If the news doing the rounds this week about the cancellation of ITV chat show Jeremy Kyle has taught me anything, it’s that we really ought to start being a bit kinder to one another.
I’m not going to lie and say I’ve never watched it because that would be untrue. Like many people I’ve watched the occasional episode. I’ve never set out to watch it but if I found myself channel-hopping during some ads and accidentally landed on it, it wasn’t uncommon for me to give the show two minutes of my attention and then that was it, I’d be hooked. Who is the father of the baby? Did she really cheat with her boyfriend’s mum? Will he agree to getting help for his drug problems?
The answer to all these questions really should always be ‘who really cares, it’s got nothing to do with me’ and yet for some reason, in that moment I simply had to know the answer. It was easy to forget you were watching real people and instead treat their lives with the low level of respect usually reserved for a pantomime baddy. I guess there is something in it that makes you feel better about your own life, no matter what was going on, because at least it wasn’t bad enough for you to end up on there airing your dirty laundry to the nation.
It’s a really ugly trait though, to take an element of joy and satisfaction from looking down on people and from judging their worst moments. I, for one, am glad the programme is over as the less negative nonsense I have in my life and the more appreciation I have for those around the better. Two things in particular have really brought that home this week for me.
On a light note I’ve become a bit obsessed with a new Netflix show called Tiny House Nation, where two guys help people downsize dramatically by custom building them a tiny house, which is basically a trailer house filled with mod-cons. I’ve found it really interesting to learn about people’s inspirations for wanting to live somewhere so small in a time where we’re all led to believe that bigger is better. Whether the episodes have featured families with young kids, couples or retirees the message from all of the people featured is simple – they want out of the rat race. They don’t want a mortgage, they don’t want to keep buying unnecessary stuff and they want to focus on what is important – relationships and experiences. I’m not sure I have the ability to go tiny, I have too many shoes for starters, but it has made me think about where my own priorities lay.
The other thing that has made me think a lot this week is that, sadly, a close friend of mine has been given some devastating health news that has rocked her world as well as the worlds of all those connected to her. It has made me realise how short life really is and how we should make the most of it. And as much of a place as TV can have in opening our minds and allowing us to learn about things, or even allowing us downtime to switch our brains off, no one’s gravestone is going to be adorned with “I wish I saw more episodes of Jezza”.
It’s a cliché but it’s true, none of us know how long we have left and this week has made me realise that I should be making the most out of what I have. I am lucky that I have my health, a family that I adore, a new addition on the way and a roof over my head. My favourite thing about our house is that even though it looks tiny from the outside it’s actually pretty spacious - making it a great house to have friends to stay and yet that is something that we don’t do often enough.
I want to change my focus, spend more quality time with my nearest and dearest and put effort into making new and maintaining old connections with friends. I’m as shocked as anyone that it’s Jeremy Kyle that has made me realise this.