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Thread: Is there anything less primal than reality TV? page

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    mdlaw's Avatar
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    Is there anything less primal than reality TV?

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    New roommate moved in, and big, surprise, she kills time by watching Real Housewives type shows, just as the old one did. I'm 25 and it's amazing and baffling to me how popular these shows are within my generation, and I truly don't understand. This might sound like a stretch, but I wonder if reality TV is a mental/social parallel of high fructose corn syrup.

    If you take the primal prism and examine all of modern culture, not just the CW diet, you have to look at things from the point of view of us as tribal hunter gatherers. The perverse allure of sugary foods makes sense when you think of some Groks coming across a rare seasonal patch of berries or honey, and getting as much as that unique nutrient profile as you can as it'll be until next year before it comes around again. However, things like candy and soda refine the instinctual appeal of such foods, the sweetness, and strip out all of the nutrition, leaving a tempting but ultimately useless and even destructive food. The same sense of taste that provided an advantage to hunter gatherers literally tricks and undermines us in a 21st century world of refined abundance. Ok, so that's not controversial (at least on here) so far.

    I think reality TV is the exact same thing, only with emotional interpersonal moments instead of sweetness. A hunter gatherer tribe has to be close knit and cohesive. When there are serious moments of interpersonal conflict, or even powerfully emotional positive moments like betrothals and births, we have an instinctual attraction and fascination, as these moments are often much more critical to the survival of the group than the mundane daily activities. Just like a desire for sweetness would draw Groks to rare and nutritionally valuable foods like berries but would lead to obesity in a world of sugary foods, I think a gravitation towards drama had an originally important adaptive advantage, but now just leads to people wasting their time watching spoiled and emotionally crippled people scream at each other on camera.

    It's easy to imagine that, in a small and intimate tribe, everyone would become instantly and intently aware of a serious conflict between other tribe members, because quickly noticing and resolving conflicts would be critical to keeping the group together. Likewise, in a tribal context, members who felt a positive fascination when others fell in love or had children or otherwise had positive emotional experiences would encourage more of that behavior, and thus the survival of the group. Now, however, people can have those third party emotional experiences on demand and stripped of their natural value to the "tribe" by watching reality tv, complete with its screaming bimbos and vacantly confident pretty boys. The drama draws attention, but it provides none of the benefits that would have come with quick attention to interpersonal moments in a tribal setting.

    I wonder even if there is more of a negative effect to this than mere time wasting, just as there is more of a negative effect to sugary foods than simple over eating. Admittedly this is anecdotal, but my old roommate literally spent all of her time in her room watching reality TV shows like Real Housewives, the Bachelor/ette, etc. She also injected an absurd level of drama into all of her activities... I could hear here screaming at people on the phone several times a week, and when she got into a small conflict with our other roommate, she quickly escalated it into the most embarrassing display of melodramatic juvenile behavior I have ever seen from an "adult." Maybe she had "drama resistance"?


    Anyway, I'd love to hear the thoughts of others on this, even those among us who enjoy this genre. I think this is the most rewarding aspect of the Primal Blueprint- it expanded my perspective to understand what we truly are as human beings, and what it might mean to be such a creature in a modern world that is not necessarily designed for us, nor us for it. I recently ran into a good friend's sister, who asked if I ever thought about studying a different subject. After reflecting a bit, I think there would be nothing more fascinating than studying social psychology from an evolutionary perspective.

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    avocado's Avatar
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    I can't comment on why reality shows are popular because I completely do not get it. They are so unpleasant. I mean, people are different. I get that. I can "understand" a lot of things that I don't believe or that I don't feel. But I just cannot understand how these shows are anything but unpleasant.

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    I also can't stand watching reality shows, however, my mom watches them way too much. The few times I've asked her how she could possibly enjoy such shows, shes said that after working all day, she doesn't want to think anymore. I think this is the case with most tv though, people want someone to fill their head with ideas and don't want to spend time with their own thoughts, possibly because their own thoughts might cause them to find fault with themselves and they want to avoid that. It does make a lot of sense though how seeing excessive drama on tv would lead people to be overly dramatic in real life, something that is probably not good. I used to watch a ton of Survivorman and Man vs. Wild and it changed how I acted in real life, but in a positive way, at least in my opinion. lol Other people probably thought I was some crazy survivalist.

