Confession: I’m a reality TV junkie if ever there was one. Survivor tops my list of personal favorites, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t look forward to every new season of The Bachelor, or Bachelorette as the case may be. I don’t know what has me hooked. I mean, I know in my head that the “love” the last two people left standing profess to have found will likely be about as lasting as a tube of toothpaste, so it’s not really the happy ending that gets me. Nor is it the cat fights that cog the flow of an otherwise harmonious (ha!) house full of buxom coeds, all competing for the eye of a single fella. I could do without the poolside make-out scenes, too. And when all of the above are ruled out, well, we’re pretty much left with a few long-stem roses and scattered, empty champagne bottles. Which, of course, brings us full circle with me left pondering what exactly it is about this show that I deem worthwhile.
I’ve given up a season before. The one with Ben, the winemaker. That was an especially catty season with language that I couldn’t overlook being thrown around too frequently. I gave it up after one especially trashy episode and I never looked back. But then along came Emily, a bachelorette I rather liked and I tuned right back in. At the conclusion of her season, I knew she’d chosen wrong. Sean was the clear choice, but had that happened we wouldn’t be watching him and his harem in the current season.
The other day, Jeff was telling me about this book he’s reading. He’s a big fan of sociology, especially as it relates to business and work life. He told me about an experiment conducted at NYU in which two groups of people were primed. That is, they were asked to read a list of words and then report to someone at a desk down the hall once they’d finished. The first group of people had a sprinkling of subliminal words on their lists that were positive and calming. Think along the lines of: yield, patient, appreciate, polite and courteous. The second group of people had a sprinkling of words with a negative connotation. Think: rude, bold, intrude, infringe, bother and disturb. At the conclusion of the test, the first group of people walked down the hall to find the person at the desk busy talking to another person. Some 82% of that first group of people waited a full ten minutes until the person behind the desk was no longer busy with someone else. But on average, the group of people who read the negative words interrupted the person behind the desk after about five minutes.
When Jeff told me about that study, it reminded me of a presentation I witnessed during the Re:Write 2012 conference I attended in San Diego last fall. Peter Strople began his presentation by projecting microscope-magnified images of water molecules that had crystallized. These images had been obtained after a Japanese researcher exposed music, words spoken, words typed, pictures and videos to water. See the results for yourself.
So what–exactly–does all this have to do with me giving up my guilty TV pleasure? It comes down to this: what you put into your mind, comes out in your life. Garbage in, garbage out. Not that I realistically fear that by watching The Bachelor I’ll decide to abandon my family in favor of lounging poolside in a string bikini whilst awaiting my date card. BUT. I do believe that language, values and ideas from reality-based sources (tv shows, song lyrics, newspaper articles) can seep into our subconscious and affect who we are at the core.
What will I sacrifice by saying sayonara to The Bachelor? Eh. A couple hours worth of mind-numbing entertainment. But what do I stand to gain from changing the channel–or, better yet, turning off the TV altogether? I don’t know, but based on those crystallized water molecules, I venture to guess it could be a beautiful thing.