Reality TV: A very real killer

Reality TV seems to have become an inescapable part of everyday life. You can’t move for news of what a Kardashian is eating or what clothes someone from Made In Chelsea was seen wearing.

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(Credit: Dean Leu)

People can make an insane amount of money from reality TV: there are deals to be made, paid advertising to be displayed and the odd magazine cover to grace. Talk about yourself on live television, make sure your life is interesting, maybe stage a big fight and you’re laughing. Of course this is all made easier by the ridiculous sums of money you’re paid for drinking some special water brand and appearing on our screens every single day.

The old saying goes, ‘if it looks too good to be true, it probably is’ and there sure are some downsides to a life in the limelight – lack of privacy, threats on your life and constant trolling on social media? It’s what you get if you want to have all that money! “Suck it up sweetheart, you’ve got it so easy with your mansion and 17 sports cars, you don’t live like the rest of us!” We’ve heard the same rhetoric over and over with each new face that pops up on our screens but nothing is changing, and the growing problem of reality star suicide isn’t changing. Between 2004 and 2016, at least 21 American reality TV stars took their own lives with suggestion unfurling about whether reality TV attracts more unstable people or whether it’s the aftermath of their new found fame that drives them to such actions.

The unstable theory is an interesting one. Ever thought to yourself, ‘I could never go on TV and have my every move followed like that’? Well for those people this theory makes total sense – they think that it takes a certain kind of person to live the reality TV lifestyle, and that person must be more unstable, more needy, and more self conscious. They must be different to us ‘normal’ human beings! We couldn’t possibly have anything to do with it! Wrong… and this is where the two theories intertwine. The second theory being that the aftermath of those 15 minutes of fame is what leads to a downward spiral. The paparazzi badgering, the maintenance to stay relevant and current, the harsh celebrity treatment, it’s no wonder that some celebrities find being thrust into a totally alien lifestyle can be too much. We treat celebrities like we own them and dispose of them easily because we know there will be someone else to fill their shoes. We stalk them on social media, in real life and on our TV screens, then we ridicule them in gossip magazines, Instagram and forums, and when they’ve had enough of our disgusting behaviour? We throw them aside because some new show has come along. And when you’re led to believe that this is your job, you have to perform or else the rent won’t get paid, you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll play along. It’s a twisted tug-of-war against the humiliation of admitting defeat (that you couldn’t keep on top of the fame) or letting the reality TV mill defeat you entirely. It’s unsurprising that we see people struggle under the cast iron grip of fame in the modern era.

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Constant attention (both from the public and the press) can be detrimental to mental health. (Credit: Shena Tschofen)

Just because we see people on our TV screens doesn’t make them a pawn in our game – they might look like it, but they’re not Barbie dolls to be disposed of. You shouldn’t rip the arms off them and then leave them at the bottom of your garden, forgotten and used up. And yet this continues to happen, very few reality stars of last month are remembered, let alone those of yesteryear. Our harsh view of them should never drive someone to suicide, but we continue to overlook the scrutiny and continue consuming whatever the big bosses of Reality TV-Land have to offer us; another Kardashian series? Yes please! A new spin off of The Only Way Is Essex? Why not, it’s something to fill your Tuesday night void.

We don’t have to remember every single person that joins a reality TV cast, it wouldn’t be possible to, but if we treated them a little bit gentler and with a tad more respect, then those grim suicide statistics will drop. Some people will have underlying issues that we are not to blame for, but the incessant trolling and bullying has to go. Don’t poke the fire that has already claimed too many lives, don’t endanger more lives – just be kinder to others and remember that the reality you see is a loose definition, not necessarily a definite truth.

For more on celebrity privacy, read Luka Kenyon’s article on celeb social media.

Parents told not to panic over Momo Challenge

Parents across the UK have been warning their kids about a viral internet challenge – which has been deemed a hoax.

The Momo Challenge features a picture of a woman’s face with bulging eyes attached to a bird’s body. The image is being circulated around social media platforms – mostly YouTube and WhatsApp – encouraging children to partake in violent dares. Most of the dares involve self-harming or harming others, with the final dare encouraging the viewer to take their own life.

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Photograph credit: Lauren Archer

A number of videos featuring Fortnite or Peppa Pig – which are popular with children – have been edited to to include the image of Momo and the violent messages.

A Scots mum found her four-year-old son with pills in his hand after being targeted by the Momo Challenge online. Brad told mum Rachel, from Fife, that he had been told to do “bad things” by the bug-eyed character including hit himself with a hammer. Rachel said her son had been traumatised after watching the video – which she believes was added into a children’s show on YouTube – forcing him to wake up screaming “Momo” in the middle of the night.

