Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Reality TV and Me.

I am at a stage in life where I am comfortable with admitting that I really do love reality TV – something that peer pressure generally dictates you should hate. This is in the same way that I am also comfortable with admitting that I hate the Wizard of Oz, Baked Beans, and Ice-skating: things that social peer pressure genrally dictates you should love.

In real life, I am completely disinterested in school-gate gossip, other people’s misfortune, physical confrontations, formal events such as Christenings and anything else I can’t wear jeans to. However, this disinterest turns on its head as soon as the elements are ‘virtually’ viewed: there’s nothing I love more than a fly-on-the-wall view of a genuine argument or fight – I love ‘You’ve Been Framed’, ‘Come Dine with Me’, and was genuinely disappointed when ‘Kirsty’s Home Videos’ stopped production.

I am no longer a Big Brother fan, but I was completely hooked in its first couple of seasons – when it was all still real; cast with real characters without the underlying celebrity connotations and overacting. I still get hooked when a genuine reality show comes on – as long as it’s fresh and not over-worked or contrived – I am fascinated by gaining insight into other people’s lives, but anonymously, secretly, indulgently. There will be many psychological suggestions that I use it as a crutch to support the belief that my life is comparatively in control; Compared to the people in these shows, it validates that I have a happy family life, a good job, my son is well behaved, we eat healthily, I’m not depressed/neurotic/unhinged/a stalker.

It’s reality-comparing in bite-sized chunks, that you can reject if you see something that you don’t want to engage with.

It is for these very same reasons that I love Social Networks – I am virtually addicted to LinkedIN, Twitter, Facebook – all for slightly different, but fundamentally the same reasons as my fascination with Reality TV – Virtual insight into other, REAL people’s lives; their jobs, their friends and their day to day musings – all of which I can reject at the click of a mouse if the insight doesn’t fit with my needs. I can have as much or as little interaction with these networks as I need in order to ensure my own needs feel met – if I’m feeling in need of social support I can reach out to one of my girlfriends over Facebook; if I need professional advice or referral I have a completely separate set of connections on LinkedIN, and Twitter enables me to follow randomly interesting people for as long as my intrigue lasts – then I can un-follow them and select another.

I had always refrained from blogging until Twitter came along – my previous attempts at publishing blog posts folded under the pressure of perceived expectations : Why would anyone read it?, Would they think I was boring? Isn’t it all a big intrusion? But maybe it’s all part of my place in my life’s journey – in the same way I can admit to my hate of Ice-Skating, Baked Beans, Horses...maybe now I am comfortable enough with myself to not worry about whether people agree with what I’m twittering about – in the knowledge that they can just un-follow if they find me an insufferable bore. It’s the final piece of the jigsaw – I can talk to people without opening my mouth, and without needing them sat next to me – I can have the best of both worlds – seclusion and interaction – all on-demand.

My Twitter experience has now lead me back to full-on blogging - thus the manifestation of ThinkerActivity...

Ultimately though, as a person who has an almost insatiable appetite for knowledge: it’s all a learning experience – ambiently absorbing thoughts, conversations and bits of information without having to find the time in my busy, and finely routined life to specifically set aside for it.
Sad? Maybe. Embarrassed? Never.

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