When I was in high school I had this little “thing” that got me through troubling times. I would imagine that everything around me was nothing more than a television show and all I had to do to rid myself of whatever was going on was flip a switch. It’s no secret that we artistic types are an odd bunch; so it should be no surprise that that strange delusion followed me into adulthood — only it evolved… and became snarky.
Back when I was in high school reality “TV” was called life and it had absolutely nothing in common with the “reality” spoon-fed to us by network television. Reality was boring, confusing, sometimes hard to swallow — but it was all we had. It was our life and even living in small town Indiana, we did our best to muddle through.
And I watched and watched. All around me, in 360 degrees of psycho-tronic uber-vision everything churned and turned exactly as expected. Reality was at the same time thrilling and boring, serious and silly, melodramatic and apathetic — it was a colorful mixture of metaphors and paradigms. Ultimately — reality was what we created around us; and when I wanted that reality to go away, I turned it off or switched the channel.
Or so I wished.
No matter how many times I turned the channel — the reality was the same. Families were dysfunctional, relationships either ended or flourished, your team either won or lost, a simple head cold could still take you down, and Geddy Lee could always make you smile by ‘slappin’ da bass’.
But what happened? Where’d the TV screen go? Why can’t I mute or fix the horizontal control? Maybe, just maybe… my own personal revolution will NOT be televised. In our magical, digital, ever-shrinking world that’s just twenty minutes into the future anything is possible.
Even still — this world has become so small that television screen is no longer a tiny black and white screen, but a huge, high definition, 3D LED, panoramic view. So the screen is still there… it’s just become too real to discern it from the actual world around me.
“Actual” — not “reality”.
Reality TV is the new reality. But is it the new truth? I have to hope it is not. I watch the screen that serves as my window to the world and watch on as the younger generations live and die by a reality so out of touch with truth it makes me weep for the future. I know, I know… every generation says the same thing of the youth. But this time around, we watch as teen pregnancy is celebrated, ignorance is lauded, and melodrama is seen as every day life.
Please, let me turn this channel!
Life is not pop-culture reality. Life is the culmination of everything — past, present, and future. Life is as enchanting at the same time it is boring. Reality is a series of ups and downs — not a series about ten year old beauty pageant “queens” and their over-ripe, over-blown, over-bearing mothers.
I shouldn’t have to say the programs so many tune into nightly are doing little more than numbing society to ignorance and foolish decisions. We’ve been “honey boo-boo’d” and the longer we watch the harder it will be for us to turn away.
There are days I long to have the simplicity of that tiny screen hanging between me and the world back. Give me that simple truth and nothing more. Let me have my fantasy back — the one where everything I am watching is the real reality.