Enough already! We’ve been here before.

I can’t believe the media frenzy around how, according to “everyone”, Twitter virtually single handed heralded a new era of citizen journalism. This little 140 character wonder is able to leap tall political buildings in a single bound …

From all the reporting you would think never before in the history of man has broadcasting ever had a more profound impact on the political landscape.

How ridiculous.

One only needs to look back over the years – these “media game changer” moments happened again and again. From the impact TV coverage of Vietnam war had on the American psyche to the availability of bandwidth for public access to the ability of anyone to broadcast via the internet – whether it be Twitter or any number of other video based chat rooms.

These all share one fundamental trait – they allow the one:many broadcast model. Technology just made this capability available to almost everyone … whether a news station or a civilian broadcasts a riot on his cell phone.

The opening up of a broadcast platform to so many more people is not without significant issues. It is not hard to fathom how, a particularly clever influencer, could recruit an army of citizen journalists to broadcast a particular version of a story. The lack of credentials and accountability is a startling development that should not be ignored.  

It’s one thing for anyone and everyone to become a mini broadcast network – the question then becomes which broadcaster can we trust.

Unfortunately, now you’re on your own, my friend.

Judy Shapiro

Reality TV – the ultimate oxymoron

                                                                                                                               

I keep seeing reality TV shows pop up all over the place. They are a producer’s dream. Cheap, easy to produce – just find a theme, a bunch of people you can exploit, mix it all up and wham you have instant ratings. The first reality TV shows were sorta amusing. But now we seem to take perverse pleasure in seeing just how much public humiliation someone is willing to endure for some bucks or some fame.

Here’s the sad truth – reality TV, exploitative though it may be, get good ratings. Why? It gives us the chance to either feel better about ourselves because we don’t have these people’s problems or we feel worse about ourselves because we would never have the courage, nerve whatever to do what they did to get on TV. We may even feel both better and worse about ourselves for the same reason – because this is this “their” reality – not ours. No matter what we  feel though – we will feel something about ourselves and that is highly ego gratifying.

Now here’s the far sadder truth. Watching reality TV shows seem to be taking the place of our living real lives. We seem content to watch other people living lives – like travel shows about places we should go and see for ourselves or we watch 16 year old bratty kids have ridiculously extravagant birthday parties instead of marking the occasion with some meaningful recognition of the budding maturity in that sixteen year old.

Our virtual world occupies more of our lives than actually living does. Our real lives almost seem like interruptions to our virtual reality.

So let’s remember folks – reality TV is not possible. It is either real or it is TV. It can not be both. We would do well to remember the difference.

Judy Shapiro

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