Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Your Relationship With Tabloids: Is It Purely Harmless Fun?

In the waiting room of my private practice, we have many magazines displayed for clients to read while they wait. Pharmaceutical companies send almost every magazine you can imagine with their name printed somewhere, so we don't even have to order the magazines. The other day, I greeted a client of mine in the waiting room and found him reading a magazine that I am guilty of having in my office. The magazine was one of the tabloids that I won't mention specifically, but I bet it's one of the most frequently read magazines in that waiting room.

I'm sure you've heard enough people talk about the harmful effects of tabloids and America's obsession with them, so I won't bore you by going through the laundry list of their harmful effects. I can tell you, however, about what caused my reaction when I found my client reading one of them in my office.

I thought about something a gifted mentor of mine in New York said years ago: "Every time you idealize someone else, you devalue yourself." He explained that you can't do one without the other. The main question I have for people who read the tabloids is: Why would you want to read about someone else's life when they aren't reading about you? After all, your life is just as interesting, right?

I don't read the tabloids because they idealize external characteristics (money, fame, etc.) and suggest that these characteristics actually fulfill people and make them happy. Maybe so many celebrities wouldn't need to check into Betty Ford if this were true. I don't like the tabloids because they try to sell you this silly, simplistic story that you should be interested in people whom you don't know the first thing about. As a result, I have either no relationship or a bad one with the tabloids!

If you are someone who likes to read the tabloids and purchases them on a fairly regular basis, I hope that you consider what the clinician said that I mentioned earlier. You don't need to be famous or wealthy to have a perfectly interesting life, and I don't think you ever need to put yourself in a position in which you devalue yourself.

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