Millions (literally millions) of people watch reality TV shows in Australia. But have you ever thought why do we watch reality TV? Here are three core and defining reasons that could be at the heart of our voyeuristic leisure activity.
We need comparison in reality TV
Comparison helps us to recalibrate and set expectations for ourselves and our own lives. By getting to watch people in “real life” without having to interact with them and create a genuine emotional connection with them, we can engage in this indulgent device.
The ‘…appeal of reality shows is the chance they provide for us to compare ourselves with other people involved in situations that we may wish we could be in, or are glad we’re not.’
It’s also one of the most effective ways to live through an experience without actually having to live through it and all the risks, damage and emotions that it can involve.
Reality TV digs up empathy
One of the most fundamental human traits is empathy and it’s the cornerstone of human behaviour. It has even been identified as a key emotion in effective leadership.
Witnessing real people go through real situations can evoke deep core empathy. And watching reality tv is not as much about witnessing humiliation as it is about eliciting empathy.
Having empathy is our fundamental mechanism to understanding one another and when we understand something, we are at peace with it. And some people (Buddhists etc) could argue that discovering/chasing peace is at the core of our purpose.
When we understand something, we are at peace with it.
Reality TV creates connection
As with most consumed entertainment, talking about it creates connections with individuals that are in your life (and not behind a screen). Have you noticed how often you reach out to a co-worker or family member when there’s a silence to say ‘hey… did you see such and such on show name last night?’
Watching reality TV can even be good for you!