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How Social Media Changed ‘The Bachelor’ for Better – and Worse

”When I don’t post a photo with Ben, people assume we broke up,“ former contestant Lauren Bushnell tells TheWrap

There will always be people who don’t believe in the process of “The Bachelor” and will call it fake and scripted, but has social media helped turn haters into believers?

“Social media has been a great way to connect with fans and share what life looks like after ‘The Bachelor,'” former contestant Lauren Bushnell, who received the final rose from Ben Higgins and is still engaged to him, told TheWrap. “I definitely think social media humanizes things a lot more. When you get a glimpse into a contestant’s personal life, I think it’s easier to see who they really are than when watching on TV.”

Reality Steve — who gets exclusive insight into the show because he has been a follower of the franchise for years and knows most people who have been part of the process — agrees.

“It certainly has played a huge role,” he told TheWrap. “When social media first came out, these contestants weren’t allowed to go on it. Now the show can’t police that, and the second they come home, these people are hopping back on social media.”

But while social media gives an insight into the contestant’s lives after the show and may give fans hope that the process actually works, there are also some drawbacks that come with the new technology.

“It has changed the show for the good and the bad,” Steve added. “The good is the fact that after the show is over, you can follow their stories because they are always posting pictures — whether it’s  a staged photoshoot or whatever, you have an idea of what’s going on. The negative: Everybody comments, and not everyone has positive comments.”

“The criticism can be a lot to handle,” Bushnell echoed. “At first, I would be really down about it but now I’ve developed a much thicker skin. I think when you do put yourself out there a little more some people think they then have the right to say really nasty things/state their opinion. I’m open to all opinions as long as people are respectful.”

Bushnell drew a lot of criticism when she went to Mexico with her family and wasn’t wearing her ring. Her followers immediately thought the worst — that she and Higgins had broken up. But she has a message for her social media trolls: She wants to keep some of her personal life private.

“I feel like when I don’t post a photo with Ben, people assume we broke up,” she said. “But with that said, my life includes me as a fiancee and as an individual. I don’t just want to be known as Ben’s fiancee. I also tend to keep my relationship a little more private as I’ve learned some lessons from ‘The Bachelor’ and ‘Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After.’ There was so much criticism out there and it became exhausting. I am naturally a more private person and I think that still applies to my relationship, believe it or not.”

However, Reality Steve says that social media adds a lot of pressure for contestants to be hyperactive online and keep their fans up to date.

“When you stop posting or do stuff like Lauren does, it draws suspicion,” he said, speaking also about Amanda Stanton and Josh Murray, who got engaged after “Bachelor in Paradise” but one day stopped posting pictures together. This prompted many fans to think they broke up — which, ultimately, was true.

“I don’t envy these couples because they have to put something out there — if not, something is wrong. It’s like, ‘we shared our love story with you during the show so we have to do it after.’ But if things aren’t going well, there’s a fine line they have to walk. It’s either all or nothing,” Steve continued. “Most of the couples feel they owe it to their fans to update them on what’s going on with their lives but it’s also kind of a bit of a drawback in that we’re only seeing what they want us to see. They are not going to post a picture in the middle of an argument. These people are delusional to think that what they are seeing on Instagram is their actual life — it’s just the life they want you to see.”

Lastly, Bushnell reveals another drawback to social media’s influence on “The Bachelor” franchise.

“I also think casting has it’s work cut out now that social media can be profitable,” she added. “I didn’t even realize that before going on the show, however, now that companies are using influencers to market their products more and more I would imagine you have more and more people applying to be on the show ‘for the wrong reasons.'”