Behind Mansion Walls … Happily Never After … Nightmare Next Door. These are just some of the titles you can view round-the-clock on Investigation Discovery — the trashy, real-life crime drama offshoot of the Discovery Channel. I have recently developed a morbid fascination with Investigation Discovery or, ID, as it prefers to be called among friends.
What do I love about it? The escapism, the decadence, the satisfying resolutions (be they grim or vindicating), the “at least it’s not me” factor, letting it run all day while I engage in mundane tasks—gruesome, entertaining background noise.
But I’m slowly realizing ID may also have its drawbacks, and our friendship its perils. Aside from the fact that I have no one with whom to pore over these shows—half because no one else has discovered this channel, half because I’m, frankly, ashamed of my low culture obsession—and aside from feeling like a sociopathic voyeur, ID has slowly begun to color how I view the world.
When you spend your days with psychotic neighbors, evil twins and conscienceless spouses, it becomes increasingly hard to discern reality from the statistical improbabilities on television. Everyone on the daily train commute is hiding some volatile secret or deranged, violent urge. Every benevolent door-holder has an ulterior motive, wants to follow you to an alley and strangle you with a shoelace.
According to Psychology Today, “Our current media environment, with its endless repetition of scary news, has the effect of magnifying threats, which gives rise to paranoia in the susceptible. Now more than ever, the stage is set for suspicious thinking.”
In an already irrational course of thinking, it’s hard to separate “scary news” from sensationalist crime drama, particularly when these dramas pride themselves on being real life.
I know what ID is doing to me, but I can’t seem to turn off the television. It’s the most exhilarating downfall. I can’t be content with uplifting narratives either. A friend recently described a show, and I found myself asking: “but does someone die?”
Psychology Today reports “Suspicion is a useful, even necessary, trait — up to a point. Even though we live in times that breed distrust, there is a line, however fine, between the healthy and the clinical.”
I foresee an ongoing battle for me, but I secretly hope beyond the realm of paranoia is a world of blissful desensitization where I can watch all the ID I please and still manage to go outside.
Do you watch true crime shows? Do you think they make you paranoid? or mentally incapacitated?