Even in the adult world we are perpetually given examples of how to behave and reminders of how not to behave. The Jeremy Kyle Show - at one end of the scale - acts as a morality tale, which viewers can smugly laugh at as they absorb repeatedly reinforced messages about what constitutes 'good' and 'bad' behaviour'. Viewers are not to emulate it unless they want to find themselves on daytime TV, being mocked by smug, judgemental people - people like themselves.
At the other end of the scale there is Made in Chelsea. The scenarios played out are just as sordid as those discussed on Kyle, but the participants are posh with expensive clothes and homes. Instead of being explosively played out in bitter encounters on a creaky studio stage, the insular Made in Chelsea crowd play out their screw-ups in expensive bars and restaurants. Aspirational viewers wishing to emulate the MIC lot are given information about each PR-hungry venue before each rather wooden public bust-up.
There is often such a delay between each person speaking in MIC arguments that viewers could be forgiven for assuming that producers tell the characters what to say. Or it might be that the glowering participants are actually thinking hard - if slowly - about how to respond.
If that is the case, then how nice that the elite of West London are showing the rest of us how to be as sordid as we like, while maintaining the semblance of courtesy at all times. And if that courtesy slips enough to have sex with a friend's partner, throw a £20 glass of mineral water into someone's face or stab our mate in the back, we would at least know we've done it with eloquence, worn the right shoes and used the correct knife.
Given that we are all subjected to this mass media interpersonal modelling - to try to make us more like profligate MIC drones and less like Kyle guests - it is extremely disappointing that the 'No' campaign's approach to discouraging Scottish independence is akin to an abusive bully threatening a fleeing partner.
Thus far the 'No' campaign has been rather more Jeremy Kyle than Made in Chelsea. It has been so shamelessly threatening that at times I have wondered if it is part of a covert plot to drive Scotland away. As we have got closer to the September vote, the arguments against independence have got more desperate and apocalyptic.
Threats so far have included not letting Scotland keep the pound, suggesting that Scotland won't be able to manage its oil and gas resources effectively (which is a bit like a robber justifying his crime by saying he is better at looking after the loot) and jobs would be lost as companies move from Scotland. These threats are reminiscent of those heard by people trying to split from an abusive partner. They are akin to the classic: "But we are so good together - you need me", "You can't make it on your own", "If you leave I'm taking everything and you'll have nothing" and "Nobody else will want you".
Sometimes - like in MIC - the threats are dressed up in fancy words. Former Nato secretary general Lord Robertson recently said the global future would be "cataclysmic" if Scotland drags 'us' through a "debilitating divorce".
Like an aggressively grasping unwanted partner pushing the 'you and me against the world' line, Robertson evokes the spectre of dangerous, sinister outside forces by saying: "The loudest cheers for the break-up of Britain would be from our adversaries and from our enemies" and "If the United Kingdom was to face a split at this of all times and find itself embroiled for several years in a torrid, complex, difficult and debilitating divorce, it would rob the West of a serious partner just when solidity and cool nerves are going to be vital."
Then, causally making Scottish voters uniquely responsible for the future of life on Earth, Robertson added: "Nobody should underestimate the effect all of that would have on existing global balances and the forces of darkness would simply love it." This is my favourite line, as it starts off like a sinister occult threat in Harry Potter and turns into an advert for chicken nuggets. That about sums up the 'No' approach - ludicrous hyperbole and dreary marketing, on behalf of big business.
If a Jeremy Kyle guest talked such drivel to a partner, he or she would be shouted down for coming out with a manipulative pile on nonsense. They might then find themselves wired up to a lie detector to test their sincerity. If a Made in Chelsea character said such a thing, it is likely that social niceties would be dropped and they would be mocked mercilessly by hoards of champagne swigging TV 'toffs'. Even Spencer's exes would instantly see through such transparent manipulation.
It is highly insulting to Scotland, therefore, when politicians and others with a vested interest try to manipulate voters in a way that wouldn't even work on drunk cartoon socialites in a 'reality' TV show. As a person living in England, I've always been happy being in union with Scotland. If I was a resident of Scotland, however, I would be so insulted by the shoddy attempts to manipulate that I would happily walk away from a disreputable Westminster.