Most of us feel we are adequately educated, wise about the workings of the world and simply put- intelligent specimens of the human race. We generally pride ourselves on being above manipulation and very aware of the manipulators. Yet we have found ourselves time and again sitting in front of the tv drawn to one of the hundreds of “reality shows” like an intoxicating cocktail. Hooked by the drama, play out of personalities and relationships and the lifestyles so different from our own. But is it reality?… really?? Of course not we say. We know better yet we belly up to the bar nightly for more.
For some reason, we have long found voyeurism enticing. From the enjoyment of people watching at the mall to cranking our neck around at a crash scene. We want to know how other people live…and die. Reality t.v. seems to satisfy this little fetish of ours as we watch Honey Boo Boo’s family, laugh at their backward style and ignorance and feel relief that we are not them. Maybe you are more into Snookie as you snicker waiting for the next cat fight or backstabbing which does not involve you. Or is your thing Duck Dynasty as you are enticed by the long beards and mountain men masquerades of these savvy businessmen.
We eagerly await culture shock as we peer into the lives of Amish youths in New York City. We anticipate a major gold strike for the Alaskan miners who are at the brink of losing it all or so we are told. We choose the best mate for the bachelor or bachelorette as they attempt to find that happily ever after love on t.v. We live vicariously through it all and discuss with co- workers at the water cooler the next day. Oh but we know it is not real. Right?
While we watch, the producers demand more drama for the ratings. While we watch, the participants barter for more money per episode. While we watch, we are played and they are all the players. Reality t.v. does not give us insight into another’s world. No more than the cage at a public zoo. By simply interjecting the cameras and production staff…their lives have already been altered and the true voyeuristic view has been severely tainted. The corporations are happy as ratings come in and advertising profits go up. The actors (well they are really) are paid for their services and continue to portray a life unaffected by the mighty $$. And we are satisfied that we have watched with permission, the private lives of others play out in prime time. We are Truman and this is the show.
I have written about this because I am bothered by where we are headed out here in the real world. It is now acceptable to be conned by these “reality” shows. We know they are staged, but we don’t admit it. You may ask so where is the harm? But where is the reality…it is so fogged and skewed that we no longer seem to even care what is real or not. That is the danger. When we accept this for hours on end as our eyes are glued to the screen it becomes easier to accept this manipulation elsewhere. And eventually reality is no longer expected, demanded or even important. Then we become a mush of manipulated non thinkers fed by the hand of others. Our world needs us to demand truth and reality. We have important decisions to make and heavy tasks ahead of us… This indifference towards truth is seeping into our media as political pundits and spin become the norm and unbiased reporting becomes extinct. Hard science is questioned and facts turned into theories without hesitation. Our real world is a blur of subjective data and little facts. We are headed down a slippery slope of unmindfulness. Unfortunately we just don’t buy it.
“We accept the reality of the world we are presented.” (Christof- The Truman Show)