Whether you’re into Big Brother or you keep up with the Kardashians, many people spend numerous hours each week watching reality television shows. And if you dare tell them what happens before they watch the next one, all hell just might break loose.
There are not many benefits to spending an entire day watching back-to-back episodes of a certain program. It’s an obvious waste of time as you procrastinate from studying and normal life.
Characters in these shows largely serve one of two purposes.
First, they represent an ideal. Their lives look fascinating and different from ours. Take Lauren Conrad for example. While on The Hills, Conrad managed to hardly move all day — often getting pedicures or lounging by the pool — but ate out for all her meals and still managed to show up looking like a fox at unreal beach parties. Seriously, who lives like that?
Of course my grade nine self followed those ladies from The Hills to The City, meanwhile hoping that someone would approach me to feature my life in something similar. I’m still waiting for The Prairies to take flight, starring yours truly.
Secondly, reality TV characters serve as a form of amusement to be laughed at and judged. Sure, you might be broke and failing all your classes, but at least you’re not Snooki. But whether Snooki is pregnant or her new book sucks is totally irrelevant because you’re still broke and you’re still failing your classes.
Then there’s more family-centered reality TV. Sister Wives, Cake Boss or 19 Kids and Counting would all fall into this category. However, even these shows can go terribly wrong. Remember John & Kate Plus Eight? Yeah, mostly just Kate nowadays. The marriage unfortunately imploded on television, effectively tearing the family apart for a while.
What about Toddlers and Tiaras? They may look cute, but what kind of society is this that we sit at home watching six-year-olds get spray tans and compete to see who looks better. They’re six years old; who cares?
Reality TV is rarely about promoting social justice, good morals or kindness. Instead people are applauded, judged or mocked at for acts of violence, lying, cheating, vulgarity and excessive materialism — all the while setting awful examples for viewers of all ages. There seems to be no limit to how far is too far.
In effect, I think reality TV helps viewers to temporarily walk away from their own realities. Watching somebody else experience life — the good, the bad and the ugly — is generally pretty amusing and serves as great gossip. But it definitely doesn’t teach anyone anything worth learning. I really think there can be a better method of unwinding or amusing ourselves.
Reality television is fundamentally a massive waste of time that could be better used. Most viewers know this yet choose to engage anyway. But spending spare time watching series after series won’t get you more friends, make you smarter, help you in school and it definitely won’t improve your character as a human being.
So yes, count your blessings that you’re not Snooki. But don’t blame her if you’re looking to improve the quality of your life.
The next time you decide to hibernate in your bed with a reality TV show, maybe reconsider. My guess is that there are several other things that you could use that time towards. Rather than watching someone else’s life, try spending more time engaging in your own.
Photo: Show Still