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Why You Could Not Pay Me Enough to Film My Life

I don’t think anyone would want to do a reality show of my life. It’s not that exciting or different. But I was thinking yesterday that even if I were offered $1 mil, or full repayment of Micah’s student loans, or some major financial incentive, I wouldn’t take it in exchange for having my life filmed.

Some things are worth more than money:

  • Being able to enjoy life without being self-conscious.
  • Sharing silly intimacies with your spouse or partner–things that you’d never do or say in public (I’d give an example, but that defeats the purpose).
  • Singing in the shower.
  • Sitting around in your underwear on a hot day.
  • Saying “to heck with it” and making a mess in the kitchen.
  • Watching geeky or trashy tv without feeling bad about it.
  • Enjoying your hobbies because they’re what your love to do.
  • Knowing you can do something without it being discussed on a national level.

If you get really specific about the list and ask me if I’d trade singing in the shower for $100k, you’d probably get me to give it up for a year. But it’s not about any one thing. It’s that reality tv forces (ok, they sign up for it) people to give up one of the things that’s most precious in our lives–our self-confidence.

The entire point of reality tv is opening yourself up so that others can judge you. I can understand doing it in another location–like the Big Brother house–where you’re not trying to live your average life. But unless you have an enormous amount of self-confidence, there’s no way you won’t find yourself changing your behavior to fit the cameras.

And the entire point of earning money is so that you can live life more fully. It starts with getting money to meet the basic needs, then you can fulfill other desires, hobbies, etc. But the point of money isn’t to have more money, at some point you really do have enough. Money is just a tool that lets you buy crafting supplies or enhance your education. You don’t need much money to enjoy everything on the list above, either.

This isn’t limited to being reality tv either. Most of us will make this mistake by orienting ourselves toward things which aren’t what we really want. If we let ourselves get focused on success, fame, earning power, and the like, we can forget why we wanted them to begin with. These things are only good when they make our lives or the lives of others happier.

Don’t sell your happiness, don’t sell your self-confidence or your loves. You’ll have to make sacrifices and choices because we can’t have all our dreams, especially not at the same time. Just keep yourself lined up with your end-motivation, don’t let yourself get turned around in the middle.

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Sunday Money Roundup - Green Festival Edition. | My Two Dollars
May 3, 2009 at 10:00 am


Rob Bennett April 29, 2009 at 7:57 am

I think that reality TV is a deeply sick thing. It is a form of porn. I think that the point you are making here is well taken. You are describing one aspect of what makes porn porn.

Many people think that the only thing that makes porn shameful is that it relates to sex. No! Sex is not shameful. It is how you approach sex that makes it shameful or not shameful. Porn presents sex is a dishonest way. It also invades privacy and thereby cheapens humans.

What I hear you saying about reality TV (in far softer terms than the ones I am using) is that it is doing something similar. Yes, participating in reality TV (or even watching it, to a lesser extent) changes us. It CHANGES the reality. And not in a positive way.


the weakonomist April 29, 2009 at 8:08 am

The beauty of reality TV is that you get to fake everything. It isn’t like the stuff that happens on reality shows is real. I’d gladly allow cameras in my house because I get to make up drama and get paid $10K per episode.

the weakonomist’s last blog post: What Swine Flu and Recessions Have in Common

mrsmicah April 29, 2009 at 8:38 am

@the weakonomist, I’d totally be willing to let cameras in my house one day a week to make up drama. But I wouldn’t be willing to have them there all the time, even if only a tiny bit of it made it to air–because I’d worry about what they were going to use.

Adam April 29, 2009 at 9:50 am

All you have to do is watch a new episode of Jon and Kate Plus 8 and you can see what it does to a family. The children are too young to see the effects of it but you can tell that it is wearing Jon down (possibly Kate too). He just seems dazed at times. The show does allow them to do many great things for their kids, but at what cost?

Adam’s last blog post: 9 Quick and Easy Tips to Prevent Identity Theft

Writer Dad April 29, 2009 at 10:22 am

No way, no how. Not for all the money in the world. I can always make more dollars, but I can never make more minutes. They belong to me, not an audience.

