I used to love Love Island. I remember discovering it at season two, and binge-watched the whole of series one just so that I was caught up on all of the gossip and the drama.
I understand why people love the show — it’s a distraction from real life. Beautiful people lining up opposite other beautiful people to pick and choose who they fancy the most. We sit and stare at our screens as the drama unfolds each night at 9pm, an escape from the realities we are living.
Especially during the pandemic, Love Island is a reminder of what life was like before the devastation; it brings some normality back. It’s something that the nation has grown used to — influencers in the making getting ready for their brand deals and their very own clothing lines.
But I’m boycotting Love Island this year — and every year afterwards. And here’s why.
In 2020, Caroline Flack tragically died by suicide. Before her death, the internet had been filled with hatred and trolling, but afterwards, everyone was preaching to ‘be kind’ in her memory.
But when Love Island is on, people forget to be kind. I have already seen countless comments on social media sites like Twitter, commenting on the Islanders’ looks, mannerisms, relationships, and attitudes. Of course, the dealbreaker is that if people are going to put themselves on a show like this, they should expect criticism — but when does criticism turn into cyberbullying?
Every year since Caroline’s death, when Love Island comes on, we are reminded of the Be Kind movement; but it seems that the message is lost as soon as the ‘previously on’ introduction comes on. Suddenly the Islanders are there to comment personally on. And I just can’t get behind it.
Of course, this is a small section of the internet, but it’s still there, online, for the Islanders to read as soon as they’re off-screen and leave their luxurious villa to re-enter the real world. And let’s face it, many Islanders are probably going to name-search themselves to see what has been said about them.
There has also been speculation as to how well the Islanders are assessed when it comes to their mental health, and whether they’re mentally healthy enough to take on the challenge to win the show. This has recently come into question when some Islanders got incredibly upset when the show revealed what had been said about them online. People are also questioning the mental health of the Islanders when it comes to how immediately invested some Islanders become in their relationships with other Islanders in just days.
It’s not just this — but how we see Love Islanders react to other people entering the show. They compare themselves and immediately feel threatened and self-conscious when new beautiful people walk into the villa. It’s not healthy to feel that way towards people you barely know.
It raises questions as to whether the show is picking up vulnerable people who struggle with insecurities and how they feel about themselves. And is this right to be on national TV when you aren’t confident in yourself, and when you can’t realise when people are treating you badly?
I get it. Love Island has become almost a ritualistic watch; the same stuff going down every year, but we just can’t get enough of it. But ultimately, this always leads to cruel comments, laughs at peoples’ expense, and in worst cases, abuse.
And this is why I’m cutting the show out of my life from now on. Not because I don’t enjoy the drama, the onscreen relationships, or the beautiful people — but because I don’t want to become absorbed in the lives of people who are potentially not well in themselves.
When Caroline Flack died, we preached Be Kind constantly — it was everywhere. But it seems that every year Love Island comes on, people forget how to do that. It’s a vicious cycle of simple meanness.
I’m not criticising anyone who watches and loves the show. I do, too. But for me, it’s time to turn over my TV when the Love Island theme comes on each evening.