Nasty comments, backstabbing, fighting and humiliation - and everyone's mandatorily dipped in chocolate coloured fake tan; reality TV has become a one-stop-shop for despicable behaviour.
Watching such shows was certainly not how I wanted to spend my weekend, but then I found myself in the hospital with a TV that was set to one channel to which everyone was glued. So through hospital 'captivity' I ended up watching A LOT of reality TV, about 40 hours to be exact, and here are the lessons it taught me:
1. Take chances, even against the odds:
We're schooled to be cautious, not to take risks and instead to carefully weigh things up before moving forward, but sometimes we can live so cautiously that we're not living at all. Seeing others bravely take a leap of fate in Biggest Loser or The X-Factor can give us the courage to follow suit.
2. Grasp fear like a nettle:
The one thing that stops most of us from chasing big dreams is fear of failure, of falling on our butts and people pointing and laughing at us. But sometimes if we manage to untangle ourselves from fear we're able to find enough bravery to pursue big goals.
On one reality show I watched an obese woman as she stood before hundreds of thousands of TV viewers, wearing nothing but tight spandex shorts and a sports bra, while she was weighed. I thought to myself - now that's bravery. She wanted to achieve weight loss so she'd be healthier and to ensure she would be around to see her children grow up.
Her voice trembled as she spoke about her kids. And I'm quite positive no one pointed and laughed at her, at least not in the room I was in, instead there was a sense of comradeship - we immediately became this woman's cheerleaders and supporters, willing her to reach her goal and privately wondering if we'd ever have this type of courage.
3. Learn to accept criticism graciously:
Competition based reality TV usually incorporates a panel of judges or experts who give their opinions, comments and criticism; sometimes it's brutal and sometimes it's constructive. Either way, the contestants are certainly taught humility and how to accept criticism with dignity and strength.
Though most of us will never stand in front of a panel of experts our work is certainly evaluated by those in our industry who are higher up or more experienced. You may not always agree or like your boss's criticism, but just like the reality show contestants, you have to respect that s/he is in that position because they earned it; you have to remain open to criticism in order to grow and to be a team player, otherwise you'll end up looking like those reality show contestants who are defensive and brat-like, and we all know how we feel about them.
Reality TV is an unlikely teacher but some content can inspire and thankfully for the majority of us, the pursuit of our dreams isn't in front of hundreds of thousands of TV viewers.