Rachel said: “Brad told me she had been telling him to do bad things – find a hammer and hit himself with it, go in the bath when there were no adults there. He had started sneaking off to the bathroom and randomly putting the taps on and we found him with a pill packet two weeks ago. This is him starting to do what they have been telling him to do”.

This isn’t the first instance of a viral challenge encouraging kids to commit suicide. The Blue Whale Challenge featured online in 2016, with the same ending as the Momo Challenge: committing suicide. A number of suicides were connected with the Blue Whale Challenge but none were confirmed to be a result of playing the game.

YouTube have insisted they have no evidence of the videos that allegedly promote the challenge. A spokesman said: “Contrary to press reports, we’ve not received any recent evidence of videos showing or promoting the Momo challenge on YouTube. Content of this kind would be in violation of our policies and removed immediately”.

Police Scotland released a warning, telling parents and guardians: “We would encourage parents not to panic, but instead sit down with their children and talk about all aspects of their online world and explain the potential dangers”.

EN4News in Numbers

In a world of constant news bombardment, some info can fall through the cracks. We’ve assembled a list of interesting factoids so you don’t have to worry about missing out!

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Infographic (Credit: Jade du Preez)

 

Children’s Mental Health Week rounds off fourth consecutive year

(Credit: Let The People Speak)

Children’s Mental Health Week comes to an end in the UK this weekend after the ‘Place2Be’ campaign received an overwhelming amount of support on social media.

Overseeing school talks and spreading awareness has been the main focus for mental health organisations this week after figures were released late last year showing that one in eight people under the age of 19 suffered from mental health issues.

The ‘mental health of young people and children survey’ conducted by the NHS was launched in November 2018 and provided evidence to suggest that one in five children were victims of cyberbullying, statistics many organisations have highlighted to underscore the importance of awareness campaigns like Children’s Mental Health Week this year.

Place2be‘ has focused this week around their ‘Health: Inside and Out’ campaign which attempts to spread awareness around the physical wellbeing of children and how it can affect their mental state.

However, much attention has now been drawn towards the social media aspect of the campaign after reports surfaced of children attempting to commit suicide as a result of online bullying in the past few months.

According to government surveys, at least 40% of parents are concerned about their child’s wellbeing in relation to online bullying.

Many public figures have been spreading awareness on Twitter using ‘#ChildrensMentalHealthWeek’, sparking high levels of online debate regarding recent issues.

Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour party used the hashtag to push for better access to arts and sports in schools:

Mick Coyle, presenter for Radio City Live in Liverpool, highlighted a public art project that saw 200 pairs of childrens’ shoes laid out, representing the annual suicide rate for young people:

Government proposals have now been put forth as a part of Children’s Mental Health Week and MP’s are now expected to introduce sanctions on social media websites in order to tackle the ongoing cyberbullying crisis.

 

Facebook bans Britain First

Britain First deputy leader Jayda Fransen and leader Paul Golding have both seen their pages banned

Facebook has removed the pages of the anti-Islamic Britain First group as well as its leaders profiles.

This action was taken after the social media company said that the group had repeatedly violated its community standards policy. Ignoring its final warning.

The Britain First Facebook page before it was shut down.

Just earlier this month, Britain First’s leader and deputy leader, Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, were jailed after be found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment.

The groups Facebook page has over 2 million likes. The pages of its two leaders also had a huge following.

The group will not be allowed to create any further pages to serve as a replacement.

Facebook judged that several of the posts were designed to promote both religious and racial hatred against Muslims.

Just a few of the antisocial posts include:

  • A photo of the top leaders of the group with the caption “Islamaphobic and Proud”
  • A caption of Muslim immigrants with animals.
  • Multiple videos and images posted with the aim of inciting hate against Muslims

Facebook said that it is an open platform that allows free expression of people opinions but any political views should be expressed without hate.

These actions come after much public outcry for the page to be shut down.

Facebook’s community standards document says “Organisations and people dedicated to promoting hatred against these protected groups are not allowed a presence on Facebook.”

Twitter suspended the accounts of Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, after its new anti-abuse rules came into force last December.

Previously President Donald Trump has come under criticism for retweeting anti-Islamic videos posted by Jayda Fransen.

 

 

Teenager charged in connection with assault of 12-year-old girl in Livingston

A teenager has been charged in connection with an assault on a 12-year-old girl after a video was posted on social media. The incident took place in Ladywell, Livingston at around 8pm on Saturday.

Police are said to be following a positive line of inquiry and are attempting to identify additional suspects.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said:

“A 13-year-old girl has been charged in connection with this incident and officers are currently following positive lines of enquiry to trace others believed to be involved.”

“Officers are aware of video footage and communication posted to social media and would ask that members of the public ensure they conduct themselves appropriately online.”

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