Today there are countless sources of entertainment and media for us to enjoy, but with this expansive accessibility one must be mindful of the influential impact that can happen when consuming day-to-day media.
According to psychological studies, in our most formative years, our ideals of romance came from two main sources: 1. Our parents (or adults alike), and 2. The media. There is no denying that movies, books, social media, and reality shows are consuming our thoughts throughout the day, and when the source is as good as it gets, it can seem so real and trustworthy.
So, we may all recognize that yes, the media has told us all about love and romance, but the real question is, does it impact us negatively or positively?
In romantic-drama reality shows such as The Bachelor, Love Island, and Married at First Sight (just to name a few), there is an occurring theme of drama-filled relationships, where people share their real struggles as a couple or an individual trying to find love. This, inherited from its genre, is real (to a degree) and does try to show us what the reality of finding ‘the one’ can entail. However, some may argue that this is destructive in its teachings, as these shows are still not as true as they should be, and because most series are semi-scripted, a skewed outlook of dramatic and shocking behavior toward relationships is attained. According to a research article, the UK show Love Island was watched by over 3 billion viewers, with the majority being young women aged 16-34, this indicates the range of minds being exposed to this type of media.
Due to these reality shows’ core reason being entertainment, a lack of concrete teaching of healthy relationships can be pinpointed, as most cast members do act out and behave erratically. This can be seen as a negative impact, as those watching are still in their pubescent and formative young adult years and stand the risk of believing that love is supposed to be so dramatic, immature, and explosive. Studies have shown that television plays an important role in our intellectual and emotional development, as it is our first and foremost teacher above all else. This can be a great concern, as the expanse of sources surrounding the concept of love, relationships and romance is so widely spread, making it difficult to even begin to analyze a specific problem.
Some may argue, however that these shows are just that, sources of entertainment, and that if anything, are teaching them how not to act when pursuing a relationship with another. According to the same research article, a large amount of the young people interviewed revealed that reality shows, such as Love Island, were only watched for entertainment value, and were not viewed as sources of love advisory. However, one must worry about the other range of young minds who are vulnerable to this consumption of media teachings and do genuinely learn their relationship habits from the shows they watch.
The issue with always consuming this type of media is that we subconsciously give in to this deceptive portrayal of different love stories and scenarios. Unfortunately, television is not the only type of media that impacts our beliefs about love. Social media is found to be the biggest culprit of affecting people’s mental health, happiness, and relationships. According to psychotherapist, Ken Page, social media tends to ignore the ‘gritty’ and mundane parts of a couple’s life, where an image showing a couple traveling the world can rather lead to envy and dissatisfaction in a relationship. This type of exposure negatively impacts a relationship as it fails to show the goodness one can experience without having to be doing exactly what they see another is doing on social media. According to Ken Page, things such as struggles, chores, compromise, and intimacy during challenges is what is most valuable, however is typically overlooked due to the exposure of multiple social media posts portraying a different teaching.
As we all should know, social media and media alike is not as it seems, and because we don’t know the behind the scenes, we should always take what we see with a grain of salt. It is difficult not to be influenced by what we see each day, and I am the first to admit that the waves of comparison when seeing others on social media is tricky to doge, however it is important that we stay self-aware of these feelings. If we can spot the negative impacts that we are experiencing due to our media intake, then that is the first step to knowledge and growth. There is no saying that media only impacts us harmfully, however it is something that needs to be consumed carefully and strategically in a way that only benefits you and your relationship in a good way!
- Shackleford, K., 2019. Psychology of Popular Media, [online] (7th Edition). Available at: <https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/ppm/index> [Accessed 25 October 2021].
- Isaacson, T., 2016. ROMANTICALLY THEMED MEDIA AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF CHILDREN’S UNDERSTANDING OF LOVE. Degree of Masters of Art in Communication. Boise State.
- Porter, J. and Standing, K., 2020. Love Island and Relationship Education. School of Humanities and Social Science, [online] Available at: <https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fsoc.2019.00079/full> [Accessed 23 October 2021].
- mindbodygreen. 2021. Ken Page, LCSW on mindbodygreen. [online] Available at: <https://www.mindbodygreen.com/wc/ken-page-lcsw> [Accessed 24 October 2021].