Hey there f******g a******e, piece of s**t, how you doin’?
Wait. Did my welcome greetings offend you? I wonder why. Considering you, like most people religiously watch Bigg Boss, I thought you might be used to this brand of language by now.
After all, isn’t the king of TRP charts thriving on host Salman Khan’s popularity and exploiting long-forgotten “artists” who just abuse on camera? Oops! I forgot, it’s just entertainment, yaa! Or is it?
Turns out, watching Bigg Boss and other aggressive reality television shows can be terrible for your mental health.
Relax! Before you “take a stand” against my claim, you’ve got to know that it is backed by mental health experts and scientific research. So, don’t be an impatient Siddharth Shukla, calm your nerves, and check out the reasons why:
1. Watching Bigg Boss can make you aggressive like Dolly Bindra
According to a study conducted at Central Michigan University: “exposure to the nasty relational aggression in reality shows can increase aggression in viewers even more than exposure to violent media, like crime dramas.”
Psychotherapist Aparna Samuel Balasundaram blames it on the body’s response mechanism and explains: “In a hospital’s intensive care unit, if one baby cries, all the others start crying one by one. Similarly, watching aggression can trigger aggression. All this is because of the mirror neurons in the body that may prompt you to mirror or copy the behaviour of your on-screen idols.”
2. BB=Bad Behaviour
“Repeated exposure to a particular stimulus can desensitize you towards it,” explains Dr Samir Parikh, psychiatrist and director, Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Healthcare in Delhi.
This simply means that when you witness the celebrities in their so-called “real” avatars constantly fighting and hurling abuses at each other–all seven days of the week–you might just begin to think that it’s okay to behave this way.
Moreover, watching your on-screen idol being totally out of line on national television could make it easier for you to justify your bad behaviour–in your head, at least.
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3. It could give you an inferiority complex
“Moti bhains”, “bade hoth waali chipkali”, “you don’t have a figure that’ll ever make me want to touch you”—this is just the mild version of the nasty body shaming that goes on in the house, season after season. FYI, not only can this ruin the confidence of a contestant on the receiving end, it can even affect the confidence of a viewer.
“Reality shows have an added impact as we tend to think that those bullies are real people. Hence, if you don’t get inspired to become a bully yourself, you might just end up feeling like the victim, who was attacked with insulting words,” says Balasundaram.
4. You could even get a God complex
If the lesser-known participants can trigger aggression and inspire bad behaviour, imagine the impact that its immensely-popular host, Salman Khan can have!
5. Bigg Boss can worsen the taboos around mental health
Not so long ago, a regional version of Bigg Boss saw contestants acting like patients of a mental hospital—thanks to a task given to them. The “craziest” and “funniest” one of them all was hailed as the entertainer. That’s not it! Even the more popular Hindi version hosted by Salman recently saw a contestant using the word “psycho” for an aggressive co-contestant as though it were an adjective to be thrown around.
Says Dr Parikh:
The irresponsible portrayal of mental health issues in the media is a cause of concern and can make it difficult for those suffering from them to come out and talk about their issues.
If all you care about is entertainment, then remember this:
“It is important to have a censorship approach and media literacy and understand that reality television shows are a false perception of reality. What you see is not entirely true and is not meant to be taken seriously,” warns Dr Parikh.
“If such shows have entertainment value for you, then, always keep a purposeful filter and don’t over identify with the characters you see,” concludes Balasundaram.
She even suggests having open conversations about the impact of such shows with those who watch them in order to create awareness about the same.