Avoiding contact with humanity: the reality TV trend

Reality TV has infiltrated the pop media. Once, my coworkers and I were eating lunch and the conversation turned away from food, the usual topic, to the hit show, “American Idol.” It seems that my 20-something coworkers and I watch the show on a regular basis. I was almost ashamed to admit it-I’ve made it this far without sitting through an entire episode of “Survivor.”

It made me wonder why I could have, in view of the original reality shows like “Survivor”, and before that, “Cops.” Our fascination with real human lives stems from the decline in face-to-face interaction due to the widespread adoption of the internet.

As the entertainment media evolved, we became more dependent on it. We have since come to expect “real” lives and people to replace the truly real people from whom we have become disenfranchised.

The “contestants” on “American Idol” are our friends at their best; they are ourselves at our best. They are us at our darkest, it is no surprise that many people love Simon for his cruelty. When one of the contestants performed poorly and was criticized by the sunshiny Paula Abdul, who could keep from smiling when Simon quipped “welcome to the dark side, Paula?”

I wonder more about the power these people have over me. I like them, and want them to succeed. Having gone two years without owning a TV, I sense that my will is weakening when I feel sad because an episode of “ER” or “The West Wing” is a repeat.

It may be that the world around my TV set is not as interesting /friendly/exciting as the world behind the glass. Perhaps this craving for “real” people on TV is a craving for a more fulfilling life.

What it comes down to is priority. More people watch TV regularly than vote, and then people wonder why the administration they like best is found on NBC and was nominated for 22 Emmys. But then again many of us do vote. This week I dialed 1-866-IDOLS-01.