I can’t say I’m proud of my generation. While I grew up in a world where boys left messages on answering machines with cassette tapes and people, for the most part, had to think before they spoke and say things to each other’s faces, I now live in a world where nobody remembers that two wrongs do not make a right. The wrong – mainly the second one – can be committed so quickly, so directly and so fleetingly (thanks, Twitter) that thinking things through has become old fashioned. When one username says something to another username, how insulting can it really be? Very, actually.
Personally, I love technology and social media. I can still hear the “screeeeech, scroooooch” that AOL made once upon a time, and the addition of AIM into my social life was, I’m pretty sure, sent straight from heaven. I’ve been a fan of connecting online ever since. However, I like to think that I use the World Wide Web (remember that phrase?) for good rather than evil. Or, if I do use it for evil when I’m feeling particularly catty, I remember to delete that evil and hope nobody saw my bad side. Luckily, I’ve only achieved the mildest degree of celebrity possible thanks to a local nightlife column and a sprinkling of magazine articles – my Tweets are read by tens, not millions. And so I pose the modern day’s age-old question: how can the uber-popular who are not paid for their opinion be so, so publicly nasty?
This good-hearted rant connects back to The Bachelor and “the biggest villain ever on the show, ever.” Let me just be straight with you, a la Ms. Robertson in the I-can’t-believe-how-much-I-like-it book I Didn’t Come Here to Make Friends: Confessions of a Reality Show Villain – I couldn’t stand Courtney on the show. Could. Not. Stand. Her. Over glasses of wine (some type of red, which is about as picky as I get), my friend Heather and I would scoff and grumble and scrunch our noses, repeating Courtney’s wicked one-liners with disgust and doing impressions of whatever kept happening with her lips. Oh-how-easy it was to recline on an overly comfy couch and judge, judge, judge.
Contradiction was close behind me: since I’m a fan of Bachelor-everything (although I don’t weep during finales or throw viewing parties – I have my limits), I had no choice but to buy Courtney’s book. This event alone turned me into a serial hypocrite for an entire four minutes. Yes, that was me staring at the cover in the aisle of Barnes & Noble, wondering how her skin always looks so perfectly dewy yet not greasy. But $25? Hmm, she probably does have some great insider Bach information I’ve always been curious about, though. But she’s a model, so she’s probably pretty stupid – this book’ll be wracked with errors.
Here’s what happened right after I started reading:
• I realized that even if I were single, I could never go on The Bachelor because it sounds so utterly boring in between dates.
• I felt really guilty for a mid-show comment I made about how Courtney’s legs were thick for a model, firstly because it was just bitchy and secondly because she mentions how her legs are a sore spot. I don’t love my size 10 feet and we all have something about us we’d like to change if we could or if we weren’t terrified of plastic surgery.
• Courtney’s not stupid and modeling is hard work and her book is not error-plagued.
• I had an entirely new impression of what those weeks were like for her, an impression that actually seems more realistic than the one shown on TV. I went from, “Everyone hates this girl because she’s a horrible person,” to, “She was horrible because everyone hated her.” When you think about it, is it really so believable that 24 or 14 or even eight girls completely and genuinely loathed the same person? That so many lovesick, alcohol-infused women could even agree with each other? We’ve all been through high school – that sort of ganging up says more about the group than the one singled out.
• Kacie B. wasn’t so sweet after all, something that became apparent when the producers switched from the “Sugar and Spice” editing to the “Oh, So You’re Kinda Crazy” editing.
• I remembered a time when I hadn’t thought Courtney was all that bad. She’s not bogarting this fly fishing date, girls, she’s doing what you should all be doing.
What we see of reality stars is condensed, processed and manipulated for television. Yes, Courtney said those things we heard, but she also felt crappy about many of them. Is it okay to fight fire with fire, for Courtney to have rattled off hurtful remarks after being ostracized and treated like garbage for days? No. Can we really blame her for snapping, though? Nah. Was it wrong for me to sit in my friend’s cushy living room, criticizing a person I didn’t know? It was, even though nobody outside of that living room heard me. Was it wrong for those in the public eye with thousands and thousands of fans (Trista, I’m looking at you) to loudly and rudely condemn? One hundred percent.
While we may not be able to think much before we bark back at a frenemy and while reality show contestants can’t un-say the quips they blurt out in front of a camera, a person behind an iPhone can absolutely read what they write and hesitate before hitting “send.” What we do impulsively and with regret says a lot about our humanness, but, just like in high school, what we choose to do repeatedly and purposely says even more about our character.