What’s the point of reality television?

If there’s one thing that drives the television industry, it’s our persistent craving for potato chips and late night binges. We’ve contained the meaning of entertainment to a single idiot box from which comes forth loud music and wailing that we glare at with widening eyes and dropping jaws.

Come to think of it, we’ve become so reliant on television shows that we no longer have time to rise from the couch to watch the sun set. We no longer have the motivation to wake up at dawn, and we don’t even have the simple sense to leave the couch for water. Why should we, when Bay Watch is on and the roommate is passing by the fridge?

Reality television has made us lazy. We’ve run headlong into a devil that’s reality. Not trying to overdo the graphic here, but television shows nowadays do more harm that the good they claim to do. Not only do we spend more time sitting idle, snacking, but we also seldom realize what’s happening around us.

It’s not unlike mobile phones. People complain that youngsters nowadays are so busy staring at their phones that they don’t even talk to the person sitting right next to them. Television shows aren’t much different. For instance, when I reach home after work, my roommates are busy biting their nails over what’s happening in X Factor, all the while stealing glances at their phones to check if they’ve received a reply on their WhatsApp chats. Not that I care much, but I’d rather go out to the terrace and take a breath of the monsoon breeze grazing along the horizon. Or take a peak at the waning moon, and count the days left until the next full moon. Or better yet, stare at the moon long enough until I think I see the American flag flapping away. For me, that’s more of a fun evening than wondering who’ll become America’s or Australia’s next top model.

I understand, though. We toil hard enough and want nothing more than to unwind at the end of a long work day. And television shows are a great mindless activity to get our minds away from the gruelling tasks of everyday life. So I don’t blame my roommates for not spending more time outside. What I’m unhappy about, though, is by using work stress as an excuse to plunge into a stream of television-watching, we’re only stressing our bodies and minds even more. It seems petty to me to have a heated argument over lunch about who’s a better singer in a country halfway across the world, on a show that’s running only for the rocketing ratings it brings to the channel. Also it’s a little sad that we depend on unknown faces and satellite connections to entertain us.

In the end, we’d have spent all our time either working for others’ benefit or worrying about others’ lives, losing ours somewhere in between the first and the second ad commercial.



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