Americans seem to have an obsession, and it has been growing over the past couple of decades. If you look at the popular podcasts or television shows, you’ll know what we love: true crime. Docuseries continuously top the streaming charts, and each week we seem to get a new podcast centered around murder and deceit. Yet we can’t seem to get enough.
These shows are engaging, but something about the obsession seems really messed up. We’re engaged in stories that cost people their lives and forever changes the lives of family and friends. Any logical person would want to avoid these experiences, but listening to other people’s horror stories is a captivating form of entertainment.
True crime is so popular that it’s hard to apply labels to everyone in the fan base. If you’re like me and you’ve consumed a lot of programs in the genre, you’ve likely questioned your sanity at some point. You’re watching trauma for pleasure and seeking the most extreme people in society. The fact that this can serve as a form of entertainment seems like an abnormal response; at the very least you’re desensitized.
Is true crime really a harmless obsession? Outsiders don’t seem to get the hype and associate the genre with less desirable character traits. Much like the fascination with true crime, there’s also a fascination with its audience. This has given us research to confirm or deny some of the common assumptions.
You Lack Emotion
The more people study true crime, the less surprising the cases become. A simple murder isn’t enough; they want longer stories and bigger villains. In the pursuit of the next great crime story, the victims and families are viewed as characters. There’s a lack of sympathy for those impacted, and hearing a crime story has no lasting emotional connection to the listener.
There is some truth to this. Experts warn that individuals who are chasing more intense stories may be in a position where their emotional state is being hurt by true crime consumption. That doesn’t mean you should be living life in fear, but it does mean you should recognize the wrongdoings in true crime cases.