Reality TV shows are polarizing; there’s no arguing with that.
They take ‘regular old’ people, place them in abnormal situations and (with the help of crafty producers), squeeze as much drama out of said sitch as possible.
These shows are melodramatic. They cast people who frustrate audiences. And once they’ve wrapped up, the contestants often take over our Instagram feeds promoting teeth-whitening products.
And while the productions and their cast members can be, well… testing at times, that does not give you permission to be a jerk and bully the people involved.
Speaking with Magda Szubanski, the ex-reality TV star explained just how extreme her experience with online bullying was after Bachelor Richie Strahan named her as his final lady:
“I woke up the next morning after the finale, getting ready to do all of my fun radio rounds with Richie and then it was just a barrage of hate and trolling and private messages,” she told Szubanski.
“I have been sent a step-by-step of how to kill myself, pictures of how to do it, I’ve been told that I’m better off dead and my son’s better off without me.
“Yeah, really awful stuff.”
The abuse has continued over the three years since Strahan’s season of The Bachelor, and sadly, her story isn’t unique.
Many questions have been asked about the impact reality TV fame can have on mental health, especially since the tragic suicides of two Love Island contestants within the space of a year.
With limited preparation for the pressure of fame, it’s not uncommon nor surprising that contestants of these successful shows struggle to adjust.
In fact, a New York Post article from 2016 reported that over 20 former reality TV contestants had committed suicide between 2004 and then.
“The reality of it is, your words can be final and that’s it,” Nation went on to stress during her interview, pointing out that you “don’t know what the person’s headspace is.”
So, by all means: yell at the TV. Post funny tweets when you spot an a-grade GIF. Even call out bad behaviour if it’s warranted.
But do not attack these people with hateful messages. Just because you’re seeing them on a screen, doesn’t mean they’re impervious to your cruelty.