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    mdlaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by avocado View Post
    I can't comment on why reality shows are popular because I completely do not get it. They are so unpleasant. I mean, people are different. I get that. I can "understand" a lot of things that I don't believe or that I don't feel. But I just cannot understand how these shows are anything but unpleasant.
    Yea, I feel the same way. I simply don't understand the attraction, even as a guilty pleasure. Oh well.

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    It's an interesting way of looking at it, and I think there is a lot of truth to this hypothesis. There's all kinds of weird medical stuff that goes on with positive social relationships. I seem to recall a study that was done with three people. Person 1 would do something nice for Person 2, and Person 3 would simply observe. The interesting part was that all three people had a boost to their immune system.

    It makes sense that when in Dunbar Number-sized tribes, everyone would be in each other's business, and it would be beneficial to the group to keep those relationships as positive as possible.

    Food for thought!

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    strom's Avatar
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    I prefer B movies, horror, I like good stories, "bad acting", creatures and original ideas. Psychological horror is the best but they don't do that much anymore.

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    Many people today can't follow a story line. Even a TV show about detectives, cowboys, or whatever with a story to it throws them. I think it is a problem of the age---related to many things--diet, education, computer screens instead of books. Reality shows have nothing to remember from scene to scene to allow things to make sense. It is just NOW.

    John Gatto warned us of the trends in education over twenty years ago. His book, "Dumbing Us Down" , though decades old is still a more than worthwhile read today.

    Reality shows are where it took us. To see something about a 'reality show' and drugged world, read "Brave New World", another old book that predicted just where we are today.

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    Here is something I wrote about a year ago on another forum, kind of fits here

    TV in real life

    When I was growing up (and I’m dating myself here), we watched shows like Andy Griffith, Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best. While you knew that these shows were embellished a bit to make them funny and/or to make a point, you still felt like these shows were a snapshot into home life in general in the USA. Beaver’s dad worked during the day, was home at night. June took care of the house and met dad at the door when he got home, supper ready.

    So while we were watching comedy or drama on TV, it felt like we were watching a bit of American life. TV shows were produced to satisfy the taste of the American public.

    Flash forward to today. Look at what is on TV. Reality TV shows, drama with abuse in families, comedy with all kinds of shit going on. TV shows have become mindless entertainment. There are no values displayed in TV shows except for bad values. Only TV worth watching for me is Discovery Channel, History Channel, etc. TV shows and movies have become nothing more than commercials in that they are full of product placement.
    Think about it. How long has it been since you have seen a TV show that has a “normal” family living a “Normal life”?

    I pondered the question above and then I realized, TV is still the same. What we watch on TV is what seems to have become the norm. TV is producing what the public wants. If it wasn’t what people wanted, the TV shows would be trashed.

    Nope. TV does still reflect day to day life in the USA. It still produces shows that people want to watch. The shit on TV reflects the shit, and shit for brains mentality in America.

    How depressing.
    Randal
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    On the one hand, I totally agree - only things I ever watch are college football, basketball, The Daily Show and the Colbert Report. On the other hand, TV has always been pretty brainless over all. You are comparing the best of the old with the worst of the new, forgetting all those brainless variety shows, etc. that used to fill the air and also forgetting "smart" shows like The Wire or Big Love, etc.
    I would also submit that our merciless overuse of the internet as TV replacement isn't making us any smarter - though it is more "active" entertainment it contributes to an ADD-like inability to focus for long periods.

  10. #10
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    I'm not much of a TV person anyway, but reality shows in particular are a real turn off.

    I like to relax in front of the TV occasionally when I need to unwind, but I watch the SyFy channel, History Channel, and the Discovery Channel mostly.
    "For animals, the entire universe has been neatly divided into things to (a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from, and (d) rocks." - Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

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