I was immersed in my addiction to a certain reality show where adults behave abominably and children are dragged through phenomenal amounts of pressure and public censure, when something occurred to me.
Social media has spawned new avenues for abusive behavior, causing the entities that pass and enforce laws to react. It’s an unforeseen and unfortunate cause-and-effect, but it begs a bigger question.
What will be the psychological consequences to those whose lives crest because of the hollow approbation provided by social media?
There are a lot of people surfing the wave of ‘fame’ birthed by reality TV and internet exposure.
For some it’s a flash in the pan. Their 15 minutes of recognition whether it be from trolling a finite event in the ‘real’ world, like a murder trial, or latching onto a celebrity who’ll allow them to tag along in the lukewarm world of Twitter or Instagram or any of the plethora of other ‘hit’-oriented apps.
Most of these relegate that need for attention to a minor place in their lives. It’s just a fun, little thing to pass the time.
But what about the children and, to a lesser extent, the adults who survive much more intensive exposure for years? What about the reality shows that foster their fantasies of being ‘stars,’ of being the centers of attention? And then…end.
There will be consequences to their psyches once their extended stay in the world of manufactured fame is over.
Maybe psychiatrists and psychologists have already explored this, but, from the comfortable environs of my anonymous armchair, I haven’t heard of it. So I made up my own name for it.
I call it Post Traumatic Fame Disorder.
It’s related to PTSD.
Both conditions are behavioral echoes of intense experiences. Both have power over how the sufferer reacts long after the underlying incident has ended.
Everyone has heard the cautionary tales of child stars who peak early. There have been enough of them who’ve plummeted from that first heady taste of fame into troubled lives once their celebrity fades. They trade it in for notoriety. Attention is the only antidote for the longing that’s been fostered within them. Doesn’t matter what kind.
And now reality TV and social media are duplicating that unhappy equation more than ever before.
It’ll be very interesting to see if, a decade or so from now, society will be suffering an epidemic of Post Traumatic Fame Disorder.
The wave of the future…