An Abyss in Motion

[1] I am both anti-social and introverted.

What I am not is shy, and I think this makes for an odd combination that other people find hard to understand. Sometimes I think I’m probably a high-functioning sociopath. I have very little brain-to-mouth filter in social situations, and although I can be charming when I have to be, I’m usually the first one to make a lewd joke or to say something completely off-the-wall.

It’s not disingenuous. I’m not faking a persona. I take very few things seriously, and irreverence makes life interesting sometimes. It’s just that if you want superficial, I’ll give you superficial.

One of the reasons why I have a hard time with social interaction is because I very rarely experience it as genuine. People are rarely interested in who you are.

You see people, you size them up, you judge them, you categorize them, you determine what you want from them and whether or not you think you can get it.

That’s just how people are. It’s what we do. It’s what I do. Most of the time we use people as means, and that’s okay. I’ve grown accustomed to my students staring blankly at me waiting for me to convey information. To cashiers trying to hurry me along and looking right through me. To being seen as nothing but a gender. To being leered at and objectified.

All of these interactions are the same.

It’s all a performance.

It’s all surface.

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When "Reality" Gets Real

My Problem with “reality” television is that most shows seem to lack “self”-awareness.

What do I mean?

“Time Out!”

Some of my favorite sit-coms growing up were those in which the characters occasionally made reference to the fact that they were on a television show. Sometimes on the Fresh Prince, Will Smith would talk to the camera. Sometimes Zack Morris would stop time on Saved by the Bell. I appreciate the subtle acknowledgment made by a television show or a movie that it knows it’s being made for entertainment, because there’s nothing worse than something ridiculous (which the entertainment industry is) taking itself too seriously.

I never watched The Real World, but I have read Chuck Klosterman. He once wrote an essay[1] in which he discussed the fact that during Season 3, Puck was acutely aware that he was on a television show where everyone else pretended that the cameras weren’t there. The producers didn’t like it, which is unfortunate, albeit expected, because the only thing real about The Real World is the cameras.

I know the point of “reality” shows is to fuel our voyeuristic tendencies. But, to pretend that locking people in a house or deserting them on an island and making them play ridiculous games in order to win cash prizes is “real”? Well, it doesn’t fool me. The people who go on these shows want to be famous. They are caricatures, not authentically acting individuals.

Reality competition/game shows are almost worse, because they feed the delusion that being famous or recognizable is important. No one really goes on the Bachelor to find true love. Shows that require actual talent are a bit more tolerable, but you still get the feeling that the contestants were chosen based on looks and persona and not their talent.

“You are a powerful and attractive man.”

One of the only “reality” shows I enjoy is Gene Simmons Family Jewels, because it doesn’t try to be completely real. I have no doubt that the personalities displayed by the Simmons’ family are real, but the situations are sometimes contrived.

I like that.

I don’t like feeling duped.

Anyway, I don’t need to watch “reality,” I live it.


[1] “What Happens When People Stop Being Polite” in Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, (pp.26-40).