Battling a New Kind of Voyeurism

A New Kind of Voyeurism


    When I tried to find out the latest news about the uprisings in Syria or the brewing civil war in Southern Sudan or whether the raging wildfire consuming the State of Arizona might cross state borders, I first had to sift through the latest Twitter photos of a partially clothed congressman and the details of a prenuptial agreement between a basketball star and his reality show fiancé. Is something wrong with this picture? Is it telling us something very revealing about our own life?

   OK, I admit. On my way to learning about the conflicts of the Middle East and Africa, I did get sucked into reading some tabloid trash. It is everywhere. It is in our face every day and all day. People who never wrote a book or sang a song or built a business or hammered a nail have become celebrities by allowing themselves to be the subjects of today’s new voyeurism.

   Disgraced C-grade actors and other bad boys and girls become the media standard. Our desire to know about the condition of their jail cell, if they are reconciling with their ‘adultering’ boyfriend or who picked them up after their probation hearing trumps our priorities and steals large parts of our day.

  The characters we follow can start a Facebook page or Twitter account and immediately gain thousands of friends and followers anxious for new tidbits of life trash. Maids and mistresses have also been in the news lately. More people now know the salacious details of a former governor’s housekeeper’s life than know anything about the looming U.S. debt default.

   Perhaps the reason we feed off watching the personal lives and following the Twitter accounts of others is because we have lost our own direction. Our lives are a mess too, but maybe we gain some release by peering into another’s breakdown and shame. We must all take an assessment as individuals and as a collective society of how we are becoming degraded by our tabloid voyeurism. God gave us this day. He gave us new breath and life. And regardless of our own challenges, sorrows, poor finances or failing health we have too much to live for than to waste it on the next ‘gotcha-episode’.

   A lot of what we feed upon is the failed human condition – addictions, adultery, lust, hedonism, pride, greed, anger or revenge. Today let’s resolve to pray for the fallen, lift up the shamed, and improve our own life condition by way of positive action and by confronting our own demons with new faith in a merciful and loving God.

   We can do it. We can conquer our voyeuristic tendencies and overcome our need to reward reality celebrity. Life is too short and too precious for us to waste any more time. People will continue to fail, and the success and demise of others will always be ready-made entertainment. But let us become part of a more edifying force for good and make the world better and brighter through changing our own realities instead of watching the realities of others. Good luck and Godspeed!