We went to a Bachelor Viewing Party.
You know The Bachelor/ette. It’s a TV show that’s been on for years in the US and it is simultaneously cringeworthy and impossible to look away from. If you aren’t familiar, here’s the premise. Essentially, one good-looking and desirable person is dropped into a house with 25 desirable people of the opposite sex to find their one true love that they will one day marry. All of these people are in their 20s and look like models. This season it is a bachelor and so the 25 people are women. The women are all trying to win this man’s heart, and from what I can gather, they do this even if they aren’t into him.
I’ve never been into this show for multiple reasons. But our awesome friends use the show as an excuse to get together with their people every week in the winter months for socializing, good food, and a bit of guilty pleasure trashy tv.
And it is a perfect show for ripping on. It’s easy to find things to laugh at or be disgusted at and people were yelling good-naturedly at the tv for most of the 2-hour long episode. We even said a collective, “Awwwwww,” when the show ended without a rose ceremony (the part where the desirable #1 chooses who to send home).
Despite the fact that my viewing party knew that the show is heavily and masterfully edited, we still made extreme judgments on the women’s characters, looks, and morality.
At one point, people in our group were casting disbelieving statements towards a woman in the show who seemed close to panic at having to model clothes in a room full of people. She was clearly an introvert who was freaking out and there were a lot of, “Oh Please!”s and, “Come ON”s coming from the viewing party. It continued as the topic of conversation in the room floated effortlessly into who would turn “crazy.” Who had too much surgery, who was the fakest in looks and character? The producers of the show were taking us on a wild ride.
This gave Lisa and I pause. What were we doing even? Yelling at people in a TV show who are putting themselves out there for love at the price of our entertainment? Because after all, it’s all in good fun. After all, they signed up for that, right? What’s the harm in that right?
The harm, is the conditioning to move through the world in this way. We practice making snap judgments about people based on what has been heavily edited content touted as “reality”. We see this in Reality TV shows, in social media, in government itself and how the media portrays it. Our minds are so malleable and suggestible and easy to manipulate. We know the content we are watching and the “reality” we are hearing are heavily edited and yet we are still swayed by it.
For instance, when it comes to our show “The Bachelor,” we know that producers have literally sat down and planned out a story arc, we know they’ve handpicked the exact personalities they want, we know they’ve steered the actions of the participants, we know the events are heavily edited and in many cases, words are taken out of context, and that we are essentially watching an experiment designed to bring out the extremes in the human condition… and yet, we still make opinions, and very strong ones at that.
We literally can’t help it because that is how our brains work.
It’s all in good fun when it comes to shows like The Bachelor, but what are we doing really? What are we practicing? And how is that affecting us?
I can’t answer that question with any more than speculation and observation. But in my circle, the people I know, there is a clear delineation between those who seem to quickly draw conclusions about others and express those opinions and those that seem to avoid making snap judgments on people. The first group does seem more prone to consume suggestible content. This can be “guilty pleasure” shows like the bachelor, political media on either side, social media, and many others. The second group I could never imagine watching a show like “The Bachelor.”
It’s like a magnet. One type of person is pulled to it, the other type repelled by it. It’s hard to say if it’s Category One’s personality that draws them to that content or if it’s exposure to the content that brings that out in their personality. It’s possibly a mixture of both. I do believe that we can watch shows as guilty pleasures and not be influenced by them… but I also wonder if the influence, the suggestibility is part of the guilty pleasure. Some parts of us must want to feel these things; to laugh at people, judge them, hate on them, cheer against them.
It’s worth thinking about.
The good news is, we are our own best defense when it comes to manipulation and suggestion. Knowing that suggestable content is all around us, being able to call it what it is when it comes, and even acknowledging when we ourselves have been swayed is our best protection when it comes to forming opinions that are our own, not the one someone else is designing for us.
So what do you think? Is there a correlation here? Do you see these signs in your life or am I off my rocker?
I’d love to know your thoughts.