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When mental health gets ‘too real’

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19.03.2019

It’s easy to get caught up in the drama of a compelling reality show, and even easier to forget there are real people in front of the cameras. Social media chatter around reality television is intense; it’s part of the appeal for viewers, producers and contestants alike. But that chatter can quickly turn hostile, and it’s not always something contestants are prepared for.

David Witko of Bachelorette fame found himself subject to torrents of online abuse after being framed as the seasonal ‘villain’. Casting black hats and white hats is par for the reality course, and audiences understand this. But it seems some are having trouble telling fact from fiction, taking their investment in the program into dark territory.

David Witko on The Bachelorette

The wave of online abuse directed at Witko crossed over into his off-screen life, with the model losing contracts and work due to negative sentiment. He was later featured in Gena Lida Riess’ documentary Creating a Monster, exploring the psychological impact of reality show participation.

Married at First Sight’s Tracey Jewel endured substantial online abuse and threats from ‘fans’ who watch the show, leading........

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