Our Obsession with Other People’s Drama

An honest exploration into why Thai people partake in gossip and the cable news channels’ capitalistic way of thinking which makes them morally corrupt.

Drama is when two people argue about a certain topic using their personal belief, perspective, and understanding of that subject as the basis of their debate, and often disregarding facts – it is a verbal fight against an opponent. Logic and reason do not exist within drama; it is derived purely from emotion. Nothing, no knowledge, is gained from drama as it is merely a form of entertainment. Because drama and non-constructive conflict seems to be a big part of the daily lives of those who speak my mother tongue, it is crucial for me to discover the root of the reason why Thai people are so obsessed with drama.

The average Thai person works 14 hours more every week compared to the global average of 36 hours (BLT Bangkok). Dramas, as realistic as they may sound, only portray one side of a truth – and an exaggerated one, might I add. The more scandalous the dramas are, most evidently seen today in the online world, the more interesting we find them. The more drama you consume, the more it stimulates curiosity about that particular story until it turns into an addiction, resulting in the constant exchange of personal opinions.

The uprising in media accessibility has reconstructed the meaning of drama in the modern age. In today’s digitally-interconnected world, news spreads to those in all corners of the globe, much like how small waves ripple outward after a pebble makes contact with water. There are certain news we might personally connect with, and so makes us feel angry, sad, and irritated; we become emotionally engaged with those news.

So, despite the irony, Thai people are likely drawn to drama as a result of stress from work (a plausible explanation when considering the nation-wide longer-than-average working hours), or school. Drama allows people to be taken out of their distressing real-life situations and temporarily live in their heads, gaining pleasure from engaging in other people’s misery. However, their extreme emotions accumulate and turn into an addiction, fostering a culture of people that are easily irritated and hostile.

This is why news in Thailand should instead be called drama: no different from soap operas.

Following the disappearance of the Thai actress Tangmo, or Nida Patcharaveerapong, who was later presumed to have allegedly been murdered – I do not know whether the case is still an ongoing investigation or if has been concluded or what has been concluded of it, because we are not here to theorize about the case, that is not the point here – every front page of every newspaper and every airing minute of every cable news channel covered her story for weeks on end. But, with all due respect, it was nothing short of obsessive and excessive. Surely there were other, more pressing, stories to cover? So, why then did news channels cover the same things with the same headlines over and over again?

The answer lies within consumer preference: capitalism at its finest. The viewers devoured Tangmo’s case, and analyzed every minor little detail they got a hold of from news reports, no doubt exponentially increasing viewership for cable news networks. Reporters dramatized the information not because it helped to inform the truth, but because it kept the viewers engaged. Viewers followed the story and its developments not to stay informed, but because the suffering and penalization of others acted as the perfect escape from their lives.

So, clear as day, we now see that our society has been built upon drama. And revolving around it, making worse the issue, is the media and news we consume. It is in our blood to criticize and scrutinize over the decisions others make and the eff-ups they experience.

It is by far the worst trait Thai people collectively have.

Works Cited

BLT Bangkok. “คนไทยมีชั่วโมงงานเกินมาตรฐานโลก หลายชาติเล็งลดวันทำงานลง.” BLT Bangkok, 11 Feb. 2020, http://www.bltbangkok.com/news/4550/. 

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