June 1, 2011

Voyeurism is Inescapable

Filed under: Uncategorized — publicandprivatespace @ 12:50 pm

By. Kelsey Smyth

In present day America voyeurism is a common, widely accepted practice.  This may seem surprising because the word carries a negative connotation.   Voyeurism comes in a variety of forms; the most common is the negative image of a “peeping tom.”  A creepy man, who tries to satisfy his sexual desires by, climbing up a tree to look in a teenage girl’s window as she changes, looks up a girl’s skirt, or other through other invasive methods.  Obviously this activity is not society approved.  However technologies such as surveillance cameras, and web cams, as well as American’s fascination with reality TV are all common ways voyeurism is accepted.    

A sign that voyeurism is not only accepted, but supported in our society is American’s obsessive use of surveillance cameras.  In 2007, there were an estimated 30 million surveillance camera in the United States, and the average American was caught on film about 200 per day.  The number of surveillance cameras continues to increase all of the time, thus four years later we are all being watched by even more cameras.  For some, this blinking, red dot provides a sense of security that someone is watching over their well being.  For others, this ample use of cameras provides them with the capability to satisfy their voyeuristic tendencies without being noticed by society.   

Webcams, a common feature on nearly every laptop purchased in the past couple years.  This tiny camera, when paired with the internet, has taken voyeurism to an entirely new level.  People have created websites that they use to stream live footage of themselves, being typed via a webcam, going about their daily routine.  The “stars” of the webcast are voluntarily giving up all of their privacy rights, by choosing to allow anyone in the world (with computer access) to watch their every move.   

Another even more widely talked about type of voyeurism is a form of entertainment that our society is obsessed with, reality TV.  Reality shows cover every topic from athletic and intellectual challenges, to dating, to make-overs, and many others in between.  Each of the broad categories branches out exponentially, thus there is something for every person’s interests.  This makes it one of the most popular television genres.  If one thinks about it, nearly everyone in our society is a voyeur looking in on these people’s lives.  These drama filled, fast paced shows have most Americans addicted to watching people struggle, change, and compete.

As our world and technology continues to advance the more privacy people lose.  Already we can’t leave our home without being caught on tape multiple times.  We have reached a point now where the majority of our day is filmed.  The 2007 movie, Look proves someone can track our daily movements from the cameras of every place we visit, and piece them back together, as if to turn our lives into a reality show for others to view.  This movie shows how frightening it is that technology can truly take away all privacy and turn us all into voyeurs.

Data Mining: Society’s Gift or Scourge?

Filed under: Uncategorized — publicandprivatespace @ 12:43 pm

By Tara Nagaraj

            One day, I was writing an email from my gmail account to my old flute teacher saying hello. I couldn’t help but notice that the advertisements on the side of my computer were miraculously about flute lessons, flute teachers, and flute stores. A few hours later I decided to get on Facebook, and I also noticed that when I went on Facebook that the advertisements on my profile page consisted of Jane Austen novel sales, Indian restaurant deals, and Coldplay promotions. These happen to be some of the things that I liked on my profile page. Even when I checked the mail, I found myself as the recipient of several catalogues for Banana Republic and Old Navy from which I made some online purchases during the holidays. One might wonder how these advertisements are so accurate. The answer is the process of data mining, and it’s becoming a profitable tool for advertising companies. However, much of the corporate data mining is unauthorized, which infringes upon the privacy of the public. There are not enough laws and regulations to limit the power of these data mining companies, thus businesses have unrestricted access to very important personal information.

            Data mining is the process of analyzing and interpreting data from different outlooks and summarizing it into useful information (Palace, 1996). Data mining analysis is not a new technique and has actually been around for a while. Its popularity really rose in the 1990’s when computer technology first really started to advance. Today, data mining has many uses in industries besides in business. The government uses data mining to enforce national security by looking at suspicious online activity and connect it to terrorism suspects. In medical treatments, data mining has been used to make sense of the different DNA sequences in the Human Genome Project (Ting, 2003). While these are effective, corporate data mining has raised some controversy as of late. Much of data mining occurs without the consumer’s knowledge. Thus, they are not giving their permission for companies to use their data and sell to other corporations. This has led consumers to believe that they have absolutely no control over their data or privacy (Brankovic, 1999).

            The fact that many have felt that they have no online privacy may be a bit of an exaggeration, but not too far from the truth. Important information such as health records, bank account data, social security number, and home address can be easily found through data mining (Clifton, 2002). This makes it simple for criminal activity such as identity theft to occur. The main issue is that people don’t really know how much of their information is private. Since most databases are not secure, people are afraid that all internet activity is being monitored all the time. Instead of Big Brother watching the public, Big Business is watching the public. Since most of the American public store important information on computers, it is easy prey for data mining analysts. People are often ignorant of the fact that once personal information is found, it can be copied and used to find other people’s private information (Freuh, 2009). There are no specific boundaries to data mining at all.

            However, is data mining really as dangerous as we make it out to be? That is a heavily debated topic. Russel Glass, CEO of the data mining company Bizo defends data mining saying, “It’s the monster-under-the-bed syndrome,” Glass says. “People are afraid of what they really don’t understand. They don’t understand that companies like us have no idea who they are. And we really give a sh—. I just want a little information that will help me sell you an ad” (Stein, 2011). That may be true, but at some point as we as consumers must draw the line. Targeted advertisements are great, but sometimes, we need to have the comfort in knowing that our information is public only when we say it is. If consumers get to choose how much of their information can be accessible, then private data bases won’t be as heavily ransacked. Advertising companies may be using data mining with no malicious intent, but the data that they have collected could easily fall in the wrong hands and traced back to the person that it came from. In this case data mining can become a dangerous device. The public should be given the tools to protect their own information in order to reclaim back their privacy.

            Data mining is definitely a useful tool and can be beneficial if used correctly, so it shouldn’t be something that is seen as a completely negative device. If data mining is transformed so it doesn’t infringe upon consumer privacy but is still authorized, then both consumers and corporations can both benefit from the use of data mining. This can be achieved through three simple actions. The first thing is that consumers should know exactly how much of their information is gathered and used. Second, consumers should have the right to protect their own data base, therefore grant access to whoever they see as appropriate. Finally, data should only be used for authorized purposes (Huang, 1998). Through these methods, data mining can become a tool that benefits society as well as big business. People don’t have to be in a state of constant paranoia every time they get online.  After all, as actress Sarah Chalk from the popular comedy Scrubs said, “Human beings are not meant to lose their anonymity and privacy.” I feel this statement is completely true and reflects how important privacy is in an increasingly technology driven society.

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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