March 12, 2011

TSA: The Constitution and Terrorism — Nicholas Burmeister (1/2)

Filed under: TSA — publicandprivatespace @ 4:58 pm

I did my research paper on the constitutionality of the Transportation Security Administration’s airport security methods, specifically the pat down method. This is the first of two posts, this one being the background information on the TSA and Constitutional Amendments.

The Transportation Security Administration was born out of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 by the Aviation and Transportation Security Act. It is tasked with securing our airports and other mass transit stations. Unfortunately, I and many others are of the opinion that they are doing a very poor job of this and that their current methods violate several Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, including two of the Bill of Rights.

The Amendments that are believed to be violated all have to do with search and seizure of persons. They are the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. (The website which I linked each of the Amendments to is It includes the text of each Amendment as well as the Supreme Court cases related to each one. It is an interesting read even without the context of the TSA.) Each of these documents are designed to protect citizens of the United States from unlawful search and seizure. The amendments and the Supreme Court rulings tell public officials that searches and seizures must be warranted and reasonable in terms of preventing undue stress or harm to the person being searched and unwarranted searches must have reasonable cause. I see these rights as being very important to prevent a police-state from forming.

The TSA does not provide any information saying that their procedure does not violate the Amendments. Their announcement is little more than a propaganda article. It doesn’t even provide any information on the procedure itself, just that it “makes security sense.” And some people do agree with them: in a rather humorous article, a reporter from spoke to several people named Pat Downs to get their feelings about the procedure. Pat Downs from Little Rock said “I don’t really see the problem… It makes me feel safer…” while Pat Downs from Toledo says the TSA should not allow their officers to molest people.

Benjamin Franklin provided his opinion on the subject many years ago: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety” This was said at the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1775, years before the Constitution was ratified. The Aviation and Transportation Security Act does not give the TSA permission to tread over and trash our ideals and freedoms to do its job.

What the ATS Act does do is give the TSA permission to keep our airports safe, but there really is no evidence the pat-down is going to prevent another attack. In fact, out of 30 terrorist plots that have been foiled and reported on by the media, 2 involved airplanes, and both of those were only stopped by the failure of their devices while on the planes! The TSA has not shown that they are effectively providing safety measures while maintaining privacy and constitutionality. ‘Evidence’ of the TSA’s effectiveness amounts to a non-specific list of items confiscated (the prohibited items list has over 100 members and a number of arrests made, usually for drug trafficking or fraudulent documentation.

The TSA is no more constitutional than it is effective. In fact, many people say the TSA has done exactly what terrorists have wanted. Terrorism is a tool to strike fear into an enemy:

“Section 802 of the U.S. Patriot Act, titled “Definition of Domestic Terrorism,” provides several definitions of domestic terrorism, including this one “The term `domestic terrorism’ means . . . activities that appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population.

Terrorism is used to make the people think about their lives as being in the hands of a foreign enemy. Every time a person is disrupted, molested, bothered or becomes fearful about flying or being in an airport, the terrorists have succeeded in their mission, or is it the TSA that is the real terrorist?

Here is Post 2

TSA: Evidence of Violation of the Constitution — Nicholas Burmeister (2/2)

Filed under: TSA — publicandprivatespace @ 4:54 pm

I did my research paper on the constitutionality of the Transportation Security Administration’s airport security methods, specifically the pat down method. This is the second of two posts. This post is about specific cases of violation of the constitution. Post 1 is here.

A document on the TSA’s website called TSA Myth or Fact? Leaked Images refers to several points of discussion as false and tries to present information proving that. Instead, some of the ‘myths’ are practically ignored while others have evidence proving that they are in fact true. Here are just some of them:

  • Everyone who travels will receive a pat-down.
    • The TSA calls this a myth and they are correct, less than 4% of people will be patted-down and only for one of a few specific reasons.
  • All children will receive pat-downs.
    • Again the TSA is correct in calling this a myth because, as before, only a small percentage of people are patted down and that percentage does apply to children. Where they are wrong, however, is that the page says the pat-down will be a modified form of the adult pat-down and more respectful due to their age. Here’s two cases of them being ‘respectful’.

Video of an 8 year old having his shirt taken off and patted down like an adult.

