The other day on the radio, they were interviewing a psychologist who was talking about something called “porn creep.” I’ll spare you the details but essentially it refers to a condition in which people who spend an inordinate amount of time looking at pornographic material lose the ability to experience the real thing.
They actually interviewed twenty-somethings who basically said they were unable to have a normal sex life because they’d spent so much time interfacing, if you will, with their computer.
I took the risk of Googling the term to see if it was mainstream and, yes, it is. Not only do you lose the ability to function in the real world, in extreme cases, you need increasingly graphic stuff to, shall we say, pique your interest. The condition has been studied and there is even a cure for it, in case you are interested.
After that segment of the show was over, they had the news and then had extended commentary on a number of the news stories du jour.
As usually happens these days when I listen to the news or any analysis thereof, I shake my head and wonder what the hell is going on. It was the same old thing. Sanity and civility seem to have taken a permanent vacation; and people seem completely unable to listen, communicate and engage in civil discourse without recourse to name calling, or worse, lawyers.
I switched to the oldies music station.
But that night I figured out what the problem is.
We were out at an event where people didn’t know each other all that well. As a result, no one talked about anything controversial. The conversation stayed at the level of kids, pets and television. I’m not too well equipped to talk about any of those, but what interested me was the discussion of TV.
All they talked about were reality TV shows. Mostly cooking shows, but they also now have reality shows about house buying, house renovating, losing weight, cosmetic surgery, raising kids, driving trucks in bad weather and pre-pubescent beauty pageants. There is even a show where people bid on the junk in unclaimed storage lockers and hope it’s worth more than they paid for it.
The common denominator in all of these shows is a general lack of civility. Apparently what makes the shows so popular is that the contestants are constantly bad mouthing each other and generally being nasty. Cooperation and teamwork are generally considered signs of weakness. Winning is less about excelling and more about torpedoing the competition at all costs.
At some point that evening, all of those pieces sort of clicked together and I developed my new theory of why contemporary society is so uncivil—reality creep!
Just as the person who is over exposed to porn finds themself unable to function in the real world and requires ever greater stimuli, I’m thinking that people over exposed to “reality” via reality TV develop the same problem.
As reality TV becomes increasingly popular, the hyper individualistic, winning at all cost behaviour of the people appearing in reality TV shows becomes the norm. So every discourse or discussion has to have a winner. Compromising is for losers.
There’s supposed to be a cure for porn creep. Let’s hope they can find one for reality creep!
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