Poor Kim Kardashian. A mere 72 days after her wedding and she's already tweeted -- erm, filed -- for divorce.
In case you're crawling out from under a rock, or not into tabloids and reality TV, Kim and her sisters are stars of the reality show "Keeping up with the Kardashians." The family's show has given the world six seasons of really rich people shopping, drinking, dating and occasionally eating (but the latter only because it makes endorsing their weight-loss cleanses possible). The end of Kim's marriage after only 72 days is sad, but equally disturbing is our fascination with it all.
The Kardashians are the epitome of the latest trend of fame for its own sake. Most of us remember the days when Pluto was a planet and fame was the result of possessing a talent other than shopping. However, somewhere between "Jerry Springer" and "The Real World," society realized watching people's lives unravel on prime-time television is entertaining enough to warrant sponsors and a spot on their DVR. These days, television is brimming with survivors, desperate housewives and whatever forum Simon Cowell is using these days to insult wanna-be singers.
Ratings show people love watching others mess up.
Reflecting on this, there are some aspects of reality TV that can be positive. It's inspiring to watch a community come together and rebuild a home or school that's in need. Shows that chronicle a genuine quest for self-improvement in the way people exercise, dress and live can help those viewing realize how they can better their own lives.
However, this oversharing is a mindset that is not limited to reality television.
The Internet has given a forum for everyone to post every detail of their lives to Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. While these sites can be great forums for sharing information in ways our parents and grandparents never thought was possible, they also offer a place where teens (and immature adults) can experiment with getting attention for the sake of attention -- with little regard for how this affects others.
In his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul warns Christians about those who conduct themselves as "enemies of the cross of Christ", stating "their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their 'shame'..." (Philippians 3:18-19). It appears disgraceful role-models have been a problem long before network television.
St. Paul encourages the Philippians, pushing them to forget "what lies behind" and "straining forward to what lies ahead ... toward the goal, the prize of God's upward calling, in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).
As we discern the many ways we observe and share "reality," here is the question we should be asking (and encouraging others to ask): Is this calling us to be better people? Or find glory in shame?
Alison Griswold is the director of youth ministry at St. Francis By the Sea Catholic Church. Follow her on Twitter @alisongriz. Read her blog at www.teamcatholic.blogspot.com.