Love Island depression: why Instagram TV is dangerous

Love Island depression: why Instagram TV is dangerous

I have a soft spot for Love Island, and the naive people they get on there. But watching it can also be hard work.

The idea of the show is that these people are presented as if they are just like you - normal people, with normal backgrounds. Anybody can apply. This could have been you. In fact why wasn't it?

The answer is simple, and sometimes you have to spell it out to yourself: these people are not normal people. I know the producers will throw in a token sweet one like the adorable Dr Alex, but never on Love Island do you see somebody who might think twice before getting their body out on camera; somebody who worries about running out of conversation when around strangers; a man who gets intimidated by the idea of being with 'lads'. You never see anyone who really gets panics before a date, or someone who's a tiny bit prudish when bragging about their sex life with someone they've literally just met.

This makes sense. The challenges presented in Love Island are awkward, and if you think you can have a go at it in front of 6 million-plus viewers with newspaper headlines and nasty tweets being written about you forever, then you must have a pretty tough backbone. Write it off as attention seeking or stupidity if you like, but the media world is tough. Normal people can't hack it. These people might be from 'normal' backgrounds, but most of them made it through the application process because they are not normal.

The producers themselves use the word "aspirational" to describe the show. We are supposed to aspire to look like them, be confident like them and live like them. When you put it like that, you can see why the show and its stars make so much money out of fashion sponsors. It is the Instagram of TV.

That is dangerous. Instagram is addictively good, but we are slowly coming round to the idea that it can be dangerous because the profiles we find on there aren't the same as the real people you might hang out with. We must look at Love Island the same way.

Important: this page was written before the death of two former contestants. It talks about the effects of Love Island on the mental health of viewers, not contestants - which is a subject worthy of its own detailed investigation.

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I write about media, exploring, heavy machinery and lists. I produce radio with an attitude accurately described as "amusingly surly".

I don't pretend to be anything close to a big player in the media industry. I'd like to think that's an advantage. Instead I try to remain well-read and approach things from a considered viewpoint, even if I absolutely hate the way the industry is going.

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Any similarities with real-life events or wealthy international firms is probably coincidental. No products endorsed. I'm powered by Monster Munch.

© 2020 Johnathan Randall.