Our Walk In The World: To Participate in Reality

Mark Nepo

In February, Mark Nepo will be speaking at Western Michigan University. See MarkNepo.com for details.

Today, reality shows, which have little to do with reality, serve as a collective tranquilizer. Under the guise of being participatory, they seduce viewers into thinking that they have actually taken an action in a community by voting for contestants. In fact, viewers are still isolated and longing for connection, while the shows reinforce self-interest motivated by scarcity and fear. Viewers fantasize about being on the shows and winning, rather than face the lives that are truly theirs to live. Shows like Survivor, The Apprentice, and Fear Factor, to name a few, define success as the ability to outwit, outperform, out-stomach, and out-bully others in order to secure money and celebrity. In The Apprentice, success is determined by appeasing a patriarchal authority at all costs. Survivor is a romanticized training ground for the winner-take-all mentality that informs the most ruthless kind of leadership. There, voting among rivals for who stays on the show is a test of duplicity and betrayal. Fear Factor titillates viewers with a vicarious glimpse of people mustering the nerve to perform terrifying act …

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Mark Nepo moved and inspired readers and seekers all over the world with his No. 1 New York...

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