In 2015 my living situation changed and I found myself again frequently exposed to television. Sometimes after work I would be in the living room relaxing with others in the house who were watching television. It was then that I noticed a very bizarre aspect of the programming. Every show that was on seemed to be the exact same show but with different "themes" and all were conveying the exact same message: survival means eliminating others.
These shows were constructed using the exact same formula. The show starts with a group of people who are competing to be the "best" whatever. Every week the shows' judges eliminate whichever contestant fails and they are sent home, narrowing the remaining group of possible winners until the remaining person is deemed the best.
Most of these shows incorporate "introductions" or "interviews" in which the contestants talk about difficult or tragic events in their lives that make winning this contest crucial to their overall life after the show.
The shocking part was the sheer number of shows produced with this same exact pattern. Immediately it took on the feeling of a massive brain-washing operation. The initial concept one might argue could simply have been the successful marketing of a popular type of show. But the huge percentage of shows that shared this exact model, and the absolutely absurd themes that existed as a result of the endless reinvention of the same show, made me realize it was far more than that.
I thought back through the years at the numerous iterations that, at the time, seemed popular but had not yet infiltrated and overwhelmed the selection. The first of these I remembered was a show on MTV called, ironically, "Big Brother". I'm sure almost everyone knows the premise of this "reality" game show where people live in a house under constant surveillance and those who "crack" and leave without permission are eliminated from the contest. The last one to survive the ordeal wins. I laughed that they called this "reality TV". What is real about a bunch of attractive young people living rent-free in a luxurious penthouse with no bills and where the smallest of life's dramas is suddenly the concern of millions across America? There is absolutely nothing real about it. But it was a success and many carbon-copy spin-offs came later.
Survivor, Naked and Afraid, The Weakest Link, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, The Apprentice, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, American Idol, The Voice, America's Got Talent, America's Next Top (Insert almost any profession here - Model, Chef (Iron Chef)), Baker, Designer, Blacksmith (Forged in Fire), and on and on ad nauseam.
Having always believed that television is used to some degree to manipulate the minds of the public, the sudden realization that there was an obvious, clearly concerted effort to hard-wire our minds into a specific thought pattern was terrifying. If successful this hard-wiring would make our behavior quite predictable.
Working in security, firefighting and emergency medical services, I learned that the reason that training is done over and over again is so that in times of stress we react in the manner we have been trained and reinforced to do as opposed to whatever our natural human reactions would be. Each situation may be unique but there are still standard protocol that are drilled and drilled to assure a consistent outcome.
So what is the reason for this drill? What is the message hidden between the lines and what is its intended outcome? Obviously the most important message is that competition among people is the best possible form of interaction because it leads to a separating of the winners and losers. What matters is coming out on top. In fact, it is portrayed in some shows as if the contestant's very survival depends on it.
This drive for supremacy supersedes all others and is the prime directive underlying all human interaction on the show. The forming of "alliances" is mere utility because in the end there can be only one winner. The underlying message here is that people are only useful "tools" to advancing one's own state of supremacy. This devalues human interaction and creates a complete vacuum of community and cooperation.
These shows for me are a foreshadowing. For what event they prepare us, we do not know. But the elite fear our working together. And as they increase our suffering, as they squeeze us more and more, they know this will inevitably lead to the masses bonding and becoming a collective movement. These shows are designed to program us against our natural instinct to work together. Even if another person has a story of tragedy, we are to ignore that and focus on ourselves. They constantly reinforce that trust is a weakness of the prey and that treachery is the strength that leads to victory. There is no prize or honor for those who work together, who show empathy, who will be selfless to help another. The prize goes to the most cunning, the most manipulative person. These qualities are exalted while others are scorned. The message is clear. There are winners and losers. Don't be a loser.
There are of course many more instances of "reading between the lines" and I'm sure you have your own. I will only say that we have to develop and maintain an awareness of the constant barrage of hidden messages, learn to see them and decode their intent. We have to talk to each other and share what we see. We have to help each other to learn the trick of the great Magic Eye to destroy its power to deceive and program us.