Video of a 3 year old screaming and fighting a TSA agent while being patted-down

  • The TSA pat-down is invasive
    • The TSA calls this a myth but never says that the procedure is not invasive, just that it was meant to provide extra safety. John Tyner felt that it was invasive and became the ‘poster child’ for the anti-pat-down movement as the ‘Don’t Touch My Junk’ guy after he was picked for a pat-down and told he would be fined up to $11,000 for refusing. The videos are here, and here. Others mentioned later in the blog agree.
  • Complaints about the pat-downs are extremely high.
    • The TSA twists the facts in their favor on this one. The website says “Only a small percentage of the traveling public receives a pat down as they travel through the security checkpoint.  Approximately 2 million people fly in the United States every day.  The number of complaints is extremely low.” What it doesn’t tell is that complaints about the pat-downs from those who receive them are more than 80%. Just because the people that don’t have to go through them aren’t complaining doesn’t mean they aren’t bad.
  • The pat-down is a punishment for opting out of the AIT.
    • While the TSA claims this is a myth, a sexual assault victim named Celeste felt that it is not. She reported that she refused to go through an AIT machine over health concerns and “the agent started yelling ‘Opt out- we have an opt here.’  Another agent took [her] aside and said they would have to pat [her] down.  He told [her] he was going to touch [her] genitals and asked if [she] wouldn’t rather just go through the scanner, that it would be less humiliating for[her]” This seems like punishment to me.

Celeste’s issues didn’t stop at the pat-down being punitive. Her case and others show that the TSA is in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment in that when she was searched she was put through undue mental duress. Being a sexual assault victim, she has a fear of being touched, especially by men, and she said that when she was being patted down, it was like a whole new sexual assault. She’s not the only victim having this feeling.

Additionally, victims of sexual crimes are not the only group being harmed by the pat-downs. Cancer survivors are as well. A bladder cancer survivor named Thomas Sawyer (yes that is his real name) and Cathy Bossi, a breast cancer survivor, were both embarrassed and humiliated by their pat-downs. Being a bladder cancer survivor, Mr. Sawyer is unable to control his urine flow and wears a collection bag around his leg. He told the officers about this but was still given a rough pat-down that resulted in his bag spilling all over his clothes. This and the delay caused by the line itself forced him to fly home covered in urine. Ms. bossi was forced to remove her prosthetic breast in full view of the public in order to pass her pat-down. Both called their experiences nightmares that came true.

Bringing people’s nightmare’s to life in the process of conducting a search is clearly not constitutional. Its borderline sadistic and certain TSA officers are being described as exactly that: sadistic and uncaring about the people they are in charge of checking. Many if not most don’t even change their gloves, or use incorrect procedure of storing their gloves, and the dangers of this are obvious.

Nobody deserves this treatment. I certainly won’t allow myself to be molested as a condition of flying. I have no problem with the TSA protecting us from terrorism but the way they are doing it is not right at all.

March 11, 2011

Dont Worry, Be Happy

Filed under: Uncategorized — publicandprivatespace @ 4:32 pm

In my previous post, I discussed how teenagers were letting their desire to find a sense of belonging harmfully affect their self worth and personal identity. The issue of balancing a sense of belonging and personal identity only became harder for teens when Facebook was invented.

Facebook has made itself available to age groups that are way too young to handle the potential consequences and inevitable stress. Unfortunately, we cannot deny teenagers access to Facebook, but we need to help them find other ways to stay occupied and happy. We have to encourage young people to find other ways of boosting self-confidence. They should be inspired to find an area or activity at which they shine, whether it is an academic subject, a sport, dance, or another hobby. Teens need to be associating these hobbies and sports with a sense of belonging instead of social groups.

Two teammates having fun and finding happiness in sports and teamwork. Not Facebook!

Most importantly, teens should be shown that their personal identity comes from the way they treat other people, their accomplishments, the love they receive from their family and friends, or their religion. Over the years I have decided that currently my personal identity is that I am a devoted student, a loving daughter and sister, a loyal girlfriend, and a reliable friend. My personal identity was not formulated by the way others saw me or by how someone would judge me based off of my Facebook profile. It was formulated by how I felt I treated others, specifically the people who care about me the most and whose opinions really matter to me.

