If you’re like most people, you’ve probably been sucked into the true crime obsession vortex at some point or another. Whether it’s watching hours of Investigation Discovery or scrolling through your Facebook feed to see who’s talking about the latest murder trial, we can’t seem to get enough of true crime stories. But why? What is it about these tales of tragedy and suspense that are so entranced?
Some say it’s our desensitization to violence, thanks to the media. Others argue that it’s our need for drama and entertainment that has us glued to these stories. Whatever the reason, one thing is clear: the true-crime obsessed wave isn’t stopping anytime soon.
What Is True Crime?
True crime is a nonfiction genre that includes books, movies, TV shows, and podcasts that explore real-life crimes. These true stories can be anything from cold cases to famous murders, like the ones committed by Ted Bundy or Jack the Ripper. Oftentimes, true crime stories focus on the criminal mind and what drove them to commit such heinous acts.
Why Are We So Interested in Crime Stories?
There are more than a dozen Netflix specials featuring crime documentaries, true crime stories, and the criminal mind. Witness how popular “Making of a Murder” was several years ago. And what about ‘The Sopranos,’ or the decades-long Law & Order franchise? This is not an unprecedented interest. In the 1950s, some of the most popular shows on television concerning crime and punishment, such as Perry Mason or Columbo.
By 2006, the Amazon website sold over 1,400 books about murder and crime. Today, that number has quadrupled. There are true-crime podcasts, including the very popular Serial, My Favorite Murder, and Sword and Scale. And true crime is one of the most popular genres on Netflix. So why this sudden obsession with true crime?
Some experts believe that our current fascination with true crime stories is nothing short of suspicious. Perhaps it’s our desensitization through media that has increased our appetite for violence—and our ability to consume it without our stomachs churning. Or, maybe it’s the advent of reality television and social media that has made us increasingly eager to treat intimate details of real people’s lives like our favorite soap opera.
Desensitization to Violence
One theory is that we’ve become desensitized to violence, thanks to the media. With 24-hour news cycles and social media, we’re constantly bombarded with images and stories of violence. This constant exposure has led us to become more accepting of violence as a norm.
As disturbing as this theory is, it does make sense. Studies have shown that repeated exposure to violent images can lead to desensitization. In one study, participants were exposed to either violent or non-violent images. Those who were exposed to the violent images showed less physiological arousal and reported feeling less empathy for victims of violence than those who saw the non-violent images.
So, it’s possible that our true crime obsession is simply a result of our desensitization to violence. We’ve become so used to seeing violence in the media that it no longer has the same effect on us. We can consume it without feeling any empathy for the victims or remorse for the perpetrators.
Of course, this isn’t the only theory out there. Another popular explanation is that we’re simply fascinated by real-life crime stories because they’re so much more exciting than our own lives. After all, true crime stories usually have all the elements of a good drama: suspense, mystery, betrayal, and even romance. In a way, they’re like our favorite soap operas, except with real people and real stakes.
11 Reasons We Love True Crime Stories
We are constantly bombarded with news, books, podcasts, and shows about true crime. Popular true crime podcasts like Serial, Criminal, Up and Vanished, Crime Junkie, and Dr. Death have millions of listeners. And true crime Netflix shows like Making a Murderer, The Jinx, and The Staircase are must-watch TV for many people. But why are we so obsessed with true crime? Here are some possible explanations:
1. Help Us Feel Prepared for the Worst
In a world that often feels out of our control, true crime stories allow us to make sense of the chaos. They give us a false sense of control by teaching us about the “right” and “wrong” ways to act in dangerous situations.
2. We’re Fascinated By Evil
Many true crime stories focus on murderers, rapists, and other criminals who commit unthinkable crimes. We’re both repelled and fascinated by their evil deeds. We want to understand how they could do something so horrific and what motivates them to act.
3. True Crime is Suspenseful
Just like a good mystery novel or thriller movie, true crime stories can be very suspenseful. They keep us glued to our seats as we try to piece together the clues and figure out “whodunnit.”
4. We Sympathize With Victims
Most true crime stories focus on the victims of crimes. We feel their pain, suffering, and fear. We want justice for them, and we hope that their story will help prevent others from going through the same thing.
5. We’re Morbidly Curious
Let’s face it; we’re all a little bit morbidly curious. We want to see crime scenes photos and hear gory details about how someone was killed. We’re fascinated by death, even though we know we shouldn’t be.
True crime stories are often tragic, but they can also be inspiring tales of survival against all odds. They make us question our own mortality and remind us that life is fragile.
6. We’re Empathizing With the Victims
When we hear about a crime, our first instinct is often to put ourselves in the victim’s shoes. We imagine what it would be like to be in their situation and how we would feel if we were them. This empathy is what drives us to want justice for the victims.
7. We Enjoy Feeling Scared
There’s a reason why horror movies are so popular. We enjoy feeling scared in a safe way. True crime stories provide us with that same thrill. We know that we’re not in danger, but we still get a rush from hearing about dangerous situations.
8. We’re Glad We’re Not The Victim
When we hear about a crime, we’re often relieved that it wasn’t us who was the victim. We count our blessings and are thankful that we weren’t in the wrong place at the wrong time.
9. We Want to Understand Why
True crime stories often don’t have a clear motive. This can leave us feeling unsettled and wanting to understand why the crime was committed. We want to make sense of something that seems so senseless.
Understanding why might help us feel safer in the world and less like anyone could be a potential murderer.
10. We Can Learn From True Crime Stories
By understanding why some crimes are committed, we can learn how to prevent them from happening in the future. For example, if we know that most murders are committed by someone the victim knows, we can be more careful about who we let into our lives.
11. We’re Fascinated By the Unfathomable
Some true crime stories are just so unbelievable that we can’t help but be fascinated by them. We want to know every gory detail and try to understand what would drive a person to do something so horrendous.
So why are we so obsessed with true crime? No one really knows for sure. It could be a combination of things. Part of the reason true crime is so popular right now is that it’s easy to access. We can read articles, listen to podcasts, and watch documentaries from the comfort of our own homes.
But another part of the reason true crime is so prevalent is that it’s a way for us to confront the darkness in the world while still feeling safe.
Whatever the reason may be, true crime doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. So, the best we can do is try to understand why it captivates us so much and enjoy the stories for what they are—entertaining tales of human nature at its worst (and best).
What do you think? Why are YOU obsessed with true crime? Let us know!