C/O Jessica Tan, Unsplash
Generation Z has become enchanted by true crime stories — but why?
cw: murder, death, violence, crime
Since I could remember, I have always loved scary, gruesome things. I was six years old watching Halloween with my Dad on the couch with smiles staying up past my bedtime to see which true crime case would be talked about on 60 Minutes.
I loved it. I loved the rush, the mystery and also being able to tell who murdered who and why. Almost as if it was a game of Clue. I have always wondered why I’ve become immune to learning about such gruesome events on television.
Once TikTok started to become more popular, so did true crime. Many creators would speak about true crime stories which tugged at the bored minds of Tiktok’s generation Z audience. I have noticed a huge spike in true crime as a whole, with many true crime creators on YouTube skyrocketing, such as Bailey Sarian, Kendall Rae and Hailey Elizabeth.
Another interesting aspect that I’ve noticed about these true crime Youtubers is their ability to tell these stories in a lighthearted way. For example, they’re often told while the Youtuber does their makeup or even eats food.
That’s when the realization really hit me. How can we watch and listen to such gruesome stories all the time? How are the storytellers able to do their makeup alongside, as if it’s a normal conversation with a friend?
In fact, there’s a psychological explanation for why many of us may enjoy true crime stories.
For one, it’s the notion that it’s not us in that situation. We are grateful we are not the victim or even the murderer. We watch in awe of the story, feel sympathy for the victim and experience disgust and confusion for the murderer and their motivations.
Everytime I hear a true crime story I think to myself, “How could someone even do such a thing?”
And even though it may be selfish, we do experience relief that it is not us. It’s the same notion as when you’re driving on the highway and you see a crash; you slow down to take a glimpse of what took place, you sigh in relief and keep moving. Although it may not sit well with you, for some reason you just can’t look away.
As members of generation Z, we have grown up with an abundance of readily available information, some of which we may not have wanted or intended to see, given the lack of regulation of what’s visible in the media.
Another reason is people want to be more prepared. You actually take a lot away from true crime stories, from how the murders think to how the legal system works. This gives individuals a sense of preparedness so that if something like this ever happens to them, they may have some insight on what to do and what not to do.
Overall, true crime stories are very interesting and I can attest to my obsession with watching hundreds of different podcasts, YouTube videos or news stories on it. Despite this, it is also important that we do not dehumanise nor make light of what occurred.