Tuesday, September 13, 2005

reality (t.v.)

What is real on TV? Is it the latest reality show or the evening news? I would offer that neither represent reality. We all know that much in reality is scripted. That is a topic for another day. A very boring day. I would like to delve into why what you see on the news show not be accepted hook, line, and sinker as unvarnished reality.Why? Mainly because the concept "reality" is often interpreted to mean raw and unfiltered events. The truth, no matter where the chips fall. I would submit to you, humble reader, that reality in that conceptual definition does not exist. Think about it this way, three individuals witness a car wreck, not including the drivers. When police interview all parties and the witnesses, not a single interview will be exact; although the sequence of events and some facts may be similar across all interviews.

Why? Well, first of all- each participant witness the accident from a different perspective physically. The drivers from within their respective cars see the accident from a different place than witnesses who may have seen it from the street or another vehicle. Mentally and emotionally all participants view things from different places within themselves as well. Let's say one of the witnesses had been injured in a car wreck at a previous time. The memories and emotions of their own experience will color their perceptions of the current event. Such is the case with each individual. The facts and events are filtered through a person's past collective history, mental and emotional state, and unpronounced biases and ideas about how life should be. That's a mite wordy; suffice it to say- who you are affects how you see things. Simple really. So, while the fact that Driver A slammed into the back of Driver B at a stop light on a hill on a cold, rainy morning- that doesn't prevent from everyone throwing in their own two cents in the mix. That's why Sgt. Friday asks for "Just the facts, ma'am."

What does this have to do with T.V. ? It has been difficult to watch the "news" in the past few years, because it has been increasingly difficult to filter out the "facts" from the perspective. Cable and network news shows are among the worst offenders. What really gets my goat, if you will, is when the viewers use the perspectives from mass news reporting to back up their own views in everyday conversation or discussion. When you attempt to engage in a little rhetorical tete a tete with such an individual all hope is lost. Once you have run the 5 minutes of material that they have seen and processed, they have run out of safe havens. At that point, everything becomes survival in such discussions. Instead of entertaining the possibilities of other angles, they sputter into anecdotes, "Somebody told me" s, and wishful conjecture.

One must always account for their own filters, and the possibilities that they don't have the complete story as well. Conversational caveats must include the admission that we may not know everything if we weren't there, and that others who have provided us information may have colored things a bit. But please, please don't offer "they said on the news" as substantive proof of anything. Just take the filters into account and be careful as you watch the news. Remember that what you see is what you get... you just don't have to rely on it. Check out all the news stories across the spectrum of news: TV, radio, newspapers, and the internet. And then do what the police would do in the case of our hypothetical accident. Check out multiple sources, and then try and distinguish the facts and events from all the accounts. Once you have done that, then you can kindly return everyone's two cents. Tell 'em to keep the change.

i don't think there's one word that can describe a mans life.

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