Life is not a T.V. Show

Try this: tell your friend that some random girl you used to know slept with two guys in one weekend. What is their response? Now tell them that one of them was her boyfriend, and the other guy was just a means to get over her boyfriend after he broke up with her. Is their response any different, barring a little extra sympathy? I doubt it.

It seems like these days, movies and TV shows are becoming mainstream to the extent that the messages they convey – even the most trivial ones – are becoming the norm. Somehow, in the last I don’t know how many years, people have gone from being shocked by some things they see on television, to becoming desensitized and casually discussing those same things, to implementing the way people handle situations on television into real life. Perhaps it’s because there is no more novelty in the industry — when was the last time you watched an original show which was at least somewhat unpredictable, or didn’t have any stereotypical characters? The lack of novelty seems to have transferred those fictional values into reality, only because they’re illustrated over and over again with every new show. I’d like to blame drama shows (Gossip Girl, 90210) for this, but I think that reality television took it a step further by portraying crazy ass otherwise improbable and extremely unlikely scenarios as something normal (yes, I’m looking at you, Snooki’s and L. C.’s of the world). It’s difficult to remember that what happens on screen is carefully edited and even scripted to give the audience a juicy, scandalous story. It’s easy to immerse yourself into such shows and come out thinking that what you just saw is something that happens in everyday life. But it doesn’t. And I feel like it’s hurting our society to treat such events as normal.

Now, going back to the scenario I mentioned at the beginning. The most common responses I’d expect from any of my friends is either “why?” or “wow, what a slut” or “wow, she gets around”. They’re not gonna take her feelings into consideration. They’re not gonna look at the situation as a whole. The people who respond with “why” are few and far between, but even after explaining that her boyfriend just broke up with her, they’re not likely to form the most positive impression of her. But that’s understandable to a degree – people work with whatever information is most easily and readily accessible, and when a random person is involved, they are not going to make the effort to find out more about the situation before forming a snap judgment. However, what bothers me is the way they treat this information. Everyone who has been through a break up knows how hard it can be to be rejected. It’s not a rejection of your skill set, such as a rejection from a job, but it’s a rejection of who you are, of your essence. It hurts. Moreover, intimacy is another aspect of life that a lot of people are familiar with. Intimacy and rejection are integral parts of the human experience which, more often than not, put us in a very vulnerable place. But why is it that when we hear of something like that scenario, we treat it as if it’s just a plot in a story? Why aren’t we more sympathetic, more considerate? Why do we joke about “that slut” as if it were no big deal?

It seems to me that we’ve become so used to discussing plots of movies and shows that we’ve now evolved to offhandedly doing the same for people we know (and love). It’s tragic. It’s heartbreaking how susceptible we are to treating people like a means to a punchline, or their lives as our own personal TV show. Life is not a TV show, and it’s time we stop treating it as such.

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