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How Reality TV Turns Us Into Mean Girls

Quick PSA: Reality TV Doesn't Have to Turn Us All Into Mean Girls

The world we live in today is veiled in false realities. From social media to reality television, warped views of the world and the people in it are constantly pulling us in — making it even harder to decipher what's real and what's been created simply for an audience.

With Peter Weber's season of The Bachelor at the centre of so many think-pieces about producer manipulation, it's more apparent than ever that things have gotten out of control — please see excessive champagne theatrics, blatant set-ups, and "can I steal you for a minute" dramatics.

This isn't new to us — every passing season brings a new crop of men and women for us to either demonize or perch on a high pedestal. We take to social media to share our candid commentary, praising those we strive to be like and completely tearing down those who seem to have less than honest intentions (Aalayah? Kelsey? Victoria F.? All three??? Honestly who even knows anymore). The reasons why we love to hate them are neither here nor there, but here's my question: are we only hating because we are convinced we have to?

Now don't get me wrong, as a longtime fan of trashy reality TV, (shout out to Love Island, Ex on the Beach: Peak of Love, Are You the One, etc.) and an even longer fan of the Bachelor franchise, I am not immune to the spewing of ugly commentary towards each season's villain. In fact, I've found it's something my friends and I have even bonded over.

But producers on The Bachelor and similar shows have gone too far in promoting villainy for the sake of ratings, and we continuously prove that we enjoy disliking the caricatures we're presented with. The more we respond with Tweets tearing down contestants or "like" toxic Twitter battles between contestants, the worse things are going to get.

It's not wrong to have an opinion and it's not wrong to share that opinion, but somewhere along the way, disliking the "villain" on your chosen reality TV show becomes something a little more sinister. Presumptions and judgments annihilate their character and an outpouring of hateful words create an avalanche of snowballing ugliness that is all too common on social sites.

As an audience, we've become desensitized to the hurt these human beings must feel. It's all too easy to be a complacent bystnader — or an active participant — because these people don't seem real. After all, they signed up for it, thus accepting the social contract that says they may be mercilessly mocked. What are we saying when we so harshly attack someone? That it's OK to be cruel if producers portray them as unlikeable? That it's OK to hate on women because we also hate on men during The Bachelorette?

There's power in kindness: it's not too late to reverse this, one Twitter user at a time.

Image Source: ABC
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