Many of us have indulged in the gossip, the drama, the lifestyle of Love Island in the last few years. We all have our own reasons for it too: an escape from reality, ‘guilt-free’ gossip about people we will never actually meet, and then when a couple actually hit it off (I’m thinking Dani and Jack), we see that spark: something real and beautiful! The Love Islanders seem to have such an idyllic life: bathing their beach-ready bods in the Mediterranean Sun, food and drinks on tap, and living with dozens of potential love interests. All this together with the latest phones and fashion items: what more could you want?

 As the old saying goes: if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. In the last year, it has emerged how the Love Island life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Every moment is choreographed by producers: every conversation, every cheeky glance across the fire pit, every bit of drama: it’s all staged. Then you have 70 cameras following your every movement, 24-hours a day, 7-days a week: there is no such thing as privacy on Love Island. Even food and drink are regulated, to stop contestants over-indulging: so much for being on your holidays…

 The problem with this is that the Love Island lifestyle is presented as real, it’s presented as a life that is desirable, that we should aim for. It’s a real-time social media, which only shows us a selective view of the lives of these people we come to, in a way, idolise.

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The desirable life presented to us by modern culture, by shows like Love Island, does not exist! It’s a scam! In this engineered view of life, drawn up by show producers and companies searching for profit, we are told that the lifestyle of having the perfect face and body, the fashionable clothes and latest phones, all in this sun-bathed villa with its pool and cocktails and luxury accommodation, is the way to happiness in our lives.

 When people buy into this lie, they end up simply getting used by this lifestyle: they are treated like a commodity, not a person. Those in the industry encourage them to turn their lives into one big effort to influence others to follow them: they have to advertise their lives and products on their social media, make appearances in certain bars and clubs for money, pretend they’re having a great time. They get consumed by it, their lives become one big advert.

 When people have placed all their bets on this, chased this ‘perfect’ lifestyle of swimsuit-bodies, the latest phones and cars, the ‘perfect’ social groups and events: they are only left wanting more. Tragically, when people realise there is no more: that this lifestyle is actually empty of any meaning and true happiness, it can crush them. In the last few months, 2 former Love Island contestants have committed suicide.

 St Clare of Assisi said:

“We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. If we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing, we become nothing.”

 Maybe we can extend this thought into a modern context: if we love gossip, we become gossip; if we love what is fashionable, we become what is fashionable (and, ultimately, what is thrown away); if we love what does not exist, we cease to exist ourselves.

 We are not made for this! We are not made for this phony love that pretends to be in a villa in Mallorca for 2 months a year. We are made for true love, real love, love that sets our hearts on fire! There was a reason we all loved Dani and Jack last year, because we caught a glimpse of something real in them. Something not based on drama, or sex, or fake personalities, but something real and true.

 The issue with calling a show like this ‘Love Island’, is that every person in there is there to have a good time themselves, to further their social media presence, to have the swanky lifestyle. But that’s not what love is about. True love is about completely giving ourselves to the other person. It’s about sacrifices, about willing the good of the other: with no regard for yourself. That is love, if we put that at the centre of our lives, we will never be left wanting more.

 In St John’s letter to the Early Church, he commands the people:

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:7-12)

What to do?

We’ve got to wrestle ourselves away from this culture, of Love Island and social media influencers. We’re not doing ourselves any favours, and we’re not doing favours for others who may follow our lead: younger siblings, friends, children. Our watching Love Island, our following of social media personalities, implies to others that we think it is ok. It gives the producers and companies who profit from this massive lie the ratings and profits that tell them to keep going. It feeds this industry that deprives people of their dignity and true beauty as human beings, instead turning them into advertisement mannequins. By not indulging in the ‘other reality’ of shows like Love Island, we deprive this industry of the oxygen it needs to survive.

 Be an example for others! Don’t settle for this phony ‘love’. Bring true love into people’s lives, let them see it and experience it, so that they can tell the difference between true love and the lie of our modern culture.

 Be the change you want to see in the world! And that can start with something as simple as not watching a certain TV show over the next few weeks. Pretty simple, right?