Spectator Society

We live in a society of spectators. Most people would rather watch someone do what they dream of doing than to take the hard work and ambition of actually doing it themselves.
Think of how many hours the average person spends watching TV. I’ve heard estimates as high as six hours a day though I doubt that quite possible if you have a full time job. Regardless, we spend countless hours watching someone else’s story and life events play out in front of us. Often we watch it because perhaps it allows us to live a life we think we could never live. We immediately limit our possibilities by allowing these people on the screen to be put in a separate reality dividing the possible (our mundane lives) from the seemingly impossible (their supposed excitement filled ones).
This creates two problems. First it limits how much we tap into our potential. We see these people on the screen and think we could never have that lifestyle or that amount of success. Second it causes us to view the “good life” as a false reality. We begin to think that the lifestyles presented on the screen truly are the pinnacles of human existence. These people are really living life to the fullest. If only we could be like them, life would be perfect.
Of course this is only an allusion. While spectating we are hypnotized into thinking what the producers want us to think, that our life is somehow not complete unless we live it vicariously through these actors. Thus we fall prey to their trap, created solely for their profit.
This evening I witness a remarkable phenomenon. I would guess there were about 500 people waiting outside Game-Stop to make a purchase. Judging by the signs and my limited knowledge of the video game market, they were out (at midnight on a cold night I might add) to purchase Call of Duty. I would guess the majority of them will spend the entire night playing their new game and perhaps even skip classes or work to continue into the next day (or recover from lack of sleep).
Or consider sports. How many hours do we spend watching other people perfect athletic maneuvers to outsmart an opponent while we sit in the comfort of our living room? While we may cheer when the opposing team is beaten the real losers are ourselves. Why? Playing a sport and being good at it is far more rewarding than watching. And way more profitable too. It is far more rewarding to be striving for any honorable goal of excellence than to be simply watching others do it from the ease of our living room furniture.
Here’s my challenge for you this week:
Turn off the TV.
Purposely skip your favorite TV show.
For every hour you spend watching sports spend two enjoying rigorous activity.
If you want to spectate, go out into the real world and see what real people do (that is if you can find any who aren’t spectating themselves).

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