Overall, I believe that the access to constant communication with others has made us forget that we do not always have to depend on others to make us happy. Constantly being in touch with peers has made us reliant upon their company for satisfaction. People need to be reminded that at the end of the day, they are the sole controllers of their happiness.

I believe that if these ideals are instilled into the minds of teenagers then they will rely less on Facebook and their social lives for happiness. Teenagers have their morals and priorities confused these days. If they are taught to appreciate the small blessings of their every day lives and the true meaning of self worth, then they can find true happiness.

By Devina Mehta

Killer Facebook

Filed under: Uncategorized — publicandprivatespace @ 4:23 pm

Teenagers are known to have the most issues with pressure and cyber bullying on Facebook than any other age group. Researchers have found that this is because this age group is just beginning to start searching for themselves and their unique identity while simultaneously feeling the need to conform. I myself have had issues finding my unique identity in American society while still trying to have a sense of belonging and relation with my Indian parents.  Because my parents grew up in a very conservative society in India they do not really understand why and how teenagers behave in America. Though I wanted to please my parents, I felt the desire to conform and belong with my American friends at school. It has been an ongoing struggle to formulate a personal identity that is a fusion of both my Indian heritage and the way I grew up in America. Because of my own experience, I can relate so well to teenagers who find that their life is a struggle between feeling a sense of belonging while finding a personal identity. They join social groups in hopes of feeling accepted and safe but then find it difficult to maintain their personal beliefs and values. Many teenagers tend to link their personal identity to the desire to belong through Facebook.

In an attempt to find their identity, they go to others for a sense of belonging and to gain an understanding of who they are. In adolescent minds, if they are part of the popular group then their personal identity would be that they are a good-looking, well-liked individual. This is why teenagers are the most susceptible to feeling the pressure to fit in, keep up, and ensure they are not excluded from the conversation on Facebook. When someone calls a girl a “dumb rich girl” on Facebook, that girl begins to believe that she is forever labeled. She begins to feel that since the entire world can see her profile page, the rest of the world will see her as a dumb rich girl. Socialization is the primary priority for teenagers who feel pressured to have an identity. This prioritization leads to teenagers associating their self worth (or personal identity) with their activities on Facebook.

The issue of teenagers linking their self worth to their Facebook page has had tragic consequences. I came across stories of three teenage girls who committed suicide after being embarrassed on Facebook. One of the girls, Holly Grogan, jumped off a bridge into a busy highway and was pronounced dead at the scene. Her parents and friends say that she had zero confidence after her “supposed” friends turned on her and began to leave nasty posts on her Facebook wall. In a similar case, another teen in England, Megan Gillan,  overdosed on painkillers after being bullied for a long period of time on an English social networking site called Bebo. The last girl, Pheobe Prince, was harassed on Facebook after she caught the attention of the school’s all-star football captain Sean Mulveyhill. She was not only physically bullied in the hallways of her own school, but she also received posts on her Facebook wall telling her to go hang herself, which she sadly eventually did. The worst part is that even in death, Phoebe Prince was bullied; her memorial page on Facebook was not left untouched by her tormentors.

These girls serve as an example of girls whose self worth had been obliterated due to the way people saw them through their social networking accounts.  The words posted about them on a social networking site were enough to push these girls to end their lives so early. Their suicides serve as an example of why teens are not ready to handle the consequences of Facebook.

By Devina Mehta

Read Before You Complain

Filed under: Uncategorized — publicandprivatespace @ 2:36 pm

Elizabeth Boekman

When using Facebook, the biggest concern a user has is how much information is being let out for the public to see.  If too much of the user’s information appears to be ‘let out’ then they automatically blames the Facebook Company for not doing all it can with its privacy settings.  Or the user blames Facebook for not informing or teaching them how to use the privacy settings.  This is actually not the case; Facebook provides users with several pages of information explaining each privacy setting and gives multiple sites on how to set the settings.  Users are being lazy and are expecting instant gratification. Instead of taking the time to look at the privacy page on Facebook they expect one paragraph of information that will solve all their problems, this however is not reality.

