In a society driven by instant gratification and shortened attention spans, it is no wonder we live the chaotic lives that we do. Meet reality TV, all the time, in real time: Welcome to the 21st Century on social steroids!
It’s been said that too much of a good thing might not always be good for an individual. For millions, however, mammoth social media sites have become the proverbial looking glass into our own “reality TV” social mini-shows. 845+ Facebook million users, 90 million Google+ users and 107 million U.S. Twitter users (among several others) love, love, love to socialize, download apps, play games, debate politics and even hold online engagements! These reality-based, in-your-face, online, all-the-time networks are the next best alternative — if not THE best, alternative to real life. In fact, social media and reality TV mirror one another in several ways. So much so, that Court TV made the move to “TRU TV” to place an emphasis on the legitimacy of its cable-based show series’. That’s the funny part. We are all seeking an escape into our own alter-egos that we diminish the value of truth. Social media has become the bully pulpit of our sense of self-esteem and the sometimes polar opposites of who we truly are.
Egocentricity. Sigmund Freud was definitely onto something when he discussed the Ego, the Id and the Superego. I do not think he ever envisioned a society so self-centric and enamored by flighty and surrealistic realities in the modern world. In essence, the combination of Reality TV (over 200 of them) and social media networks gave rise to the egoistic monster not just in man, but in society as a whole. Is it that we want a bite of that big apple and have our 15 minutes of fame; or is it more than just that? Is it the fact that many grew up as latch-key kids – deprived (or believed to have been deprived) of nurturing and a fairytale upbringing that in the real world, does not and has not ever existed?
The End Result. In contrast, life appeared to have been much simpler half a century ago. It’s an old cliché, but when you turned on the black and white television, the President was on all three channels. You had to watch every news report because you didn’t have 500 satellite or cable channels from which to select like you do now. Simpler translates into a philosophy that you had to actually work to achieve things, go out and meet people if you wanted to make friends (or make a love connection), and pay attention to the factual news because it could and would affect your lives.
Today, Internet advertising is just as fundamental as television and radio. If you visit YouTube regularly, note that each video is introduced with either some political advert or corporate fluff and stuff that’s guaranteed to fix what ails you or snags your attention for the latest junk food, among other “fillers”. And of course, like the abovementioned social media adversaries, YouTube promises an engaging and entertaining platform that begs the Ego to jump onboard for a free thrill. But freedom to feed your ego has its price. Those who play the part on the social media stage (and the Reality TV stage), often become the puppet to the ego. Human addiction to the constant stream of endless threads drives sales, drives advertisements, and consequently, drives sensationalism in the worst degree.
There are many pros to social media as it has ushered in an age of social justice in several regions around the world. It has given birth to communications between people of all nationalities, races, religions, ages and creeds. To many, it has become a passageway to careers, friendships, partnerships and even love. But it is what it is. Just like any other multimedia platform, social media can be a splendorous and useful thing. As a precaution, however, never become a slave to your ego or the social media channels that drive it. Freedom of thought and logic is priceless. It should never be replaced by a reality that does not exist.
2012: Do we rule social media, or does it rule us?
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