Amy Joyner was a 16-year old high school in Delaware. On Thursday, April 21st, she was brutally attacked in a high-school bathroom. Taken by life flight to the hospital in critical condition, April was later pronounced dead. Could you imagine?
Honestly, I still can’t even fathom how something of this magnitude can happen but I am not naive to the fact that situations like this can turn sour very quickly and this seems to be the case with this high school fight. According to reports, the fight took place in the bathroom where several girls were beating up Amy. While jumping her, Amy hit her head on the sink, which later would lead to the complications causing her death. It’s absolutely heartbreaking. And due to the age of social media (and the upswing of ignorance which social media fosters), it has provided unlimited access to the students who were fighting Amy. The students who fought Amy made their lack of remorse for the situation and their lack of concern for whether they would go to jail or not apparent on social media. Equally wrong, other students were recording this fatal fight. Fighting among teenagers is not rare especially in low socioeconomic areas, but there has to be a bigger underlying cause of why several high school girls felt it was okay to attack another student. So how does this happen? Was this a one-off fight never to happen again? Or, are teenagers being influenced by outside factors such as reality TV?
Admittedly, I used to love shows like Bad Girls Club and the Real Housewives of Atlanta. Heck, every once in a while I catch up on the Real Housewives of Potomac. I make this confession to say that none of us are perfect and we all indulge, but indulgence comes with a price to pay especially when there are a generation of young girls following our lead. Quite frankly, it’s not just shows with African-American casts that promote endless drama and petty fights. The “coveted” Kardashians are not exempt from this conversation. The issue lies in asking ourselves, what message are these shows conveying and furthermore, how are they impacting the way we think.
TV shows and even the news influences society’s actions, behaviors, and beliefs and so does the media. It’s programming, meant to what? Program us. Millions of dollars are spent every year on advertisements because they know the impact they have on us and our actions. But what does this all mean? It means that although we can say “oh, just because I watch it doesn’t mean I condone it,” or “I watch it because I need a dose of drama in my life,”….what? This line of thinking is what leads us to subconsciously think aggressive behaviors are okay. In a perfect world, we could watch hours of TV without being affected by the images on the screen, but that isn’t realistic. Instead, we have a society that is becoming desensitized to death and violence leading to beliefs that these behaviors are okay.
Constant exposure to dangers will breed contempt for them.-Seneca the Younger
The apparent influx of violence and aggression in adolescence has not gone unnoticed. Studies have been conducted to link reality TV and violence in the media to increase in bully like behaviors from individuals. According to the Cyber Bully Hotline, “regular reality TV viewers accept and expect a higher level of drama, aggression and bullying in their own lives than non-viewers.” Things that make you go “hmmm….(insert thought bubble).”
Is Bullying Triggered by Reality TV?
- 78% vs. 54% believe gossiping is a normal part of a relationship
- 68% vs. 50% believe it’s in the nature of girls to be catty and competitive
- 63% vs. 50% state it’s hard to trust other girls
- Self image of girls who watch reality television regularly are more focused on the value of appearance — 72% say they spend more time on the outer beauty as opposed to 42% of non-viewers
- 37% believe being mean earns you more respect than being nice (37% vs. 25%)
- 37% believe you have to lie to get what you want (37% vs. 24%)
So where are these behaviors learned? We could blame parents, but we all know it takes a village and especially in low socioeconomic areas, the TV, friends, and outside influences do more of the raising than parents due to the working schedules of parents in these environments or even just due to a lack of parenting. I’m definitely not here to place blame directly on parenting, because we don’t control who raises us. However, we can all take a further look at what is influencing us. Why can’t we find other ways to be stimulated on weeknights than watching Love & Hip-Hop or Empire? Furthermore, communication has to improve in our communities. Violence is simply not okay (in a perfect world, it would not exist), and we have to take a hard look at ourselves and who is following our lead when horrible situations like the death of Amy Joyner occurs. Reality shows should not be our resource for how to conduct our lives and relationships. Remember who you are. #RIPAmy