When joining Facebook, one of the first things a user has to do when signing up is check the small box in the corner that says they agree to all the Privacy settings.  Most users overlook the actual agreement and just click the box.  This makes the users appear dim and misinformed when they start claiming Facebook does nothing for privacy.  If users would actually take the time to read the privacy policy instead of overlooking it like usual then they would come to find that there is a lot of useful information in it.  It is broken down into nine easy to read sections explaining all of the information that Facebook receives, the information that users share with third parties, and there is even a section called “How You Can Change or Remove Information.” (Privacy Agreement) Users need to start taking the time to read the Privacy agreement to inform themselves before they start blaming the Facebook Company.

If a user wants to know more about the privacy settings on Facebook or how to set them, all they have to do is go to the ‘Privacy’ page on Facebook.  There is a button at the bottom of the news feed on every user’s homepage that will take them to the privacy page.  (Facebook privacy site) Once a user is on this page they are provided with information that explains not only the newest privacy features like instant personalization, but also helpful information like what to share on Facebook, connecting with people on Facebook, how minors using Facebook are protected, etc.  This page also tells the user what controls there are and how to use them.  The information is out for all Facebook users to see and now it is up to the users to take the time to read and apply it to their own accounts.

If the several pages of information on the Privacy policy page and the privacy on Facebook is still too confusing for a user and they need more help setting their privacy settings Facebook provides extra site that they can go to.  (Extra Help) At the bottom of the privacy page there are several links a user can click on that provide a more in-depth explanation of how to set privacy settings.  Some of these links consist of a three-part tutorial video that explains how to step-by-step change parts of your privacy settings.  They also provide other Facebook help pages like, Privacy FAQs, Security Page, Privacy organizations and agencies, Safety Center, and General Safe Harbor Notice.  (Safety Center) To say that Facebook is not providing enough information for their users on privacy seems redundant after reading pages on pages of the types of settings Facebook has for user privacy.  The users need to start taking actions and use what is provided for them.

If some users are still not convinced that Facebook will help set their privacy settings then users can find multiple outside sources that explain Facebook privacy settings.  (How to Protect Your Privacy with Facebook’s New Privacy Settings in 17 Easy Steps) All a user would have to do is type into a search engine “Facebook settings help,” and there are many pages that provide how to set the privacy settings. On most of the pages they give users an idea of the most important things to know about their Facebook.  Some examples of what information these site provide are information about tagged photos viewing settings, protecting the information of the people you are friends with, setting who can post on a users Wall, how to deactivate a Facebook account, etc.  The information on privacy settings on Facebook is out there for users.  It is the user that needs to take responsibility now and stop blaming the company for their laziness.  Users can protect themselves, now it is just a matter of if they will take the time to do it.

Music: Therapy on the go

Filed under: Uncategorized — publicandprivatespace @ 2:32 pm

Music therapy is becoming an effective way of mental therapy. It is starting to extinguish the need of going to a physiatrist or talking to someone about your problems. It is effective because there are many different ways ones mind and body can be affected by music. Music can affect your body in many ways. Music can have an affect on your brain waves when you listen to music. It can also alter your breathing and heart rate. Along with those things music can have a big affect on your state of mind when you are listening to music.

The power of music is so strong, even though you don’t notice it, when you listen to music the beat is affecting your brain waves. When you are listening to a song with a strong beat, that beat can stimulate your brain waves to resonate in sync with that beat. Listening to a faster beat can stimulate your brainwaves allowing your brain to have sharper concentration and more alert thinking. A slower tempo has the opposite affect causing a person to become calm and be in a sort of meditative state. You also don’t have to be listening to music in order for it to have effect on your brain. Research has shown that the change in brainwave activity levels that music can bring also allows the brain to shift speeds more easily on it own as needed, which means that music can bring lasting benefits to your state of mind.

Along with your mind, music also affects your breathing and heart rate. Music can increase or decrease ones heart and breathing rate based on the tempo of the music. This change occurs because the tempo affects autonomic nervous system. This information is important because work places can start playing music over their load speaker that can control their workers autonomic system.

Another way music can affect your body is through altering your state of mind.  Depending on what type of song a person is listening to it can change the mood someone is in. There are songs out there that can help to keep depression at bay along with reducing stress.

