So, over the course of my time as a young adult, I’ve observed a strange fact: my behaviour and mentality sometimes drastically alter when I’ve watched a particular TV show or movie! I don’t know it if has to do with the genre of content or the attachment to a character or plotline, but I’ve often noticed just how impactful media content can be to my behaviour! It all started with my daily binge sessions of Criminal Minds. I went through about seven seasons within two weeks of continuously watching the show. As fascinated as I was with the idea of FBI Profilers using behavioural analysis to catch cold-blooded murders, in the weeks following my dramatic binging, I noticed my jumpy, paranoid behaviour. It was as if I had suddenly assumed I was a part of the plot line! Everything seemed suspicious, I was wary of people, and I never slept well at night. These binge sessions happened when I was back home with my family, and after I had returned to University, I noticed my strange, paranoid behaviour. Funnily enough, due to that event, I can never watch Criminal Minds when I’m at University! I only watch it when I’m back home, as my paranoid behaviour often kicks in when I’m on my own! This strange quirk of mine had me thinking: Have other people ever experienced this?
I discussed the idea with a couple of friends, and they mentioned their experiences which seemed to stem from a similar theme. A few said the fact that they often feel very empowered and ambitious for a short period (because as always, procrastination kicks in) after watching positive and motivational movies or documentaries. A friend of mine mentioned feeling responsible and accountable for people after watching movies that discussed romantic or familial themes.
Upon reading about this, I discovered numerous on-going studies that are being conducted to explore the idea. Many Psychologists argue that the method through which shows and movies are conveyed have a profound impact on our mentality, behaviour and even actions! This is because media content creates a fictional world so similar to real life that our minds often regard what we watch as our reality. This is usually the reason some kids are disillusioned by fact and fiction, as they slowly watch fictional content as they grow up. This can lead to behavioural problems in children, as they are vulnerable to strong material that tends to be influential.
On the other hand, people argue that shows and movies don’t necessarily influence behaviour or mentality, and instead create topics of conversation that incite discussions. They believe that after people discuss interests in the media, they often display the same behaviour and mentality with no real shift in thinking. It poses a challenge when it comes to determining if people genuinely feel the influence, as the argument has two sides that are equally supported. However, I believe that TV shows and movies impact me personally, and the mindset I adopt once I watch a show can usually be shifted with some light-hearted comedy, an exciting documentary, or even another episode of Criminal Minds! Other plot themes, genre shifts and character arcs can serve as a distraction from content that influences a change in your behaviour, and serves as a powerful reminder that technology truly does control a compelling aspect of our lives!