There are a thousand and one reality programs airing on televisions stations worldwide and many more jostling for airtime on television channels. From Big Brother ©to Survivor© to Panic Room© to Fear Factor© and so many others too numerous to mention, all are seeking for our attention. For every ten reality programs that get air time on stations twenty or thirty more had been rejected. Individuals and families are accepting to have the camera follow them 24/7 for a reality show that they hope will entertain the viewership, get them some financial benefit and probably make them celebrities in the long run.
With all these, one is bound to question if there is reality in these programs or just an advanced level of make believe. What the viewers want to see determines what you showcase as “reality” in the reality program. So as advanced as we think we have become in intelligence and knowledge we are still being deceived into watching fiction only that now we have given it a new nomenclature; Reality TV.
When families participate in these programs it creates a problem for those watching who want to use them as role models and the ideal of what a family will be. So families start working to unattainable goals that end up causing rifts in the fabrics of the family because the goal set is not only unattainable but unrealistic. Without trying to be judgmental, a lot of these programs cut off unsavory family issues which they believe will not enhance the entertainment value of the program and yet it is these issues that make a family.
That argument you have with your Dad not about your girlfriend or getting a drivers license but about his decision to cut down your allowance because of your flouting a particular rule or the debate about not wanting to go to Harvard Law but wanting to pursue a career in writing. These are the things that make a family; these are the blocks upon which families are elevated.
For growing children and especially teenagers it creates a perception disturbance in their lives. Trying to marry the “reality” of reality TV with the reality of their own homes, it creates a distortion that reflects in their relationship with their parents and siblings; when they begin to make demands of their parents and siblings that have no basis in reality.
Among individual reality shows the problems are the same or almost the same. When a person’s character strengths and positives are constantly glamorized, they are made into demigods with no failings. That is a pretty high standard for that adolescent who is trying to find his feet in life and really define who he is. It makes him learn to cover his deficiencies instead of understanding that it’s the quirks in our characters that make us who we are. So he learns a life of pretense, building a façade round his life that makes him at some point to lose the identity of who he is. Tell a lie for a long time and it starts looking like the truth and eventually becomes your truth.
Our realities are being defined by these shows and its causing a misperception of reality for us. What is my reality and how is it connected to the reality of the world? These shows have inadvertently focused on and exaggerated the entertaining aspect of life and done away with the negative, the base human nature, and the primitive instincts that make us who we are. It has removed our minds from the freedom to fail that creates geniuses out of us and gives us courage to dare to change the status quo.
A generation grows up thinking that the life of family “A” on reality TV is how life should be. A home where there are minimal to know disagreements, where every quarrel is settled to everyone’s advantage, the children and the parents are always on the same page or most of the times are.
Glamour and entertainment is what the world is about today and so individuals and families are being remolded to fit that paradigm and what better way than through misrepresented reality. To be sure, not all reality programs are bad some have something good to offer and even for the crassly bad ones there still maybe one or two things to learn from them.
It’s high time we log out from this black hole of reality misrepresentation and see these programs as nothing more than fictional programs which are no more than the Lord of the Rings or the Star wars or the Gladiator movies.
We knew they were beautiful works of fiction and we enjoyed them for what they were, because nobody tried to sell us a load of goods that they were “reality shows”.
Keep thy heart with all diligence for out of it flow the issues of life. (Prov.4:23)