I approached work this morning with a fear of dread. Not mere my life is in peril dread, but true existential I’m going to be faced with Lovecraftian horrors that will peel away my sanity in prosciutto-thin layers dread. In short, work was to be invaded by Big Brother Canada fans hoping to be part of a promo for the impending season.
The idea was jarring for me. This wasn’t gonna be paid work, it was merely an attention-seeking attempt to gain widespread recognition as a fan of an inherently attention-seeking show. To pridefully brand oneself in front of an entire country, not for something you’d done, but for something others had done to themselves that you’d watched. Then I reflected back on my own processing. I might not be into the show, but did that make it necessary for me to forge some kind of ill-advised moral high ground? As if some snooty high-culture critique of populist entertainment gave me any kind of substantive status? These people found something they enjoyed and it didn’t affect me in the slightest (outside the extra work it’d mean for my actual job), yet I felt a need to cast judgement? Who the fuck did I think I was? Where was this coming from? Was any of it envy? An inability to lose myself to the kind of rabid enthusiasm they got from this show? Why did I have a problem with the show anyway?
I thought about Big Brother for a second. It’s based around forging connections with others and competing in activities. In a vacuum, that sounds kind of neat. If it wasn’t for the very real personal and professional ramifications of appearing on a widely broadcast reality television show, I’d probably be on board participating in something like that. Being put into a space and working out how each of my fellow house guests interconnected would be fun as hell. Like a big puzzle made of squishy human beings and their feelings. I’d have a total blast with the game mechanics. I’ve heard people around the office talking about strategy, the concept of not kicking up too much of a fuss and getting a come from behind victory. I could befriend everyone, get to play the games and see how far I could get without leaning into the natural conflict that would arise. Then when it started to get down to crunch time, start taking heads.
Of course I’ve never seen so much as an episode, so all this is supposition and tertiary advice. It’s something I’d love to try in theory, but in practice it seems like a massive popularity contest that I’d only enjoy if I was coasting high on a massive wave. If it couldn’t form connections I’m sure I’d backslide right into those cliquey high-school dynamics and try and get myself voted out. Then I’d have to live with the very real consequences of showcasing my myriad of anxieties in front of the entire country. As much as the concept of renown has an appealing ring to it, infamy would destroy me. I’d never survive the pending implosion of self-loathing. I couldn’t knowingly take that risk.
At the end of the day, Big Brother and I won’t be watching each other any time soon.