Bye, Love Island.
Not a hot take, nor is it gospel.
It must be an old proverb or something or maybe just some Instagram quote I saw a while ago, but it's been floating around my head for some time now. Roughly, it's the idea that 'once you understand the truth of something, whether that's good or bad, your reaction and actions to it should follow suit'. I think I originally saw this in the context of a negative societal/political issue of some sort, the thinking behind it, I guess, to provoke someone to think a bit harder about the turning a blind eye narrative. But the point being that more often than not, turning a blind eye to information you might find undesirable or uncomfortable is someone else's truth to live. I guess it also highlights the idea of ignorance as a privilege rather than just bliss. And whilst there's some obvious guilt tripping and morality questioning, I generally agree with the premise, especially in a day and age where ignoring issues, more often than not, can be as simple as turning off your phone.
Phones are both a gateway to accessibility and the most illusive excuse of the modern day.
I think about this a lot.
I was a pretty avid Love Island watcher. I started in the summer of 2018 (the great summer of 2018), and was enthralled with the people, the concept, the set up, the daily hubbub from friends. We had a group chat of girls from school, I'd text my sister through the whole thing. I was in deep, and I continued the next year, I was sad to not see it hit my TV in 2020 and there I was again, July 2021, ready to be entertained.
A week later, I was watching the episode from the night before on catch up, and instead of finishing it with my appetite wet for the episode airing that night, I switched it off halfway through. Genuinely, a switch flipped.
One minute I was there for it, the next I couldn't get it off the TV quick enough.
I don't know what it was, but it just wasn't this fun, entertaining thing anymore. Suddenly, it was this source of negativity that was making me feel things about myself I haven't felt since school. Feelings of isolation, loneliness, unworthiness and just poor self reflection. I felt like I was seeing myself through the lens of a bully, rather than my own person and my own soul who inhabits this body. I was done with watching a show that champions the good looking.
Because when you watch something showcasing what worthy and gorgeous people are meant to be, and you don't share ANY commonalities with them, it's time to switch it off.
But clearly, my ignorance as bliss blinkers had been on up until that sudden point. For the 2 years I'd previously watched that show, none of the women looked a thing like me, in fact I probably share a waist size closer with the boys than the girls, which would be a laughable, bullyable offence, I imagine, if that ever did occur on the show. I mean I was sat there, as a woman who was running a body image campaign for her platform that supports and is welcome to all people, trying to reform how we're judged and recognised in society and I was watching Love. Island.
It doesn't get more ironic than that.
Now none of this is to say that you can't enjoy entertainment, I get it, I did find it entertaining. But I guess in that moment, when it came to a choice between protecting my
mental health or having something to watch, I chose the former. Thank god I did, and I will every time, now that I have that awareness. See, Love Island has the protection of hype and viewers that
really drowns out the noise, or it's potential for negative noise. I get it, people don't want to trade the drama for more negative societal revelations, 'Ria, isn't it just easier to let things be?', I hear non-existent people ask me. And yes. It absolutely is easier to 'let it be' and thus ignore it. Because, and this is where I'd like to make my stance really clear, supporting and upholding a show that subliminally promotes issues you disagree with, immediately devalues your stance. Really, what leg did I have to stand on when I was watching Love Island in the evenings and writing a blog post the next day, called 'The Self Love-Progression'. I mean, I was really out here writing:
"It’s taken me time to appreciate people the way they come, not the way others see them."
'The Self-Love Progression' by Ria Kalsi, mtrrch.com
Girl, wake up. You're not appreciating these people 'the way they come' each night, you're judging them for how they are, EVEN if it's internally, and you're only egged on by doing it with the rest of the British public.
When I say I don't have a leg to stand on, believe me, I know.
And this brings me back to my original point. I knew that the truth of what I was watching was generally negative and pretty harmful (even if I didn't realise the full extent if it at that point) and yet I chose to ignore and preach instead. Now looking back at that post, it holds such little value because I know, I was not watching Love Island every night feeling good about myself and owning who I was. It made me feel crap then as it does now, the difference is I didn't have enough respect for myself or understanding of my mental health to seperate and make a healthy choice. And outside of myself, whether it's private discussions on a group chat, or liking memes on Instagram, I was contributing to the judgemental, damaging public, which at this point can only be described as a Hydra. Yes, as in the gross snake like thing Hercules kills but can regrow its heads. To be honest, I reckon that's one of the most effective analogies for Love Island and the culture that comes with it. Chop off one bully or Instagram account and it will emerge somewhere else. Chop off a race/gender/inclusivity issue somewhere and it will pop up again, somewhere else, guaranteed.
At that point then, I think the whole proverb/Instagram quote of seeing and then either acting or ignoring goes further than just your reaction. How you react - and this is something I've said pretty frequently for a number of years now - after something has happened is the biggest teller of your character as a person. Ignoring issues that are created by Love Island, isn't just ignoring it, it's a reflection of your character.
It does make me sad and embarrassed that I chose to ignore how damaging it was whilst
trying to develop my own body confidence and faith myself. But I think I've had a huge reckoning in my morals and beliefs in the past two years. Reckoning might be the wrong
word here, but there have been stages of realisation, reflection, clearing out, relearning and starting to live them. And this year, I think my moral compass and where I stand on these issues far outweighed my need to be entertained, for the first time. Yes, I'm ready for comments about being a 'snowflake' or 'overreacting'. But when you've experienced such dark mental head spaces surrounding these issues, learning to protect yourself and spread the good, is worth being called any name under the sun for, really.
And none of this is to say there aren't issues with other things I intake, nothing is cleansed and pure and I do not believe anyone should be held to that standard. I in no way think people who watch Love Island are awful people - at all. There's a degree of negativity in everyone and exploring it openly as human nature than hiding it, I believe, can be a lot healthier. But ultimately we all have agency to use, and in the case of Love Island, it was too overwhelming not to make an active choice for myself. And whether you do the same or not is completely up to you, and doesn't speak for your worth as a whole person either way.
*deep breath out*