Reality Shows: Self-esteem Verses Self-destruction

-Candice Smith, contributing writer

On one end of the spectrum, you have your more positive and upbeat reality television shows such as “The Voice,” “Survivor,” “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “The Biggest Loser,” “Duck Dynasty,” and “19 Kids and Counting.” On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are the loud, obnoxious, unruly, pull-your-hair-out, cat claw shows such as “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” “The Real Housewives” (too many to list), “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” and “Bad Girls Club.” Some reality shows are positive, upbeat, healthy shows that bring families together or make you want to cry tears of joy. Other reality shows have you questioning how this ever became a hit show at all!

According to, reality (noun) is “a state of resembling what is real. Then, according to the definition used as an adjective, it is noting or pertaining to a TV program or film that portrays nonactors interacting or competing with each other in real, but contrived (meaning forced or artificial), situations, allegedly without a script.” The sad part? An entirely too large of a percentage of our population actually feel that these shows are real and try to emulate their life according to these shows. Some of these shows have people feeling they, too, can achieve this type of celebrity status. All they need to do is grab a cellphone and a friend and film themselves acting in the most absurd and inappropriate way because, after all, that is what draws in the crowds and makes the views or soar, right? Intelligence is thrown to the wayside and is supplanted with tight dresses, extensions, fast cars, vulgarity, foul language, loss of mannerisms, infidelity, un-lady like women and overall general immorality.

According to, individuals who watch non-competitive reality shows are more extroverted, irrational, disturbed and exhibit lower self-worth than their counterparts. Of the 19,000 individuals who participated in a survey, more than half of the men and women watched non-competitive reality shows out of shear boredom. Forty-six percent of women and 26 percent of men watch to see what it is like to be rich and famous. One thousand one hundred teen girls were interviewed and it was determined that while some reality shows can be uplifting and motivational, other reality shows can damage their relationships (or ideas of one) and self-image. Also, teen girls who watch certain reality shows on a regular basis tend to have more aggressive and dramatic behavior coupled with bullying verses their counterparts. The same girls also felt physical appearance was the only way to measure ones’ value of their self.

Many reality television viewers turn to these shows to make them feel better about their own lives because they are not satisfied. If you watch “Hoarders,” you may feel a sense of relief because you do not have a mountain of garbage in your home. Schadenfreude is a term used when people enjoying taking pleasure while viewing the misfortune of others. Maybe it is not done in a purposeful manner but it is still done. It is not a very healthy defense mechanism because the viewer is postponing their own responsibilities to revel in the discontentment of others’ lives. According to, 70 percent of reality television fans consider themselves to be extroverts, meaning they obtain much of their information from the television or Internet (the outside world, so to speak). It is very disheartening to know that many people have lost the art of conversation that does not include gossip, fighting, vulgarity, the latest trend, the hottest person, the newest fad diet or the most recent celebrity scandal.

One simply cannot watch celebrity garbage and still portray a decent amount of self-esteem. As per, self-esteem is “a realistic RESPECT for or favorable impression of oneself; self-respect.” It seems that self-esteem is all about respect for oneself and a person cannot have personal respect if their biggest influences do not have respect for themselves. A person who is truly happy with the self will not find it necessary to try and live their life through an electronic device or television screen.

If you absolutely just cannot live without reality television, at least switch the channel from a reality show that makes you feel you have to dress, act, look, think, eat, socialize, or behave a certain way in order to be happy with yourself. That is not true happiness. That is misery. Instead, find a show that is competition-based because most competitive shows are going to be based on individual talents and will depict how hard a person has to work to achieve a desired goal. If you have the will power, turn off the television and electronic devices and participate in conversations and activities that will allow you to look within and say “I am happy. I like myself the way I am. I do not need anyone else in the world to validate my self-worth!”


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