There was a time in my not-so-distant past in which I could name every â€œDancing with the Starsâ€ contestant, tell you how pristine their â€œtwo-stepâ€ was and recount exactly what type of cheap weave they wore in in the previous episode, all the while performing a solo rendition of the Viennense Waltz Iâ€™d just learned from the show.
In high school, I was a reality TV fiend.
And back then, it wasnâ€™t just â€œDancing with the Starsâ€ â€“â€“ Iâ€™d devour anything Bravo, the E! network or TLC had to offer me (Yes, even â€œI Didnâ€™t Know I was Pregnantâ€).
I could shamelessly tell you about how much better the dreamy British â€œBachelorâ€ was compared to the last guy, and then Iâ€™d give you all my â€œAmerican Idolâ€ predictions, because Simon Cowell was only sometimes right, and Paula Abdul was always heavily drugged.
So when my mom called recently and asked what I thought of the new â€œDancing with the Starsâ€ season, my heart sank. I didnâ€™t know. I hadnâ€™t watched a single episode â€“â€“ not one sequence-filled clip. I desperately tried to salvage my former glory by relaying some fact about this seasonâ€™s Chaz Bono controversy and agreeing when my mom said he seemed â€œsurprisingly light on his feet.â€
But it suddenly became official: My title as â€œReality TV Connoisseurâ€ had been stripped. Not only have I lost the time for it, but Iâ€™ve lost most of my interest as well. And (sorry, Mom), Iâ€™m glad Iâ€™ve been reformed.
The truth is, I still think some reality TV is worthwhile, and not all of it should be reserved for secretive viewing, locked in your room with a leopard-print Snuggie and a bucket of fried chicken â€“â€“ the air filled with shame.
Because some reality shows like â€œThe Amazing Raceâ€ and â€œProject Runwayâ€ are actually pretty great, filled with quality production and a unique premise. Theyâ€™re prime examples of reality TV done correctly.
But like any recovered addict, thereâ€™s the one drug Iâ€™m really apprehensive even admitting to have used. For me, itâ€™s the crystal meth of reality TV: â€œKeeping up with the Kardashians.â€
I started watching the Kardashian sisters say â€œlikeâ€ every other word and complain about their â€œreally stressfulâ€ love lives when the show first aired in 2007. I justified watching it by saying, â€œOoh I just think itâ€™s funny to see how dumb and materialistic they are. I donâ€™t actually enjoy the show.â€
But that â€“â€“ just like druggies saying theyâ€™ll do meth â€œjust onceâ€ â€“â€“ was a complete lie.
I watched the Kardashians, and the array of other trashy reality TV shows, because it was frivolous, mindless entertainment that was satisfying in the moment but ultimately not good for you â€“â€“ just like eating an entire bag of Cheetos Puffs.
The thing is, reality TV like â€œKeeping up with the Kardashiansâ€ is easy; you donâ€™t have to think about it, and itâ€™s a distraction from any other problem you may be dwelling on.
And really, itâ€™s harmless if watched in moderation. But when people begin caring more about Kim Kardashianâ€™s recent wedding to NBA player and neanderthal look-alike Kris Humphries more than, say, the job crisis, then we know thereâ€™s a problem.
It seems that, as apathy from our generation toward political an social reform increases, so does our affinity toward Kardashian-fueled entertainment and other shows like â€œJersey Shore.â€
But what can we do to stop it? How do we climb up from our seemingly inevitable descent into lives filled with water-cooler talk about who hook-ups and scandalous marriages into something more profound?
I wish I knew the easy answer.
But as a recovered addict, Iâ€™m on the cusp of making up for time lost in the world of reality TV. Iâ€™ve begun again the elusive, ancient practice of choosing to read a book over watching cast members of the â€œBad Girlâ€™s Clubâ€ say, â€œHold my hoops! Immaâ€™ â€˜bout to pop-off on this hoe!â€… but itâ€™s still a constant struggle.
Yet I think if our generation wants to overcome the cultural label of superficial apathy we seem to be developing, it will indeed be a constant struggle.
We need to start making a daily, conscious effort to not become Kim Kardashian.
Instead of staring at the Facebook newsfeed for a half an hour, letâ€™s choose to spend the same amount of time catching up on actual news.
And instead of spending our free time reading Texts from Last Night, perhaps lets start reading texts from more than two decades ago â€¦ like … the Constitution.
No? Too far of a stretch? Well, letâ€™s at least start trying to read things more than 140 characters.
Editorial Editor Colleen McSweeney is a junior journalism major. Her column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.