everyday life and immersing ourselves in the life of a celebrity, or a spirited competition like Survivor, or The Apprentice can provide an escape from focusing on issues in our own lives. A little escape might be beneficial for stress relief, but too much could prevent us from facing our own issues and feelings.
How Much is too Much?
If we notice we are watching a variety of reality shows on an ongoing basis, that these shows make up a significant proportion of the types of shows found appealing, then we may want to consider some self reflection around this activity.
Watching a few shows doesn’t mean you have a problem. “Being hardworking and self-disciplined in my own live, I enjoy the escape into fantasy and melodrama at the end of the day as well as the rags to riches stories, over the top diva antics, glamorous lifestyles and mean girls (and boys) shenanigans.”~ Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D, Clinical Psychologist, Author, Speaker
There is a difference between a person who watches one or two shows occasionally and just enjoys the show for entertainment, versus someone who really is drawn to, or attracted to—some people go as far to claim they are addicted to—reality TV.
For more tips on why we watch reality television and how much is too much read my article here:
My wish for you today is that you may find enough joy and happiness in your own reality everyday that you never need an escape.
-Kathleen Dwyer Blair, LCSW, BCD
Director Nassau Guidance and Counseling