Your Life, My Entertainment: Dawn Contributor

ISLAMABAD (DAWN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – You can see it happening on reality shows. Participants living ordinary lives suddenly discover that worldly voyeurism – the curiosity to know how other people live – can become a lucrative source of income, even wealth.

Initially, the couple or family is just living the life they had, as viewers watch them raise their 15 children, or live their lives as little people, or participate in an elimination game where the worst fate is getting kicked out of a mansion or marrying someone. invisible.

In a show on the USA Network casually titled The Learning Channel, an overweight woman documents her struggles trying to find a partner as she runs a dance club. Someone, I imagine, is telling these people that it’s just their 10 minutes in the world’s allotment of the famous 15 minutes. I can also imagine that many of these people imagine that they will be different. They will always be random voyeurs interested in what they ate in a day or how they cook chicken curry.

But the end is coming, and you can see which reality shows have content suggested by the show’s producers and would never have been a part of the reality star’s life if not for the stacks of cash the show has. suddenly brought. in their life. There are flashy vacations in Europe and stays in five-star hotels. There are new homes full of high-end appliances and new cars, even if the stars have nothing in terms of careers or vocations.

In other episodes, long-forgotten exes and rejected friends appear. An attempt is made to create gripping conflict that will achieve the ultimate goal of every such show: to keep the audience hooked. Eventually, even these ideas begin to wear thin; the fights that people on the show have are no longer the ordinary fights that viewers can relate to. Now it’s the problems of those who landed sudden jackpots, whose income levels went far above those of their jealous former friends and relatives. It’s the end of the show; the private lives that were presented were chewed up and spat out.

Waiting in the shadows are other reality stars who think they’ll beat this cycle, who imagine they’ll be famous and therefore rich forever. Pakistan does not have the avalanche of reality TV shows that proliferate in India and the West. But while TV networks have stayed out of the game, via the proliferation of platforms such as YouTube and TikTok, the former actually paying content creators per views, it’s easy to grow your own reality show.

Here comes vloggers, people who document their days and activities on camera and then, through some basic editing, setting to music, etc., are able to produce an individual version of a reality show . Most of these vlogs are only watched by immediate circles of friends and family not exceeding a few hundred views at best. These vlogs have been consistent for quite some time, with the vlogger following some serious advice to build a following and stay consistent.

Most of the time, however, these don’t get the type of audience that would make the effort a lucrative business. Some carry on, throwing their words and experiences out into the world in hopes that someone will hear them, maybe even benefit from them or connect with them.

The real test only comes before those whose vlogs take off. Most of those who see this happen are already semi-famous or “next to fame,” meaning they’re linked to someone who already has a large following and is pushing their vlog. Again, you see the same reality star life cycle. At first there is an endearing joy; the vlog takes off and thousands of views pay US$0.18 (S$0.24) each. Considering the exchange rate between the dollar and the rupee, this means that a pretty penny can be earned, especially if the vlog is a daily deal.

At this point, the vlogs feature the details of their lives. Having renounced intimacy, we are taken inside bedrooms, inside closets and cupboards, inside relationships between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law, inside fights with friends, on restaurant tables, etc. The best are the ones who just don’t seem to care that they traded their privacy for money. Since there has been no monetary value on privacy, it looks like easy money.

What they don’t seem to realize is that at some point during this chase, the stars of these self-produced shows go from documenting their lives to choreographing their lives for the sake of a vlog. . When recording yourself is your source of income, it’s hard not to make decisions by thinking about successful vlogging, what looks good on camera, or what viewers interact with the most.

Suddenly, the terms of life shift from a judgment of their inherent worth or enjoyment to good material. Then there is the constant fear of losing viewers and views gained so far, a fear so real that viewers are beginning to control rather than just consume the content presented to them.

It might come as a surprise in our age when everyone is an influencer that these self-made stars suffer from burnout by constantly churning out likeable, visible content. Some experience such psychological fallout that they have to stop altogether. Others have to cut back or take breaks or just lose viewers. It’s a terrible result but proves that monetizing something that initially had no monetary value can have consequences.

The privacy of individuals can appear as easy money when in reality free money does not exist.

  • The author is a lawyer who teaches constitutional law and political philosophy. Dawn is a member of Asia News Network, media partner of the Straits Times, an alliance of 23 news outlets.

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