All of this is important because instead of someone going to a person for help when they are having mental issues. They will just plug in their IPod to cheer them up. Before you know it everyone will be using music as a way to escape reality, even if it may be for a brief moment. So next time you are in public and you need a little therapy just turn on your IPod and let your music take you away.


Alcohol and Privacy

Filed under: Uncategorized — publicandprivatespace @ 1:44 pm

By: Dylan Schnormeier

House parties and frat parties are a big part of college for many students. Parties are all about dancing, friends, having a good time, and drinking. Dancing and having a good time are not the problem though. Drinking is a huge part of these parties. Why does that matter though? Drinking can cause people to lose control of what they say. Sure people slur their speech when they are extremely hammered but that is not the focus of this. Losing control of what they say means they will say things they might not have meant to say or call someone they might not have wanted to call. It also causes people to do things they wouldn’t normally do. Families can get torn apart. Girls can get taken advantage of because of this. Let’s get started with digging into some of these situations.

People often tell their friends things and trust them to keep their mouth shut and not tell anyone else. This information might be hurtful to a friend or might get the person in trouble. When the person that hears this gets drunk, he or she might accidentally let this information slip. If it is told to another drunk person, then it might not be a big deal. However, if this is told to a sober person, this information can spread quickly. This could result in a friendship being ruined or a person getting into serious trouble. Alcohol impairs judgment and this results in people saying things they don’t mean. I’ve heard from many people that they have screwed things up with a friend because of a drunken comment they made. It doesn’t have to be a comment that was made face to face though.

I have heard many stories about drunk dialing and drunk texting. This is one way that people might say something they don’t mean or ruin a friendship. Let’s look at a situation. Jimmy is a freshman in college. His parents are paying for his tuition and everything so he has to listen to them and obey them if they don’t want him to do something. His parents have strict rules about underage drinking and partying and that sort of stuff. One night, Jimmy goes to a party and gets completely hammered. He accidentally calls his mom because he can’t clearly see his phone screen and he starts talking to her. She finds out that he is drunk. That’s the end of college for Jimmy until he can hold down a job and pay for it himself. This could completely change his life. He may never be able to save up enough money or have the time to go back to college. He got stuck in a job that didn’t make him happy and he made just enough money to pay the bills. This is all because of one mistake he made that was caused by alcohol.

Sometimes people are put in situations that take their privacy away completely. Studies show that if a man and a woman of equal size drink the same amount, the woman will typically have a higher BAC. Guys will sometimes take advantage of girls by first getting them drunk. When this happens, the girls’ privacy is completely taken away from them because of the alcohol. Alcohol kills consent but that doesn’t stop guys. Alcohol might cause a girl to trust a guy that she just met. If she trusts him too much, her life might be changed forever. The event might scar her for life. This doesn’t have to just impact the girls life though, the life of the guy might change drastically too. He might have to go to jail because of it or pay child support. This might also cause him to lose friendships and even some family might never forgive him.

There isn’t much actual information on how alcohol affects a person’s privacy. There is much information on what alcohol does to the brain and the rest of the body but not how it actually changes a person’s view on privacy. I guess this would always be different for each person since everyone is different. The bottom line is that alcohol can really mess up a life, even end a life. I’ve heard too much about people that die from alcohol. People just need to have some form of self-control when consuming it. Self-control can prevent most of this stuff from happening.

Millions of Watchful Eyes

Filed under: Uncategorized — publicandprivatespace @ 2:18 am

by:  Scott Smith


Ever since security cameras became popular and convenient for companies to use to protect themselves and their property; their numbers have grown exponentially.  There were many reasons to the sudden growth of security cameras including the increasing availability of new technology as society went through a ‘technological boom.’  Now small cameras that can be easily concealed are available to the public.  Even though the millions of security cameras that watch us every day provide security, we are trading this security for a large portion of our private space.

These new security cameras have the ability to do things only seen in sci-fi movies just years earlier.  Vlahos describes how the most advanced security cameras can use facial recognition technology to track your location where ever you go.  I definitely feel a little violated knowing that someone out there could know exactly where I am and what I was doing just because I showed my face in front of security camera.  Not only do the cameras have access to watching you, but your online activity can be monitored too.  Employers are the biggest users of this feature to keep an eye on their employees.  Would you feel comfortable at working knowing that your boss was watching your every move?

