There’s something immensely intriguing about true crime stories. What really happened to JonBenét Ramsay? Where is Madeline McCann? And what was that obsession with binge-listening to murder podcasts at your desk in late 2014? (And always, if you’ve moved beyond Serial.)
But why are we so interested in the tragedies of others? Why do we hypothesise and create all these theories? Are we actually just bat shit crazy/morbid AF? We asked psychologist Meredith Fuller because at this stage we’re questioning our sanity, too.
Part of the reason that texts – books, television, film, art – please us is that they appeal to our universal sense of human nature. We can explore other parts of our personality that we might not openly embrace but can acknowledge are there.
Fuller explains that if all we ever consume in a textual form is true crime and we won’t watch anything else, then it can skew our moral sense.
“It upsets the balance of giving you an insight into evil. It’s like that argument that it’s not good for young people to watch a lot of violence because it can encourage an inner violence within them.” (2020)
But, let’s be honest. Even if you do think you’re going OTT, you’re probably not going to stop the Netflix auto-roll on Making a Murderer anytime soon. But it’s always good to break things up with a Friends re-run now and again… or, you know, a book.