When it comes to reality TV, some might say it seems staged, unreal, and scripted. Well, I can tell you, there’s nothing scripted about finding out what people think about you when you watch a new episode for the first time.
The major difference between real life and reality TV is that in real life, what someone thinks about you either never gets back to you, or it takes a while—it’s part of a social process that takes time and many leaky sources. On reality TV, you find out fast—and it’s brutal, and there are no holds barred.
It must be something about sitting in front of that camera alone that makes people feel safe, seemingly disregarding year after year that what they say there is not private, and in fact, what they say in these confessional type interviews is largely what drives most of the storyline for viewers. As you watch these individual moments, imagine what it would be like if you could watch a reel of the people in your own life in the same format. What would they be saying about you? Would you care? Would it matter? Would they be doing it just to hurt you, or is there a common theme among them that might suggest you have some things to work on?
No matter what, whether there’s ever a confessional about you, don’t you want your friends to be truthful to your face, and loyal to the end? Being truthful is part of being loyal, but being loyal means standing by your friends through thick and thin. Loyalty means many things to many people, but to most, it is at least in part about being the kind of person whose love of friends and family does not change no matter what else in life does change. With or without money or fame, and with or without status and “hip factor,” loyalty should always be there. Loyalty is not meant to be an afterthought, but the tool that navigates us through stormy seas. If you’re loyal, alliances are obvious, and choices become very easy to make.
How I am portrayed this week is a great example of how easy it is for opinions and loyalties to be changed. Many may think I had a good episode because they see me praying for my wife and spending time with my children—not a bad depiction at all. But what will the flip-floppers think of me next week when I’m not there, or if for example, they see me tell my wife she’s talking too loud without seeing us laughing about it later? The fact is, Alexis’ hearing was affected by having the twins, and she has asked me let her know when she is talking too loud. But you won’t hear anything about that unless you’re reading my blog.
Many viewers have been conditioned to accept what they see on TV as reality, as it occurred; it’s a little sad and kind of scary to me how easily some viewers will just accept the subtly hidden opinion—don’t be fooled, the camera itself is a character on this show, and it has its agenda and is often a narrator as well. Loyalties become extra fickle when there’s a third party helping viewers decide what to think.
How people on reality TV treat one another changes every episode. How can this be? Even the most fair-weather friends I have had didn’t change their opinions and feelings that often in real life. How cast mates regard each other in their private interviews changes more than the weather—and what’s worse, some of the audience watching the show changes their opinion of someone based on what their favorite cast mate on the show says.
From one week to the next, the audience loves you, hates you, then loves you again—it’s a merry-go-round, but the nauseating part is how easily some change their opinions of people they don’t even know based on tidbits of secondhand opinions from a third party. Where is the loyalty—both on the show and in life? I understand that this is meant for entertainment, but when I read tweets about reality TV personalities, some of the criticism is so sharp and hateful is boggles the mind.
Imagine, a mother of two from Wisconsin tweeting, “You’re a loser I hate you, you should kill yourself” Then, two weeks later, the same person tweeting about the same celebrity tweets, “Loved your makeup this episode! where’d you get that lipgloss? Plz follow me I’m a fan!” What was it that got under her skin so deeply that she became motivated enough to say something so incredibly awful? Then she pivots faster than a weathervane in a tornado—what the heck is this based on? If people in your life are this fickle, get rid of them. There’s no time to try and figure out why you can’t please 2% of people—so focus on the 98% you can and worry about them. I for one am not naïve enough to believe people aren’t talking negatively about me, but I also know there’s no percentage in lending too much credence to the opinions of people who have never met me, and never will.
I’ve greatly appreciated the wonderful comments people have made about getting to know me through this blog–all of the constructive comments and compliments I have gotten have been enlightening and heartwarming. But it’s funny how a few of the comments seem like double-edged swords. Some comments have said, wow, I hated Jim, thought he was a loser, I believed what other people said about him, and now I love Jim! Faithful fans of the show can now see the real me, and it’s been a reality check for us both.
For the first time ever, I decided to put myself on display for anyone who would like to read this blog. Before that, I should have been a mystery, not someone anybody hated—think about the reasons people hated me: Because they BELIEVED INFORMATION FROM TV OR THE INTERNET WITHOUT VETTING IT. It wasn’t because any of the viewers had dealt with me personally and had a bad experience with me. Instead, many people didn’t like me because of how I looked on the show from one week to the next. This is testimony to how fans are driven from one side to another based on where they feel their loyalties should lie. The truth is, as I have stated in previous blogs, many of the people on reality TV have allegiance to one thing: MONEY—their judgment is based on that loyalty, but it doesn’t mean viewers has to be too.
So while I am ever grateful that I’ve gained new fans, it makes me wonder—if I were to stop blogging and go back to filming more, would opinions of me waffle right back to where they were? My thought is that we should not judge someone week-by-week or episode-by-episode, but by the content of their character that has been revealed consistently over a long period of time.
There’s nothing wrong with a little healthy skepticism when it comes to believing what we see on TV and read on the Internet. Don’t buy into the latest hate fest—or hug fest either. Sometimes there’s no way for any of us to know what’s going on in the hearts and minds of others, but I think it’s safe to say that swapping allies midstream and shifting your nationally-known opinion of a former friend is a sign priorities may not be where they should be.
Loyalty is nine-tenths of the law—Alexis and I are not interested in bandwagon friends, and you shouldn’t be either.
Just keepin’ it real,