As my “about me” stated long ago, television is a distraction. A good one. Offering entertainment, fun, escapism and is often more enjoyably palatable than reality. Before social media it was the ultimate distraction.
A show that captures this notion is Big Brother, the final topic of this series. Debuting in 2000, Big Brother is a platform where young diverse strangers bond. A very artificial platform with little connection to reality and always under scrutiny and surveillance. It was the first Facebook.
It offered distraction for us and especially them; literally swapping their life for this fantastical fishbowl, they’re twisted away from their original focus of attention (the definition of distraction) and into this diversionary environment where any real-world issues were replaced with concerns regarding who to evict or who to kiss on national Tv. It’s like how our real-life priorities dramatically alter while on Facebook ; where the urgency is the amount of likes we get on photos, comments and whether our crush will poke back. Distraction is a dreamstate where the bigger life issues needn’t apply and the only concerns are the fun, gratifying stuff that hide the scary things but they’re sadly only ever that, distractions; mobile phone games you play during a high school class which are eventually turned off by the teacher that is life.
It was blogged here; http://ma.tt/2012/05/culture-of-distraction/ that we ‘re in a “culture of distraction”. Matt offers the valid sentiment that we can become addicted to distraction and that, like Aldous Huxley theorized in “Brave New World”, any culture overly fixated on self-gratification and trivial distractions will destroy itself. While I don’t necessarily agree with Huxley’s extreme hypothesis, I do agree with the rationality of Matt’s mentioning it. That we must find balance between the real and distraction because reality will always catch up and triumph. That despite more and more of us are constructing time according to our online or “distracted” lives and chipping away at the importance of clock time and real-life contemplation; distraction ends and soon real-life sets in.
This was tragic ally indicated in this year’s Big Brother series; the shock death of a housemate’s brother forced his understandable withdrawal from the show . Any fun, diversion that he found in there vanished in the face of the sad, real event that diversion can’t remove. Reality always wins-out over a distraction and leaves us with the hangover of the distraction; facing up to the ridicule over what you undertook in the Big Brother house that may result in job loss or unwanted infamy and the same extends sadly to social media too. There’re daily headlines of people facing negative consequences in reality for what they did while distracted online and it’s reality which inflicts the worse consequences and clearly it’s reality that you should try to please. Like the Robert Hassan lecture on the 16th of October stated; distraction may be caused by outside stimulus but it is the individual’s problem and the individual “needs to manage it”.
So there you have it; while no-one, not even Big Brother can tell us what to do and how to spend our time, we can only hope that as a collective whole we will allow time for fun and distraction but allow even just a little more effort and time toward are own realities and making the best of our lives we can. Distraction should always have some part in our lives though; whether television or social media or whatever, it’s there to be enjoyed, to offer a variety of means to enjoy ourselves and we should all enjoy it while we can. And thus the Television Code is cracked. 🙂