Sunday, July 28, 2013

Riveting Reality

by Leann

There was a time when "reality TV" came on the scene and I was hooked. One of my degrees is in behavioral science and my classes in social psychology were among my favorites. Reality TV, in the beginning, was basically a social psychology experiment--social psychology being the study of humans as they behave within their society. But apparently if you experiment in front of millions of people in a capitalistic society, it's not really an experiment. It's just scantily clad people on an island in the Pacific eating grubs and berries.

Back in the 60's and 70's, researchers in the field got in big trouble for
their human testing. One experiment that drew great controversy was where "subjects" were shocked by other "subjects" to see how far the person doing the shocking would go. Another one that caused serious debate and led to new rules in how we experiment with human subjects was the Stanford Prison Experiment. College students were recruited to be either prisoners or prison guards. The results were disturbing in that the "guards"--supposedly normal, everyday young people--became more and more brutal as time wore on, proving that "Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely." I don't even
remember what the hypothesis was in either case, but I know they had to shut the Stanford study down after just 6 days. Both "prisoners" and "guards" were profoundly affected.

I no longer watch much reality TV aside from singing or dance competitions. "Real" housewives pulling each other's hair or a child who might near serious therapy in the future or a man who has a bunch of women living with him and lots and lots and lots of children just doesn't appeal to me. I'm not sure this is the reality I know. Or care to know. The older I get, the more fiction draws me in.

But two news stories--and hasn't twenty-four news created it's own alternate reality?--did hold my interest this summer. The Zimmerman trial (which I watched WITHOUT commentary, just listened to the case as it presented in court) and the royal baby. I won't comment on Zimmerman. But these fantastic, relate-able royals? First, Kate with her post-partum body for all the world to see and her saying without having to speak that "this is what a woman looks like after she has given birth and it's beautiful!" And Wills doing so many things wrong with that baby car seat like we've ALL done because let's face it--you need a manufacturer's rep with you when you try to get that thing done right the first few times. These are normal, young, happy, lovely people. And that's the kind of reality I'll take every time.

No surprise I write fiction and I love happy endings! What's your reality this summer?