Big news on the web today...MTV's 'reality' show The Hills was apparently faked!?! (Gasp) Really? It was fake? Who would have ever guessed that this wasn't truly a long-running peek-through-the-windows of overindulged twenty-somethings REAL lives? Shocking...
A generation of viewers all over America are broken hearted as the true reality begins to set in. You were duped (i.e. lied to). You invested far to much time watching a soap opera disguised as real life. You invested your time, energy and emotion into a music network's attempt to brainwash you into believing that people really live like that and you should want to, too.
Here is the real story...none of this stuff is honest-and-truly real life. It's all staged to a certain degree to keep you watching.
So why should anyone really care about whether or not young folks think these shows are real?
Honestly, I'm convinced the nonsense they are bombarded with is negatively affecting their outlook on life, creating a sense of entitlement and, in the end, destroying their work-ethic and ability to build long-term healthy relationships.
Now don't get me wrong. My generation watched TV growing up too. The difference was we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Professor couldn't build a radio out of a palm tree and Maryann couldn't really make cream pies with just coconuts. We were also very aware that Steve Austin could not outrun a speeding Amtrak train on foot. It was only entertainment. Silly, fun and fake.
So other than the fact that we spent far too much time in front of the TV, we weren't living under delusions of someday becoming part of Starfleet. (Well, except for those guys that go to conventions dressed up as Klingons).
I'm not so sure about the current generation of young adults though. They are so overexposed to 'reality' TV they may not recognize that most people do not have Sweet 16 parties on cruise ships or spend $12,000.00 on a wedding dress. Certainly there are a few people who do, but this is not mainstream America.
When you add this type of skewed perception of real life to the propensity to live ones own life primarily through Facebook, texting and online forums, you can easily begin to see how civilized society could fall-off-a-cliff if something doesn't change soon.
This skewed sense of reality is already pretty apparent in the up-and-coming workforce. Many (albeit not all) younger employees have a very different work ethic than the previous generation. There is absolutely a 9 to 5 mentality out there. I've heard many of them say straight up that they don't intend to work as hard as their parents did.
(I do see exceptions to this mindset among the Chamber's Young Professionals Organization. This seems to be a group of newer entrants to the workforce who are trying hard to model their careers after the successful role models of our community. Cheers to them.)
Far too many others however, seem to think us ol' geezers work long hours, nights and weekends for no good reason, at the expense of our personal happiness. Nope. We do that because we know you can't stand out, get ahead and build a successful career by doing 'the minimum'. We also know that there is a significant amount of personal happiness that can be derived from a job done well. That's the good message that gets lost in most 'reality' TV offerings.
But let's be hopeful. Maybe this new economy has one saving grace...the younger work force will have to 'get real' about what it takes to become truly successful.
And just maybe, MTV did us all a favor last night by 'fessing up, revealing the reality of 'reality' TV...almost none of it is real at all.