We often talk about reality TV shows as “guilty pleasures”. I must confess there are some reality shows I watch and I don’t feel the least bit guilty about it. After all, life is much less about what banal things you do and more about why and how you do them. For me, reality shows (certain ones, to be clear) are fascinating experiments in what it means to be human.
Without a doubt, the most prevalent reality in any of the reality TV shows I watch is the double standard by which we measure. Human beings have a tendency to prescribe the strictest weights and measures to those around them, especially those they are in competition with or, oddly, those they love. At the same time, we assign to ourselves a much lighter measure of justice. We give ourselves the benefit of the doubt, measuring our intentions rather than the consequences our behavior initiates. We do the exact opposite when measuring others.
Here are two quick examples. I watched a competition show where people were put in teams of two and did a series of challenges. One partner brags when they do well and then complains when their partner brags for doing well. They trumpet their ability (how they are “carrying the team”) but then bemoan the very same behavior form their partner (complaining of being a “bad teammate” or a lack of empathy).
Similarly, I saw a terrible episode of a show where someone berated another person until they cried. Nothing short of bullying. When the victim’s friend turned the table, the initial berater wept and wondered how anyone could be so mean.
The Bible says that we will be judged “as we judge”. That the measure we use will be used against us.
This is a truth we do not seem to take to heart. “It is different”, we say. Indeed it is. The roles have reversed. And we expect a different standard to be used on us than we consistently use on others.
This inconsistency is a plague on human behavior and perspective. It destroys relationships. It churns us into enemies. And, perhaps most importantly, it twists and turns reality so that we are no longer able to discern what is true.
A lot of TV personalities – as well as real life and social media personalities – are talking about “my truth”. This is the way we recast weights and measures in our own image. There is no The Truth. Only mine and yours. Incompatible, circumstantial, and emotional.
We are drifting away from reality. We can’t see or hear anymore. Our brains are too busy perverting truth and justice with our biased and self-centered weights and measures. We are drifting apart, not just from one another but from what is real.
How do we correct this festering problem? How do we get ourselves out of this denial of reality?
It is not easy. It’ll require humility and truth. But we have hijacked the concept of both so that I am not even sure we know what we are talking about when we say “truth” anymore. We assume we’ve got it and “they” need to play ball – or be destroyed. We are in echo chambers. All of us. Our internalized solution is that “they” need to get out of their echo chambers. “They” need to accept reality. “They” need to change and treat us with the measure we deserve. It compounds the problem rather than solve it.
Where do we go from here?