Many people do not realize that television shapes our perceptions of ourselves and effects our self image drastically. People of all age groups see their demographic represented on television and unconsciously begin comparing themselves to the characters and figures they see on TV. People are only able to separate entertainment from reality to a certain degree, but emotionally, people tend to react to what they see on TV as if it were real. This works through a psychological process that television producers and creators are aware of.
Creators of television shows and commercials deliberately create prototypical images of people through characters and representations. These portrayals of people are more attractive, more well spoken and lead more interesting lives than the average person. Television audiences are aware of this frame of TV marketing to a certain degree, but psychologically, they are still affected by observing portrayals of people who lead prettier, more interesting lives than themselves.
People process these portrayals by comparing themselves to the characters they see on TV. Television shows and commercials give people the notion that somehow they are not up to par because they do not look, talk or act like the characters they enjoy on TV. They become wistful and longing to be more impressive so that their lives can resemble that of a TV character.
This way of thinking leads to self image problems. People become dissatisfied with their lives and live in a constant state of self criticism when they are always comparing themselves to TV characters. They become anxious at the thought that their lives will never be as impressive as the characters they see on TV and develop a very negative way of thinking about themselves. For the sake of good mental health, this trend needs to be reversed. Many social scientists believe that media literacy is the answer. This means people as a whole need to become more practiced at digesting their TV diet with an appropriate amount of criticism.