Editorial Notebook

Stop using media to judge your love life

My freshman year of high school—a whole whopping six years ago—consisted of multiple hours watching Gossip Girl, and dreaming over having that lifestyle. I adored Dan Humphrey, a character played by Penn Badgley, who (spoilers ahead) was revealed in the end as the creepy blogger the show was named after. Now, years later, I can’t help but think how foolish I was to have liked his character; I was blinded by how the show presented the idea of love.

I imagine that because Penn Badgley fit the role of Dan Humphrey so well, he was cast for the new lead role in the Netflix Original show, You. He plays a similar stalker role as he did in Gossip Girl, and it’s eerie how his character, Joe Goldberg, goes about obtaining the love of his life. He tackles many issues very poorly and is often stuck cleaning up a huge mess that could have been avoided altogether. (Literally, all he needs to do is communicate.)

While I agree that shows like You and Gossip Girl are entertaining and help make my days a little less dull, it scares me when I read comments or reviews about how young females are obsessing over Joe Goldberg—they’re convinced that there’s nothing wrong with his actions. Even popular celebrities like Millie Bobby Brown are taking Joe’s side, claiming he’s simply in love and chooses to express it uniquely. Shows of this nature normalize the idea that love has to be controlled and forced. They create this notion that one has to go out of their way to win over someone’s heart, and that’s just not right or realistic.

In reality, people are generally much different than depicted on television. And it’s a terrifying thought that media is able to tell us how to feel by portraying what they think the average person desires. I too have sympathized with many characters as they go about their journey of finding love. However, there’s a major difference between feeling for a character and using their situation as a means of comparison to real life. This comparison can make you chase a fairytale that was never meant to exist—trust me, I find myself doing this often.

Issues occur when unrealistic expectations are used to judge real-life situations. I remind myself constantly of this and hope this serves as a little public service announcement that media isn’t playing out your life. That show you’re obsessed with right now or that song you really like isn’t based on reality, and you can’t waste your life searching for that reality—there’s too much you’ll miss out on if you’re blindsided by false hope.