There are arguments that security cameras provide a feeling of protection.  I know that I personally feel safer in a building that has security guards overseeing the activities.  Cameras are also a great means in protecting personal valuables.  A great example of the sci-fi (which has become our reality) are the cameras used in casinos in the Ocean’s series.  The high tech cameras in this movie can detect heat and recognize faces.  There have been security cameras that have saved lives or brought justice to murderers and thieves.  So, there is no doubt that having an extra overseer that never blinks or needs a break has huge benefits on the public.  My argument that we are trading a vast amount of our privacy for this security is vastly overlooked by the public.

We may feel safer, but cameras are over running our country.  I, like many others, have fell victim to the new type of law enforcement:  red light cameras.  Law enforcements are now using cameras to do their job for them.  Using security cameras does not necessarily provider increased safety, but it definitely costs petty law breakers a lot more money.  Working out of the view of the public also presents the opportunity for the observer to be as biased as he or she pleases.  Camera crews can be hired to use hidden cameras to spy on spouses or friends that you believe to be deceiving you.  Reality television now has television series completely based on hidden cameras watching people’s everyday lives.  We sit and enjoy the comical and usually embarrassing adventures of others without stopping to realize that we are the stars of our own show to someone every day.

Many believe that there is no stopping the takeover of security cameras.  There have been plenty of examples were the courts have ruled in favor of security cameras.  The courts explain that whenever an individual ventures into the public, all their actions are for the public view and that’s why security cameras are legal.  However, I don’t think it is right that these ‘public actions’ should be saved and used to track certain individuals.  I believe that this is a breach of our privacy and safety because a lot of the footage can be accessed by the public in some way or another.  The public should be educated on how often they are being observed because if we leave the security cameras go unchecked we will live in a world dominated by video surveillance.

March 10, 2011

Sexting: Flirting with Trouble

Filed under: Uncategorized — publicandprivatespace @ 10:23 pm

Cara Meder

Within the past decade or so the use of cellphones has become increasingly popular, especially among teenagers.  The popularity of this technology has become so great that it seems as though the young adults that are using them have become dependent on them for many things.  Not only are these cellphones being used to place phone calls, but they are also used to send text messages, picture messages, and video messages.

`With the ability to send a picture to someone at the push of a button it is no wonder how “sexting” has become so popular.  The term “sexting” is used to describe the act of a person sending and/or receiving sexually explicit photographs or text messages via a cellphone and has become a huge topic of discussion in recent years.  Sexting is a trend that has become popular among teenagers especially and the biggest issue with this is that it is not uncommon that this act includes minors.  The Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 prohibited sexually explicit photographs of a minor engaging in sexual behaviors.  This act is what makes the issue of sexting such a big deal.

When considering the subject of sexting one must wonder where the First Amendment’s freedom of expression comes into play.  Although many would not approve of the sending of explicit photographs or messages, one could argue that it is a way of expressing oneself, and if no one got hurt then some believe that it should not be a crime at all.   Many states are working towards adapting their laws to deal with this new teenage phenomenon because many believe that putting these teenagers on the same level as sex offenders and child pornographers just does not seem right.  Although many states have changed the law to lower the charges they would face if caught, they still make it so they can face up to four months jail time if caught even though the charge is now a misdemeanor.

When these explicit text messages stay between the two intended recipients than the issue is not very prominent.  An issue arises when a minor is involved or when the message spreads beyond the two people.  A story of a young girl named Jessica Logan is one that tends to come up when the issue of sexting comes into play.  Because of this extreme case extreme measures were taken in order to stop it from happening again.  Situations like Jessica’s when a very private thing like sending flirty pictures from girlfriend to boyfriend, become private due to the fact that the boyfriend forwarded the photographs to other people can become very dangerous.  Some things are meant to stay private and when they are made public the results can be disastrous.

Something that has become a problem because of sexting is something the media calls “sextortion” arises which occurs when an individual contacts a person who has sent a sexually suggestive image of him or herself and threatens to expose the image to others unless terms are met such as more pictures or other sexual favors.  It is obvious how this can become a problem since blackmailing is a crime in itself, but if something such as this does not come from the sending of these “sexts” then the problem is not as great.

