Reality shows present an odd reality


“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” —Albert Einstein

Do people still like happy endings? Or are messy middles more fun?

I’ve been trying to figure out why some reality shows bother me so much. The obvious reason would be the fact that they are all creatively edited and at least partially scripted, which makes them the opposite of real.

But the more I think about it—and I have a feeling this puts me in the minority—the main reason is because I wonder if we really need to know so much about these people.

All we see, whether it’s technically “reality” or not, is the daily messes piling up on top of each other as they self-destruct. The histories of these shows make it pretty clear that there aren’t many happy endings.

It doesn’t help me to watch a dysfunctional family fall apart on national television. In a twisted way, it could make me feel a little better about myself to say, “Well, we have our problems, but at least we’re not that screwed up.”

In books and movies, it’s different. I prefer confused, tortured souls. The more damaged, the better. In fiction, you can sympathize because their faults make them more relatable. So why is it so different when they’re real people exposing it all for a camera?

It may be that I subconsciously know that as messed up as fictional characters are, they’re a figment of someone’s imagination. They’re flawed but there’s an end to their story. No harm done.

It’s not that easy with reality shows. They don’t end, they just fade to make room for the next one. Then what? Can those people ever live a normal private life without feeling inadequate because the cameras are gone?

Another thing that puts me in the minority is my take on Facebook. I use it and for the most part, like it. I’ve found distant family members and old friends that I may never have connected with otherwise.

But then there’s that corner of Facebook that feels a little narcissistic. I could be overanalyzing, but I have to wonder why anyone would care if my current status is tired, confused or busy.

If that’s the case, I should be sleeping, figuring something out or getting something done. The Internet is usually a stall tactic for procrastinators like me anyway and Facebook feeds right into that character flaw.

Rachel Gaynes, a writer featured in the Columbia (Mo.) Tribune offered her take on the public social movement including Facebook by saying, “The concept of being social has adapted, now requiring that a person be eternally connected and no longer differentiate between personal and public information. Young people have accepted that sharing private information about themselves is simply a part of having friends….”

I’m not technically a part of that generation since I passed 20-something a few years ago. Maybe that’s the problem. I’m in that “when I was your age” phase. My poor kids, they’re in for it now. (If I have any influence at all, their journals will be on paper, hidden somewhere in the bedroom, not online.)

It must be the need for privacy embedded into my character that holds me back from going overboard on the reality craze.

Obviously, everyone’s public life is just the “tip of their iceberg.” Some are more comfortable than others in letting it all hang out…or peering in at what others hang out.­


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