Why Can’t I be that Person on TV?

Stefanone et al. conducts a study to investigate the relationship between selfie-related behaviour and reality television shows (RTV). They define a reality television show as “programs that film real people as they live out events in their lives, as these events occur”. Having said that, programmers have the option to pick and choose what they want their audience to see and create this ideal of a life their audience may want to live. Stefanone et al. found that there was a positive relationship with the people who are heavy viewers of RTV and those who make edits to the composition and subject of their photos. I think it is possible that a large consumption of RTV is linked to this persona on social media platforms. But why are they creating these personas and how is it competitive and how does it affect one’s self-esteem and their vision of self-worth?

It can be inferred that RTV can impact heavy viewers by creating a life that they may want to live. In the case that a RTV star is posting selfies of themselves on Instagram, a heavy viewer of that specific RTV may be inclined to do the same thing because they may want to live the life that the specific star is living. It is extremely relevant to young adults these days, especially with models from Instagram and other social media platforms. I have seen amongst many of my friends who try and mimic their Instagram profile to be similar of those from RTV or even Youtube stars. These images that are created by producers and programmers of RTV, Youtube, or Instagram can create this ideal living that their consumers may want to pursue. Then the competitive side to this comes from the rewards that celebrities have by  participating in self-presentation. Now the audience of RTV seem to be competing for who can have the most followers, most likes on their pictures, or even most comments on their pictures. The standard that they are trying to meet in terms of followers, likes, and comments are based off of those who are celebrities. 

Through the editing of their subject and composition on viewer’s pictures, it can be evident that they are trying to mimic what celebrities of RTV are doing. Through the study, one can make the inference that viewers of RTV tend to want to model the lives from those in RTV. This link from competition may not be obvious at first, but when one realizes that RTV is often involved in competition then the relationship will be more obvious. Some RTV shows are often competition amongst the different celebrities in seek of a reward, for example: Big Brother for money, The Bachelor for love, etc. If the audience member begins to model the characters within RTV, then they will essentially be modelling this ideal of competition between each other. 

As referred to in Hutcheon’s article, competition makes people act in a wolfish behaviour. She tries to point out that competition is actually detrimental to the progress we are making as humans versus a benefit. Similar to this case, there is no point in viewers trying to compete for followers and fame. It does far more damage to one’s self-esteem and vision of their self-worth. Regarding Blaise’s post, social media has made this illusion that maybe people aren’t being honest with who they are. Trying to be like someone they see on RTV isn’t necessarily who they really are. 

Photo Credit: https://boddenbites.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/social-medias-influence-eating-for-experience-not-just-food/


  1. Hi Austin K, I totally agree that in the negative ways that competition can affect an individual can be very detrimental even to our society. I was really persuaded with your research response and the analysis you made to Stefanone’s article. You made a really interesting point of how people these days mimic celebrities and model their characteristics from RTV, including, how they would from that begin to model competition. I am interested on what would your take be to make media become a more cooperative nature than its already incredibly competitive one? would there even be a solution to cooperative media in general?


  2. Hi Shaina, I’m not entirely sure there is a cooperative way for media. I’m sure that if there was more research done into how people can participate in a non-competitive use of social media, we could potentially find a method to a more cooperative way in media.


  3. Hi Austin! Great reading response, I also see many users of Instagram get influenced by people from RTV or Youtube Stars. For example, with the growing popularity of the Kardashians, many people and fashion websites have tried mimicking their outfits and people change their appearance to try to look like them.
    I also agree where you state that you find that competition on social media comes from wanting to mimic what celebrities of RTV are doing and how you state that this link from competition may not be obvious at first. Do you think this contributes to a type of social norm on Instagram that people try to follow? As there are so many trends that are constantly changing with celebrities always changing and popularity changing between people. How do you think competition arises from that?


  4. Hi Selina,
    I think that social norms do come up from the competition on Instagram. I know through a lot of my friends that there are certain times that someone must post, and certain things that you can or can’t post. Competition generally arises from that through followers and likes because the more comparable you are to the celebrity you are striving to be, the more likely you are to mimic their behaviour.


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