The simple fact of the matter is, sexting is out there and just because it is now considered illegal that does not mean that teenagers are going to stop doing it.  Over twenty percent of teenagers admit to sending or receiving explicit text messages, and it’s not like we are going to be able to lock them all up.

People Watch Reality TV for all the Wrong Reasons

Filed under: Uncategorized — publicandprivatespace @ 11:40 am

by Kyle Gooding

We have all surely seen a reality television show before and perhaps some of us are even avid fans of this type of genre, but do we ever wonder why we are so drawn to this kind of programming?  It is safe to say that most reality TV shows do not promote the most morally upright standard of living, so why has its popularity skyrocketed in the past few years?  At this point in our lives, chances are when we see these shows on our favorite stations we don’t even pay them a second thought.  They have simply become part of our day to day life and seem to be accepted with little thought as to why they are springing up everywhere, and in all different shapes and sizes.

 These shows do not set out to make us better people.  They achieve ratings by editing their contestants’ lives in order to pack them full of drama and promiscuity.  The people in charge of these programs know that they will receive better ratings if they exploit the more racy sides of life as opposed to people working together to selflessly help others.  And the public as a whole sits down and eats it all up with little to no remorse.  There must be something in particular that is drawing us like flies to this type of media.

 Reiss and Wiltz did a study on why people actually watch reality TV and the results are very interesting.  It was found that status is one of the big reasons people seek fulfillment of their entertainment needs by way of this genre.  Reality television is all about bringing out the worst in people so that the viewer can feel better about his own existence.  The people that specifically view these shows due to an ingrained sense of having a specified place in society, do so in order to feel that the people in these shows are beneath them.  They have a superiority complex that needs to be satisfied by watching other people’s problems.  This need to feel better about themselves can even be accomplished through shows like Biggest Loser that should be seen as purely uplifting.

  Another big reason for watching reality TV is to fulfill a need for voyeurism.  Reality TV is said to portray ordinary people engaged in the practice of being extraordinary, which leads the common man to dream of one day being in the same situation, or to simply live this dream through the people seen on his television.  People see the fame and status that comes with being on public television and decide that if they imitate these ordinary people, than they too will gain a slice of the good life.  Generally this “good life” is anything but good, and adds to the moral decay of our world.

  In some cases, it has been discovered that people actually fulfill their need for human contact through these shows.  This just strengthens the idea that reality TV is taking us away from relationships we should be forming with real people, and instead is attempting to present us with this replacement reality.  The people behind this programming want to draw us into watching their shows, and once they know what we want they will continue to reel us in.  Perhaps this would not be such a big deal, but in almost all cases reality TV appeals to our darkest emotions and desires.  Things like sex and drugs seem to insure the popularity of these shows.

 People also often watch this genre just to see the misfortune of others.  Reality TV does nothing to increase brotherly love or morality, and is actually leading us away from what we should value in society.  A recent show called Wipeout exists solely for the purpose of showing the pain of common people.  This show is all in good taste but at the same time, why do we enjoy seeing the pain of others so much?  I for one enjoy watching Wipeout on occasion, but this progression toward cheap laughs should make us wonder how far people are willing to go to inflict this type of humorous pain on others.  If you consider Jackass to be a reality TV program, than you probably have an idea of the extent some people are willing to go to in order to procure cheap laughs.


We should never simply accept something just because it seems natural to society.  Just because something gains a huge amount of popularity does not always mean it is right, and many times it pays off to think about how the genre actually gained its popularity.  Everything in our lives is present for a reason and if reality TV is a part of our day to day lives, than it must have some hold on our hearts.  So now we fill in the blank: I watch reality TV because ______.  If this answer is not something worthwhile to our development as humans than why do we tune in?

  We are at our most vulnerable when we settle down to be entertained by our televisions, and when something is so readily available to us we think it could not possibly do us any harm.  If we recognize the intent of these programs we will be less likely to be ambushed by this subliminal trap.  The creators of these cheap entertainment programs are in the business to make money, and are willing to exploit our human weaknesses to do so.  It is ok to watch reality TV, but being aware of its allure is essential.  We should always look past the façade of popular culture and develop opinions based on our own beliefs, not on what we are told is the norm.

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