These days there is a growing trend towards reality TV shows that are based on external shallow values. With the appeal of junk food, it has a powerful hypnotic effect even on the strongest minds. But while reality TV may seem like a harmless form of entertainment, the damage (which is done so subtly) is very powerful and therefore it deserves a closer look. So the question is ‘Do we really need another reality TV show or perhaps it’s time for a reality check? ‘
The popularity of reality TV shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the fact that we live in a culture that worships vanity, rather than virtue, and lives by the mantra of ‘He with the most toys lives,’ rather than ‘He with the most joys lives. ‘ It’s been said that circumstances don’t make a man, they only reveal him. Likewise, reality TV is merely a reflection of what our society has become – a materialistically driven society where the love of power and money overcomes the power of love.
It’s a reflection of a society that is not only devoid of a solid wholesome value system, but is also separated from spiritual roots. It’s also a culture that thrives on living on the edge, characterized by thrill-seeking and addictions (including the addiction to stimulation). So here is the true reality behind reality TV. Reality TV, which is in the business of making us feel good rather than be good, actually contributes to the growing problems in our society by celebrating human weakness rather than human excellence.
Reality TV doesn’t empower us, but rather overpowers us by taking our innate power and inner knowing and spirituality away from us, leaving us feeling insecure, inadequate, less fulfilled, isolated and confused by virtue of the promotion of anti-social behavior, excessive self-indulgence, self-entitlement, greed, compromised integrity, obsession with winning at all costs, and erosion in morality. When you consider the magnitude of the challenges that are facing America today, it becomes obvious that what we need is certainly not another mind-numbing reality TV show, but rather a good reality check.
Whether we recognize it or not, America is in desperate need of healing and true revival. It needs a jump-start, not only in the economy, but most importantly a jump-start in the spirit. After all, we are only as strong as our spirit, because when the spirit is weak it’s easier to become overwhelmed by what life throws our way. But when the spirit is strong, no turbulences can effect us, much like a ship in the vast ocean that can sail smoothly as long as there are no holes in it to make it sink.
America could use a reality check if only to reexamine our value system, which is out of balance and has led to social ills and failing systems and institutions. In a conflicted state of uncertainty, doubt and fear, it’s only natural for people to feel overwhelmed, wishing to escape from reality. However, reality TV proves only an artificial relief. It’s obvious that we are looking for love (real joy, fulfillment, meaning and purpose) in all the wrong places. In a culture that demands instant gratification, and relief from everyday anxieties, a quick fix (for coping), seems to be the chosen drug of choice. So now for that reality check.
The reality is that the prevailing mentality in American society today is ‘more is better,’ acquiring external riches as opposed to internal riches and that you can get something for nothing. There is a sense of entitlement and an expectation of wanting the good life without having to work hard for it. This is reinforced, glorified and perpetuated by the media with shows like ‘The Lifestyle of The Rich and Famous. ‘ When all you see is glamour, but not the hard work and sacrifice that goes into achieving success, it only inspires more envy and the desire for a ‘get rich quick’ scheme leading to the erosion of morality and integrity.
From environmental pollution to spiritual pollution, we can no longer ignore our failing systems and institutions. From an Enron economy with ballooning budget deficits (which is really a reflection of a deficit in integrity) and a vanishing social security system (which creates social insecurity) to politicians doing what’s politically correct instead of what’s in the best interest of the community, to a failing education system as reflected in poor test scores which lag behind those of other nations, to the break-down of the family system (where kids find themselves home alone growing up with heir peers, gangs or TV without nurturing parents to instill in them solid wholesome values system), we are planning to fail by default. Our spiritual bankruptcy is evident practically in every facet of our lives, resulting in social ills from perversion, to the phenomenon of people going from being heroes to zero. We can no longer ignore the senseless violence in our schools and crime on our streets, increased teen suicide (often due to hopelessness, low self-esteem, lack of direction and a solid, wholesome value system) and substance abuse.
Americans are more stressed out today than ever before despite the fact that we have the highest standard of living in the entire world. The true reality is that America is going, slowly but surely, from being a nation of producers and innovators to a nation of insatiable consumers (even the holidays are too commercialized to enjoy) while drowning in debt just to support a lifestyle we can’t even afford. All of these problems can be traced to the pursuit of materialism, which is a by-product of the American Dream.
But rather then play the ‘blame game,’ it’s far more productive to approach the reality TV issue in terms of what you can do to improve your own life. A reality check is a good starting point. Remember, the true spirit of the American Dream was all about perspiration, innovation, risk and reward with the focus on a wholesome values system, integrity, a strong work ethic, community and being of service. All of which creates total prosperity (from health to wealth) with purpose, meaning and real joy. Now that’s a reality worth striving for!