When we embarked on the totally insane endeavour to marry a stranger, all of us opened ourselves up to the full scrutiny of the British public and beyond (oh hi, internet!). Whilst we were aware that the show would be filmed and broadcast to the nation at prime time, it transpired there was a large gap between knowing, and fully understanding how that might feel. And the result was that even if you made it through the edit unscathed (and it might be worth a note here, that none of us did…) there was still a plethora of faceless entities queuing up to furiously type out vitriol, and only too eager to press send.
Some of us survived the edit better than others; Adam, for instance, made it through with only a spattering of discontent. I, however, didn’t. And whether this was a perfect storm of (more than) half of my deadpan jokes hitting the cutting room floor, leaving me woefully out of context, coupled with the stresses of filming… Or whether I am just a moany cow, Twitter was full of hatred and malice. And the irony wasn’t lost on me that I was being lambasted for being ‘mean’ to my husband via comments calling me the most offensive word in the English language, and even hoping I was found face down in a river.
Sitting on the living room floor, watching the final episode of Married at First Sight air, the Twitter feed scrolled on and on; under the show’s hashtag an entire spectrum of reactions unfolded before our eyes. We were all well aware that not every member of the British public would like us; some would disagree with us, take offence at our facial features, or simply find the pitch of our voice annoying. However, it’s the speed and tenacity of the negative reactions, which even after all this time, continue to shock.
We’re told to ignore the negative comments. To pay no heed to the trolls. But rather, shouldn’t we be encouraging people to not post this content to start with? To encourage them to think before they hit send? For just a split second, to be kind?
In the last few years, the notion of kindness is becoming more in vogue. A gargantuan trailblazer being Lauren Paul’s Kind Campaign, discovered through the wonders of Instagram. Starting from a celebrity stalk of the perfect couple (if you haven’t seen Aaron and Lauren repping it for lovebirds everywhere, then take a look), I soon became aware of the non-profit initiative to drive out girl on girl bullying in schools. It seems too perfect, the cool kids telling you to be kind to one another. The beautiful girls who perpetuate the unrealistic goal of the thigh gap and I woke up like this. Newsflash, Lauren, it’s harder to be kind when you did not wake up like that and you’re more thigh slap than gap. Right?
Because even if she seems too perfect, she’s bang on the money. It really is cool to be kind, and it’s sorely needed.
Through the Twitter whirlwind of the final few episodes airing something became clear. Mostly, if you held people accountable for their comments, they tended to recant them. My fellow ginger and I fired back tweets to the less than pleasant tweeters, full of tongue in cheek humour, playfully calling them out on their comments. And on more than one occasion, those on the other end admitted that they had forgotten that we’re real people, who may actually read the judgements that have been passed on every aspect of our perceived characters. And the exchanges softened.
If this process has taught me anything (and I can assure you it’s taught me many things), it’s that I can always be more thoughtful, and less quick to pass judgement. Seeing how I was portrayed on TV, and knowing the reasons behind certain exchanges… knowing that the final edit wasn’t the full story, has made me so much more aware of the opinions I’m forming, and not jump to a snap judgement.
Sometimes we all need a little reminder that we’re not so different from each other, and that we’re all deserving of kindness.