love island mental health

Why we need to talk about the online treatment of Love Island stars…

We’re now three weeks into this year’s summer of love, and our islanders have started to bring us the drama and scandal that we crave all year-round. With the controversial on-screen moments though, comes the issue of how our Islanders are treated off-screen on social media. While most of us support the reality stars in their newfound fame with words of encouragement and support, there is always a group of people who take their opinions of the show too far and take it out on the islanders.

The nature of Love Island as a reality series is one that generates controversy and sparks conversations amongst its viewers. This is all perfectly fine, given that quite often it allows important topics to be raised that sometimes may be uncomfortable to address. However, whenever there is a slightly scandalous moment in an episode, some viewers are all too comfortable taking their annoyance at the incident out on the Islander’s social media.

So what has actually happened?

The main example of this so far in our 2021 series is through the abuse Chloe received on social media, after her decision to couple up with Aaron in week one resulted in Shannon being dumped from the Island. Shannon’s shock exit left some viewers angry at the fact she’d hardly been given a fair chance to find love in the villa, let alone win the show.

To be upset at Shannon’s dumping is understandable, but some viewers took this too far, targeting Chloe’s social media accounts with hate, trolling and death threats. This resulted in both Chloe’s family (who are running her social media while she is in the villa) and ITV releasing statements about how the abuse she was receiving is unacceptable. The statement from Chloe’s family, posted on her Instagram story, begs viewers to be more considerate and stop to think about the repercussions of what they post before sending it. They remind her followers of the deaths of previous Love Island contestants, Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis, as well as presenter Caroline Flack, each stark warnings of how dangerous social media and the sudden fame that comes with Love Island can be to individuals.

ITV’s statement

The statement from ITV was along similar lines, condemning the vile posts as ‘wholly unacceptable’, and urging viewers to ‘think before posting, and remember that our Islanders are people with feelings.’. However, we can’t help but feel like it’s almost too little too late from Love Island producers, who orchestrate situations that they know will make contestants vulnerable to abuse (which obviously does not excuse any trolling at all), as well as create challenges that create anything but the ‘positive experience’ they claim to want Love Island to be. An example of this is how in an early episode of this series, Brad was challenged to kiss the Islander he found most attractive, and the Islander he found the least attractive. Imagine being the girl he picks as least attractive on television in front of millions of viewers, the impact that could have on your mental health!

This is not a new issue…

In past series, there has been a clear disregard shown for the contestants’ mental health, as in 2018 when Islander Dani was sent a video in Casa Amor of her partner Jack’s ex-girlfriend walking into the villa, with no other information. This moment received thousands of Ofcom complaints, because of how much this impacted Dani and her time at Casa Amor.

Things may not be quite as they seem

It is also important to remember that what we are actually shown in one episode is 24 hours of footage heavily edited to deliver the most impact in the hour time slot Love Island has in an evening. Therefore, the impression that Love Island’s producers may be trying to give us of one contestant could be completely different to what they are actually like in the villa or as a person in real life. But also, even if it isn’t there is still no excuse for people to be treated online in the way that Love Island contestants are regardless of how they may come across on the show!

So please, as the Love Island villa begins to heat up with the drama brought in by the bombshells (as well as our original contestants), think before you post anything hurtful online. Don’t be that person.

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