Reactions to Michelle Duggar’s Miscarriage Show Reality TV Has Made Us Cruel

"I just can't feel bad about this. It's about time." "Time to her to stop popping them out and take care of the kids she has." "If she hadn't been trying to get into the Guinness World Records for having the most babies, she wouldn't have to be 'suffering' this loss. "God bless anything up in the sky that prevented this idiot from spawning another moron on this planet."

That's just a tiny selection of the comments I've seen online in response to Michelle Duggar's miscarriage—not to mention the seemingly endless Twitter jokes that inevitably take the tiresome approach of comparing Michelle's vagina to a clown car.

It truly makes me marvel at how heartless we've become as a society, when both pregnancy and death trigger outpourings of criticism and ridicule instead of congratulations and sympathy. But I also wonder if, in some way, reality television is changing the way we view devastating life events. If we're becoming desensitized … and as a result, cruel.


Whether it's addiction, mental illness, murder, suicide, or a catastrophic diagnosis of some kind, nothing makes good TV like a personal crisis. After Russell Armstrong of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills hung himself this summer, everyone began talking about that show, whether or not they'd ever seen it. Thousands of armchair critics instantly turned their attention to this man's death and picked apart his life in the process. Suddenly, suicide became public entertainment.

It seems undeniable that people are often affected by their experience of being on a reality show, and not usually in a good way. But the bigger issue may be whether or not viewers are affected by the experience of watching.

These days, we happily tune in while the cameras capture people's most private dramas. Unstable teen moms, Jersey partiers who seem to perennially hover on the verge of incarceration or alcohol poisoning, rehabbing addicts, families in the midst of divorce. Do we even view these stars as real people? Do we believe that the things that happen to them are really happening—or have we started to blur the lines between reality and fiction?

I suspect we often treat these people like characters because that's how they're presented to us. They seem larger than life. Scripted.

I can only believe that the Duggars have made their peace with this lifestyle—that they somehow find more positive than negative from it—but I can't imagine how it must feel now that their family's loss is playing out before such an enormous, uncaring audience.

There's something about reality fame that has led us to a situation where a woman's miscarriage is being publicly mocked, and I hope that if anything useful comes of this, it's that would-be TV stars rethink their decision to offer their life up to the cameras. I don't think this form of entertainment is doing any of us any good.

What do you think about the reaction to Michelle Duggar's miscarriage?

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