You can’t help it, you love Love Island. And if you’re anything like me, you can’t quite work out why…

Do you remember what it was like when you were younger and on school holidays and the frustration that you’d feel when shit went down and there was no one that you could talk to about it? There would be some huge drama amongst some of your school friends that you would find out about whilst surrounded by people who didn’t give a shit because they had NO idea who you were talking about? Do you remember how annoying that was? You’d look forward to school starting again with a hunger you didn’t think possible, doing everything in your power to remember exactly what you’d heard. You’d get through the gates on the first day back and a cry of WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THIS would be said by everyone who had ever laid eyes on the people in question.

The gossip train was relentless at school, it never stopped and everyone had a ticket. There was of course the added threat that you could be knocked down by it at any minute, but that was by the by, we didn’t care, we liked the risk.

But then we left school. We became grownups and found that it wasn’t just the gossip train that slowed down, but the amount of passengers onboard too. (Probably something to do with our student rail cards expiring now I think about it…). Although our thirst for gossip remains as strong as ever, the chances to do it become fewer and further between. Apart from the fact that we feel that we are so ‘beyond’ that, the truth is, we’re sort of lacking in opportunity. In a school with over 100 people in your year group who you saw every day, everything was sort of everyone’s business, you could talk about strangers almost justifiably.

As adults however it is sort of less okay to talk about Sue from accounting to Dave from marketing, and it’s very much less okay to then go to the whole of the PR team and expect them to give a shit about whatever piece of salacious information you have acquired, since they’ve never even met Sue, or Dave for that matter.

So we are left a little bereft, still gossipers at heart but with no outlet. That was of course until two of the 21st Century’s greatest loves came together: social media and Love Island.

It’s a turbulent time to be online. Voices are raised, arguments ensue and political opinions are being rammed down people’s throats at an unbelievable rate. But at 9pm every day, apart from on Saturday’s when thankfully most of us are too busy getting pissed to notice, all of that stops, just for an hour and we unite. We put our manifestos down and come together over our love of Jamilla, our amusement at Sam’s total lack of knowledge surrounding any well known British expression, and our fury at Liv for being, well, a bit of a tit.

And it’s not jut online either. Articles are shown to me by friends who are desperate to know if I think Mike and Jess really slept together. The pre-starter conversation at many dinners is filled with speculation as to whether Amber really is into Kem and lat night I had a heated discussion with a friend about whether Dom should have walked out with Jess or not.

Sure, not everyone is *quite* as invested in it as I am, but the sense of unity is undeniable. It’s the show we love to hate and hate to love. It’s the only reality show that we watch, or so we tell everyone. It’s actually really rather great, we say defensively as our parents us again why on earth people are shagging on TV, and actually, why we are watching it.

So why do we really love it so much?

Well, it’s fascinating. For most of us the idea of going on a show like this is truly terrifying. We consider ourselves to be a million miles away from these beautiful, toned, made-up creatures who seem to have no problem knowing that their parents, along with the rest of the UK, are fully able to watch them have sex with basic strangers on television. The language that they use is amazing and the concept is, for lack of a better word, inspired. It’s reality TV on acid, they are real people with a real job to do and we are invited to watch them every day of their lives for eight weeks. It reminds me of the time my friend and I found a website with live CCTV footage showing baby pandas in a zoo. Every day, unbeknownst to the pandas, we would come back to check on them, oddly invested in creatures that we would never meet, just because they were there.

Love Island is something like that. It is something that I would never do and not just because I am too wobbly, incapable of wearing heels on holiday and in a very happy relationship. It’s just so far from my life. And all of a sudden, this keen people-watcher has been given an access all areas pass to stranger’s lives. So I sit, a voyeur, living vicariously through people that I do not know. I’m sure this show, and our obsession with it, is a psychologist’s wet dream, but for me, and my less than impressive qualifications, I think it probably boils down to the fact that human beings love to do two things: be nosy and gossip.

For the first time, since being at school, I am able to talk openly about a group of people that all of my friends, both an on and offline, know. I haven’t got to sit and patiently explain the whole back story to a whole load of people who don’t really care about what I’m telling them, everyone just knows. 

NB. Don’t read ‘bitch’ where I have used the word ‘gossip’. This is so much more than bitching and I don’t believe that is what Love Island is about to the average viewer. This is gossip, nothing more, nothing less. It’s speculation, rumours, observation, even obsession.

It’s so inclusive and, after a really shit time online, it’s really rather welcome. It also gets me out of feeling guilty about *another* night on the sofa, which I’m thankful for.

It might be ‘trash’, but God it’s fabulous.


1 Comment

  1. Natasza
    September 29, 2017 / 8:17 am

    Living where I do, Love Island haven’t reached us yet but in this day and age it is a matter of time. But I do see your point. Back in the day everyone would comment on a new episode of Friends or Ally McBeal and now with Netflix the whole anticipation is gone because everyone is watching any given series overnight. One exception is Game of Thrones and just see how excited people are about it, how much emotion surrounding potential spoilers and oh-so-many next day discussions with friends. As for the gossip part of your discussion, I will ever so lightly disagree – especially in smaller companies, maybe around 200 people, where everyone pretty much knows one another, Sam from HR is abdolutely passionate about Kay’s from Accounting personal life. People gossip at work all the time, about everyone, with real interest. Have you heard how she got the position? Did you know his wife is pregnant? Who saw that newcomer already, is he cute? It’s truly just like school reenacted by people in their 40s. And as for the following other strangers’ lives notion, I’m just as guilty of it. There are several youtubers, who I seem to know better than people at my work who I talk to every day. Don’t even get me started on vlogs! I don’t go to school, I don’t teach but every Saturday morning I watch an hour long vlog from an American 4th grade teacher and live vicariously through every minute of it. Now THAT is something for a psychologist to comment on.

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