Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Not Heading to Reality TV Anytime Soon!

(this article originally appears in the 7/26 edition of The Review Atlas as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series)

My teenage daughter is convinced that our tribe could be the world's next great reality T.V. family. And by convinced I mean she doesn't just think it's a great idea or that it would be fun, she actually interrupts the ebb and flow of our home life to suggest, "See? The audience would eat this up!"

There's two immediate problems with her idea. One, she's deluded to think we are even remotely interesting and two, my hairstyle is much too normal to be ridiculed and/or imitated by the masses.

Last night during dinner, while six of us were crammed around the tiny kitchen table and I was denying for the umpteenth time my preteen son's relentless request to join Facebook, my daughter pointed out how comical the conversation would play out on our show. She may have even gone so far as to suggest camera angles. That's when my drama queen twins' chimed in, faked a few tears and pleaded "Yes, Mommy! Pleeeeeeease? Please can't we have our own show? Why won't you let us have our own show?" "See?" my teenager smugly said. "This would be great stuff!"

Sure kids, I'll pick up the phone and drop TLC a line. I'm certain we could be in their new line up by this fall. While the idea is ridiculous, it never ceases to amaze me how different of a world my children are growing up in than I did.

When I was a kid (I swore I'd never say that!) my friends had to call my house, get through busy signals and ask my parent's permission to see if I could talk on the phone! If I was granted permission I had to stretch the cord ten feet into the pantry in effort to have a semi private conversation! Now kids have their own cell phones and parents have lost all awareness as to who their child is talking to.

When I was a kid you got up early on Saturday morning to watch cartoons. Now we have entire channels dedicated to airing any and all types of cartoons twenty four hours a day. If I wanted to relay juicy gossip to a classmate I wrote it down in a note, folded it neatly in the shape of a tulip or star and passed it to them - by hand!  Now we've reached an era where over forty states have dropped teaching cursive handwriting in schools because kids don't write anymore! They can text at the speed of light!

We were so un-technologically advanced we used our thumb to manually advance our camera film, (completely unaware if we'd taken quality pictures), take it to the local pharmacy and wait two weeks to see the results. Today's cameras can take your photo and instantly publish it to the social media outlet of your choice.

In my day, my parents borrowed a video camera from a friend for special events and today anyone with a smart phone can take video with a simple push of a button.  You can upload it to YouTube in a nanosecond and broadcast yourself to the entire world. Justin Bieber and laughing babies have taken the internet by storm thanks to amateur home videographers.

Our Jon & Kate Halloween Costumes 2009
What used to be private is now public. What used to be important is now common. And what used to require patience is now instantaneous. While I'm flattered that my daughter would share a screen with me if she could, I'm concerned with her infatuation to broadcast her life as if she deserves an audience.

Aren't the magazines full of enough not-so-innocent starlets soaking up they're five minutes in the spotlight? Isn't it ok anymore to be simple? Good? Humble? And if it is how can I teach that to my daughter when her Twitterfeed is full of the foolishness of girls who are famous for nothing more than being famous?

I'll not be channeling my inner Kate Gosselin anytime soon. I have no desire, much to my children's chagrin, to be the next famous T.V. family! Why would I invite the world to witness our chaos, my OCD tendencies or the sorry excuse of a family pet we call Libby?  Instead I'm going to spend the next few years making sure that in the midst of a YouTube culture my children understand that a good life is one that is lived well when nobody is watching you! Why? Because I'm the (very un-famous) mom and I said so! That's why!

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