Monday, May 25, 2015

Television As A Window On Society

I was hoping for something a little bigger!
I was surprised to find that over the holiday weekend I found myself drawn to and watching a show about real estate and home-buyers in search of their "dream house". It was as if I could not look away and similar to how many people slow and linger at the site of a gruesome accident wanting to soak it in. As I pondered my attraction to this massive time waster I realized it was in a way a reflection on the attitudes of society or what we might refer to as the masses.

It should be noted this and other programs create a self feeding loop that skews our expectations. Are we not just as good or better than these people? The answer to this question is, "better I would say," thus it is logical I would deserve even more of life's bounty, yeah, more and then some! This mindset is infectious. All across America people are buying into this logic that they deserve it all. This is evident by the number of new cars being purchased every day with sub-prime loans. I must admit it was rewarding and a relief to view an episode where the house was not over the top and the cost reasonable.

The priorities buyers set and delight in searching for often highlighted the immaturity of youth dosed with a loose connection to reality. To me it reeks of a society hellbent on overindulgence and entitlement. As a footnote I do recognize my way of looking at the world is more than a tad different from the average Joe, and I do not say that with pride. Many of us who walk to a different drummer will admit we often stumble because we are out of step.

Being very involved in real estate and design I found it important as a reminder never to forget what makes perfect sense to one person is pure nonsense to another, and often very expensive nonsense at that. Many times on these shows I heard the phrase, "that has to go, I couldn't live with that." Sadly, these references were about the color of a granite counter-top or the fact the appliances were not stainless steel. It seems to me buying a house for $300,000 then replacing a $8,000 three year old counter-top hinges on the edge of insanity.

Another phrase that roused my ire was "oh, this is really dated."sometimes this statement was directed at a house built only ten years ago.This was often followed by "it will have to be totally gutted." All I can say is God bless our throw away society. With many people across the globe living in poverty and squalor sometimes without plumbing, clean water, and even dirt floors this begins to become surreal. I realize this is a television show edited to maximize the viewer emotions, but my experience in real estate confirms what we see on these shows is not abnormal behavior. Seeing some of these self indulging buyers gorging at the trough of self importance made me pray their day of comeuppance was not far off.

It is not uncommon to have someone interested in leasing a property make outlandish and economically impossible demands oblivious to the fact you have already decided you do not want to lease to them. Usually it is because of a deep seated feeling they they are unlikely to be able to financially fulfill any lease or contract they would sign. I have found the world is full of people who gain massive self importance from wasting our time even when they might not have two nickles to rub together. To those readers familiar with the show "Family Guy" I was reminded of the scene where Peter Griffen goes shopping at Tiffany.

Bottom-line is television sometimes is more of a reflection of society than we might like to admit. In some ways it is somewhat responsible for helping to create the values our society holds, rational or not. In life it is important we understand we are not the center of the universe. One thing I learned from my viewing before I put this diversion behind me and shut off the television was that at times it appeared the less deserving a person was the more demanding and arrogant they became. It was as if a some strange perverse reverse law of physics had locked hold of their personality,  understanding and gaining a little more insight as to what make these people tick has some merit.

Footnote; Soon I will be posting an article about a fellow named Jim who had the guts to honestly reveal how much his mothers house really sold for. He tells a story about a declining neighborhood and how the family advised mom to take the money and run. His story reflects the reality many Americans face in the real world. 

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