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The Impact of Reality TV on Social Behavior

While watching TV on any given channel, on any given night, viewers will most likely stumble across several ongoing reality shows, or be exposed to commercials or lead-ins that are promoting them.  In order to promote these shows (Big Brother, Survivor, America’s Top Models, “Bachelor” something or other, etc…) channels “promote” the high impact moments.  I have lost count how many dramatic moments are encased in these commercials and promotions.  These moments will usually include someone tossing around a chair, two people getting into heated arguments, and the standard emotional release of sobbing or hysterical crying.  Are these shows displaying behavior that sets a poor example for people, especially youths to follow?  Yes!  Instead of having an adult disagreement, more people seem to have heightened disagreements or meltdowns that are straight out of these shows.  I, for one, have been fed up for a long time now.

This morning, while spending some idle time on the Internet, I came across a story of a woman that did not like how a specific employee was rude to her at Dunkin’ Donuts.  Apparently, she was not given a receipt from the previous night, which would entitle her to a free donut or something along those lines.  She decided to go back the following morning, engaged in a demeaning and profane filled tirade which was recorded the episode on her phone, which she posted on You Tube.  I suspect this is a simply exercise in self-promotion, a reflection of the “look at me” phenomena that is prevalent these days.  In this instance it was at the expense of a young employee simply doing their job.  The video (http://www.upi.com/Odd_News/Blog/2013/06/13/Dunkin-Donuts-employee-who-endured-customer-rant-to-be-recognized/1981371146282/) amounts to an eight minute tantrum, laced with profanities and the occasional racial slur.  It is not really worth watching, and I could only stand to skim over it here and there before the whole episode sickened me.

After giving the video some thought, and thoroughly enjoying the overwhelming support of the employee and the near one hundred percent vilification of this classless woman with very little character, I wonder if this is going to be the new norm.  Will people throw tantrums at work when they get a bad evaluation, or are asked to perform lesser desirable tasks?  When they are overlooked for a promotion, will they get into their supervisor’s face or throw the desk chair out the window?    When someone does not get their way, will they resort to this sort of irresponsible, childish behavior?  I often wonder the impact shows like Survivor or Big Brother will have on society.  These shows are shady at best, and most likely are scripted to a certain extent, but are being passed off as reality.

I like to read self-help articles and materials that will help me evolve as not only a professional in my career, but also as a human.  One common theme of many motivational and career oriented books and articles is the concept of personal branding.  Simply having a resume is no longer enough in the days of social media and information saturation.  People need to build themselves as their own brand, often requiring promotion on a resume, career site, social media, and all avenues of networking.  What people need to be aware of is that behavioral issues that are released into the digital world can and will be something used against these people.  For the woman in the video, her name is being associated with the video in ways she did not realize.  Hopefully she will spend time re-evaluating her actions and her attitudes.  As a hiring manager, if she was a candidate for an available job, after seeing the video and her actions, I would be sending her resume and application through the shredder.  Her actions should not be acceptable, even though someone may have been rude or did not perform their job to her satisfaction the previous night.  If she is angered or annoyed at someone being rude to her, why not take the high road and set an example of how people should treat each other.  Instead, she demeans and degrades someone and publishes it on You Tube and Facebook.  I, for one, am glad her actions have backfired.

Character will always be defined with actions, not words.  Although I may not get what I want or disagree with someone, I always try to handle it with class and dignity.  In the end, it will work in my favor, because whether or not my idea or opinion was not very good, I will have earned respect from my peers.  I do not need to be right all the time, nor should I get my way all the time.  I should, however, be respectful and act with good character.  People who act with good character and class will always be well respected.

The next time a shallow and demeaning reality TV show is on, change the channel or turn off the TV.  Just say no to reality TV and the negative impact it seems to be having on many people in today’s society.

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