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The Danger of Reality TV

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THE APPRENTICE -- NBC Alternative Series -- "Episode #12 - The Pepsi Challenged" -- Pictured: Donald Trump -- NBC Universal Photo Airdate: Thursday, November 25 on NBC (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET)Size: 985205
THE APPRENTICE -- NBC Alternative Series -- "Episode #12 - The Pepsi Challenged" -- Pictured: Donald Trump -- NBC Universal Photo Airdate: Thursday, November 25 on NBC (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET)Size: 985205

We should really ban reality shows from television. For starters, they aren't that real, are they? The creators are extremely good at editing so that we see whatever they want us to see -- whatever will bring in ratings.

The reason reality television is a problem is the quality of the messages it sends about human behaviour. It makes it seem acceptable to deal with others in a very unprofessional way as long as the end justifies the means.

For example, we have an entire generation of young adults who have grown up watching Survivor. That generation now comprises adults who potentially believe that the behaviour they have seen on Survivor for years is an acceptable way to achieve success. They are in the workplace right now with that understanding. It scares me for those kids who don't have parents who point out that Survivor is television and not reality.

To win Survivor you must lie, form alliances, stab others in the back and conspire to get the strongest players voted off the show. In order to win you must really set aside your compassion, your kindness and your sense of fairness. In essence, professionalism must be done away with in order to win.

We see this at every final tribal council. The finalists list what they have done to get to that point. They repeatedly insist that it's just how you play the game and they're rewarded for having played that way.

How many people learn that that is an acceptable way to to behave in order to succeed in life? Millions, I'll bet.

The Apprentice is another reality show that is hurting our workplaces. The person in charge of the team (the project manager) must effectively decide which three people failed to perform, thereby costing the manager the win they so desperately wanted.

Instead of teaching the person in charge that ultimately "the buck stops here" they look for a reason the team failed. And that reason is always caused by someone else.

Quite frankly, I want a leader who takes responsibility, not throws team members under the bus. I want a leader who will tell me that even if we don't win, it doesn't mean we lost. A project manager on The Apprentice who did actually say that (Bradford Cohen from years ago) was fired for not putting his team members at risk.

Given the choice in the real world, I would work for Bradford long before I would work for Donald Trump. Bradford is the leader that I respect. He stands up for his team.

All the other competition shows (Dancing with the Stars, MasterChef, American Idol etc.) are based on the premise that one bad day can cost you the game. They instill fear in people. Instead of looking for the cumulative success of their dancing, singing or cooking they look for one weakness, no matter how small. As soon as it is revealed -- bam, they're off the show.

I would like to think that in the workplace my overall success is taken into consideration and that I won't be fired because of one event.

In the sense that these shows offer entertainment, I enjoy them. The reality of reality shows is that they effectively affect our society. Television tells us what is normal and accepted and eventually it worms its way into our subconscious.

These messages are wrong. They instill a workplace mentality of winning at all costs. They have no compassion, no understanding, and no reality about the world we actually live in.

We need television to teach us the proper way to work with others. We don't need competition-based reality shows that lack compassion and professionalism. We need reality TV that truly reflects "reality."