Changing the Way We View the True Crime Genre

(Image credit — Harper’s Bazaar)

True Crime. The form of entertainment that has captivated millions across the country and the world with addicting storylines and the gory details. But the stories that captivate us the most? The ones that are taking place in real time. Most notable recent ones have been the Gabby Petito case, the Elisa Lam case, and many more.

And before I begin, I am in no way innocent here. On many occasions true crime has captivated me as well, and I am addicted to listening to old Dateline episodes before I go to bed. I’m simply here to make a case for why we should maybe think a little more consciously about our true crime addictions.

Why True Crime Captivates Us

This idea of a current story that is still developing is interesting to people for two reasons. One, it gives us something to pay heavy attention to, almost an addiction. But secondly, and more importantly, it is captivating to the hundreds of thousands of “internet sleuths” as they are called. Whenever these big cases come around that capture the nation’s attention, people on subreddits, facebook pages, twitter, and forums converge together on a notable case, doing all the digging that they can to find out potential suspects, hyper-analyzing evidence, or learning key details about the unfolding case. Think detective, but without the degree, experience, badge, or jurisdiction.

These internet sleuths can be good and bad to an unfolding story. In some cases, they have proved to be a useful tool to law enforcement investigating the case by helping them uncover more information. But, for most cases these internet sleuths spread false information, make assumptions that slowly become reality, and are quick to jump to conclusions that can be really damaging to a case. These sleuths can even be dangerous to the family of the victims, or families of the suspects, because in the true crime world, it’s guilty until proven innocent.

While it isn’t bad that these documentaries, podcasts, or forums may focus on the side of the victim, they can stray too far to the extent of wanting to find the person who committed the act, and they want to find them fast. So, they will be quick to accuse, take circumstantial evidence as truth, and more.

As well, the most damaging price that comes with the true crime fascination is that major dehumanization of the victim, suspect, and possibly investigators involved, occurs. These people go from victims to characters in a story, for our entertainment. And the families that are still grieving from the loss of their family member? In some cases, left to gain unwanted popularity and fame as a result of their loved ones passing.

Our Mental Health

One final thing that many of us may not think about as well is how true crime has come to affect us. Our fascinations can be dangerous, as the Cleveland Clinic reports that “Shows that focus on murder and rape can really take you to a bad place.”

But we don’t need to just boycott the true crime genre. Instead, we need to be more self aware about our consumption, and more conscious about how it affects us.

As the Cleveland Clinic goes on to say, signs that you are in need of a break include if you feel anxious, scared, or unsafe all the time, or if you are wary of others. True crime can be so pervasive into our everyday lives and affect how we go about our daily interactions and leave us double checking locks, shining lights out windows, essentially paranoid.

So if you are experiencing these types of effects from consuming true crime, you are most definitely in need of a break.

You can find the rest of the Cleveland Clinic’s article here.

In closing, pay attention to your consumption, and how you are contributing to a case in true crime. There are damaging effects to the people involved, there are damaging effects to your mental health, and it’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of true crime.



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