Writer Dad’s last blog post: The story garden

Coupon Artist April 29, 2009 at 1:52 pm

Great points- I would never do it either. I look at some of these people, like Jon and Kate (plus 8) and I think about how ridiculous it is that they were paid all this money, got that huge house, got book deals- and all because they had a lot of kids. And, I feel bad for the children who have essentially turned into meal tickets!

Coupon Artist’s last blog post: Why is it so Much Harder to Thrive in America Today?

Kristy @ Master Your Card April 29, 2009 at 10:19 pm

I hate reality T.V. because it’s not real. It’s drama dressed up to be real and it’s ridiculous. The closest I get to reality T.V. is Dancing With the Stars and that’s because I like to watch ballroom dancing. There is no way in hell I’d let cameras come into my house and film my life. It’s destroyed families and marriages and it turns people into something they’re probably not.

Now, that’s not to say that I wouldn’t mind being an actress. I have hopes that some day I will. While I recognize that in some ways such a public life opens me to be scrutinized by others, there are still aspects that are personal…like the singing in the shower, messy kitchen, or sitting around in your underwear (haven’t really tried this one, but I do sit around in a t-shirt).

I think Rob’s comparison of reality T.V. to porn is a bit dramatic. I understand the point he’s making to some degree, but allowing people into your home and your life is vastly different then allowing someone to share your body for however long filming is and then share that with an audience. Pardon my graphic description, but the two aren’t really comparable.

Kristy @ Master Your Card’s last blog post: Who Do You Trust With Your Debit/Credit Card?

Money Beagle April 30, 2009 at 7:43 am

I agree with your post. I don’t think it would be worth giving up the privacy and everything that goes along with it. Plus, I wouldn’t want the judgment that would come along with it from anybody that would bother to watch, and also from my family and friends. Back to the Jon and Kate example that has come from a few comments, there are many widely held beliefs that a lot of friends and family are not close to them because of their decision to do the show in the manner which they do. That cost isn’t worth it to me.

Money Beagle’s last blog post: Is Now The Time To Buy Rental Properties?

Zella May 2, 2009 at 1:00 am

I wouldn’t do a reality show, because I’d rather earn fame than be famous via being an idiot on TV (i.e. whoever The Hills people are).

Zella’s last blog post: Where you from?

Funny about Money May 2, 2009 at 11:33 am

Reality TV gives me a flinch reflex. What a bizarre phenomenon, and even more grotesque that millions people actually watch the stuff.

Another public phenomenon that can screw up your life is winning a big lottery. Note that when you buy a lottery ticket, the fine print says the operators can use your name and your image in any way they please. The resulting publicity can lead to endless harassment.

Funny about Money’s last blog post: Home Security: Cheap (sorta) burglar discouragement

Penelope @ Pecuniarities May 3, 2009 at 10:48 am

I hate reality shows myself, but I have to admit that I would consider it if it’s only for a set period. While money isn’t the most important thing in life, it can also mean security. I might be willing to give up 6 months or 1 year of privacy and fully being myself if it meant I could be financially secure for the rest of my life. $1 million wisely invested and might do the trick, but I’d prefer $5 million.

I don’t sing much in the shower anyway. Too many frogs in my throat in the morning for a satisfying sing. Oh, and when the show ends, I’d change my name and buy a small sheep farm somewhere quiet and remote, which is something I’ve always wanted to do anyway. 😀

Penelope @ Pecuniarities’s last blog post: Mandatory Sterilization Laws Would Increase Pet Abandonment and Animal Control (Taxpayer) Costs

Matt @ My Financial Recovery May 8, 2009 at 8:28 am

I certainly would not want cameras following me around either. Although if it was a short (like a week or less) deal that would pay enough to eliminate my student loans I would probably consider. I would at least discuss it with my girlfriend and see what she thought.

I can not stand cameras though and would be very self conscious as well.

Matt @ My Financial Recovery’s last blog post: Some Good Student Loan News

MoneyEnergy May 8, 2009 at 6:33 pm

I barely watch any TV, let alone “reality” TV. The media/reality feedback loop is already so tightly knit in America, it’s amazing to think what more “reality” shows have added to it. Most TV is a form of mental junk anyway. It’s easy to do without. I totally agree with the post, too:)

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