Has society sunk to a new low?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 24, 2003

So many things have happened in the world the past few days, that I was completely overwhelmed with topics to discuss in this space.

On the local level, we've had the announced closing of the Opp Mill and extreme reduction in personnel at the Micolas Mill. I've addressed that situation numerous times in both stories and editorials. So I decided I wouldn't tackle that issue for the time being.

And then, there were several major decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court handed down recently that dealt with very sensitive issues.

The recent affirmative action ruling regarding the University of Michigan's admission policies - which could have implications on college admission policies across the country - well, that's one can of worms I don't want to get involved with just yet until I've had ample time to research it and talk with experts. This space is for my personal thoughts, but that's a topic that's too tough to tackle alone.

And then, well, there's the little matter of putting filters on computers in public libraries to block out pornography.

That's an issue which will be discussed this week in news stories, and I hope you all gain a little insight into what exactly the filters are for, and what it means about your freedoms. Is it censorship? Is it protecting our children? Is it necessary? Those are all questions we hope to address later this week, but to sum it up, what the court basically said is the federal government can require public libraries to place filters on their internet connections - or choose to lose their federal funding.

No, that's an issue best left to be discussed after the news stories have run.

Instead, I've decided I'll talk about just how low television networks have sunk to get ratings.

While watching the tube Monday night, I was surfing, looking for a little mindless humor, or a little something to ease my mind off the rigors of having such a serious job and attitude.

What I found was the Fox network. Long known for its low-brow humor and general tastelessness in programming, I figured "This is the perfect thing to relax to."

Boy, was I in for a shock.

The first program on the line-up was "Anything for Love," a new "reality" show that puts people in front of the camera, in front of a national audience, to beg "their true love" who doesn't know they have a secret admirer, to have a relationship with them.

Sounds like a way to make stalking legitimate to me.

After that, the "hit reality show of the summer - Paradise Hotel" came on. In this strong selection of quality programming, 11 total strangers are encouraged to "hook up" or get booted out of the hotel. If you don't hook up, you have the opportunity to break up one of the new "couples" with all the charms you possess. Isn't that wonderful?

What I'm trying to say is, have we, as a society, sunk to such a low that we are willing to stalk someone, on national television to profess our undying love for them and risk humiliation in front of millions of people? Or, are we so shallow that for money, we are willing to sleep with a total stranger just so we can have a nice hotel room and a little monetary gain?

I'll admit, I'm a fan of certain reality shows. The Amazing Race is my favorite - it's an around-the-world adventure where contestants have to use their brains, not their bodies to gain a prize. There's also an educational aspect to it. It doesn't, however, entail hooking up with a total stranger or backstabbing another team just to be named the winner.

But, that is not the norm in the latest batch of reality programming. No, instead, we're being encouraged to be promiscuous, cruel, and downright hateful - all for the chance to be called a winner.

And in the end, everyone's a loser.