What I Learned From Big Brother

     I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but I caught “Big Brother” fever.  I’m going through a mild case of withdrawal now that the show is over, but I’m sure I’ll get through it just fine. 

     Ten strangers were brought together into a house full of two-way mirrors and cameras everywhere.  They were allowed virtually no outside contact and had no privacy.  Each hoped to be the houseguest who would make it to the end of 90 days without being banished from the house and thus win $500,000.  When “Big Brother” first came on, Gary and I both thought “How stupid. That show will never make it”, and at first I didn’t watch it much at all – just a few minutes every now and then.  However, as the weeks went on and some of the houseguests were banished, I found it much more interesting.  I watched it every night once it got down to only four people left in the house.  Although they were mostly just talking and doing normal, everyday things, there was something fascinating about observing their lives.  I wanted to tune in every night and see what they were up to as the game came to an end.  There was something satisfying about watching until the last moment when the final houseguest left the house.

     Because I love the Lord, I asked myself often if this was a show I could watch and enjoy completely.  I must admit, I felt a bit conflicted over this issue. I didn’t feel comfortable enough to tell my friends that I was watching “Big Brother” every night.  I wondered what they would think of me.  Well, now that the show is over, I’ve come to some conclusions and I’ve also gained some spiritual insights as a result of watching.  (I’m not just saying that to justify a complete waste of time!)  Maybe some of you also watched – proudly, or in “secret” as I did.  I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts on this show, but in the meantime, here are some observations to think about:

     I found myself thinking about how I would act if I knew I had cameras on me at all times.  The houseguests said that they actually forgot the cameras were there at times, but as I watched I thought it usually seemed like they were quite aware that they were being watched, and this influenced how they behaved.  Maybe all of us would act a little nicer, a little more mature if we pretended there were cameras hidden in our homes.  When we lived on our farm, we had an intercom system so that we could hear from room to room.  We didn’t use it all the time, but once when I was putting Erin to bed (this was during that very angry year) I was tempted to talk very harshly to her.  I thought maybe the intercom was on and Gary would hear me talking badly, so I forced myself to be civil as I put her to bed.  I’m sure most of you have seen those “60 Minutes” type shows where parents put in a hidden camera to see how their babysitter is acting, and then they’re horrified to find out the sitter has been yelling at the kids, ignoring them while watching TV, or even physically abusing them during the parents’ absence.  What would a hidden camera reveal about you?

     Every Wednesday, “Big Brother” had a live show where they announced which house guest would be banished that week.  (People paid 99 cents to call in and vote someone off the show)  After the banished house guest came out of the house and went into the studio, the host showed them a short video of how they had acted in the house.  That was one of the most interesting parts for me.  Many of the house guests seemed very embarrassed by the things they saw on the monitor.  Admittedly, someone had been able to sort through hours and hours of videotape to pick some of the most outrageous moments for that person, but I wondered if they wished they could go back and do things differently.  We all will make embarrassing mistakes at times, but we could all do a little better if we would stop and think about the things we’re doing.

     Another thought I had at times as I watched was that we all need to live our lives and not spend so much time watching other people live their lives on television (whether in reality shows like this one or in fictional programs).  I do a lot of living, I’m not glued to the television all day long, but for many people the TV can become a means of escape.  It’s easier to sit and watch someone solve a problem in 30 minutes or two hours on a television show than it is to spend time solving our own problems.  But, do our problems go away while we’re sitting in front of the tube?  No!  We’re just procrastinating and letting problems get bigger as time passes.  Try to keep life in balance…work hard, relax when needed, keep asking the Lord what He wants you to be doing as you go through the day.

     After they got out, I heard many of the house guests say that they just wanted to really get the most out of their “Big Brother” experience.  That helped them maintain a good attitude while they were in the house, and most of those house guests went the longest in the house before being banished.  They knew that the “game” would be over in 90 days, and being able to see the end helped them keep their perspective through some of the stressful or boring times in the house.  What a good thought for those of us who are Christians!  We know that our time here on earth will have an end, too.  Someday it will be over and we’ll be in heaven with the Lord.  Knowing that should help us keep our perspective while going through the rough times here.  I know it seems like a long time before our life is over when we are young, but we really don’t know how long we have left here on this planet.  Illness, accidents, or other misfortunes could end our life prematurely, and even if we live until we’re very old, it’s still a very short amount of time compared to all of the centuries that have passed and the eternity that stretches before us.  (If you aren’t absolutely sure you’ll be spending that eternity in heaven…please check out My Life Story so you can be sure!)  Life is short, so let’s enjoy every moment as we experience it!

     Finally, one major difference for us as we draw some spiritual insights from “Big Brother”.  Behind the cameras and two-way mirrors, many human beings watched and recorded what was going on in the house.  Influenced by their own preconceived ideas and a concern for ratings, the editors pieced together various scenes to air a half-hour show each night.  People all over the country came to “know” the houseguests as they watched their actions and heard their conversations on TV.  We are all being “watched” as we go through each day, but here is where the difference comes in…we are being observed by a loving, powerful, all-knowing, magnificent God.  He doesn’t just see our actions and hear our conversations, he can see right into our hearts.  He is the only one who really knows us completely.  Fortunately for us, He will not be broadcasting our every move over the airwaves, but He does care about the choices we make in life.         

          “From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth — he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.”  Psalm 33:13-15

     Psalm 121 is full of references to watching:  “I lift up my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip — he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  The LORD watches over you — the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.  The LORD will keep you from all harm — he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

     The ten houseguests were completely dependent on “Big Brother” for their food, safety, and other needs.  They had to choose to trust the people making this show, even though the house guests didn’t know them at all, and couldn’t be sure that the producers would even portray them accurately.  We, too, must choose to trust someone we can’t see, but we can know who He is.  The Bible tells us all we need to know about God’s character.  Even though He allows some terrible things to come into our lives at times, we can trust Him because He does it all for our ultimate good.  Most importantly, God loves us, and so we can put our confidence completely in Him.

     I don’t think I’ll bother watching the next group of house guests go through the “Big Brother” house.  I’ve learned enough from watching this first group interact and experience life in such a controlled setting.  I’m so glad that I have choices, and freedom, and privacy, and a “Heavenly Father” watching over me!


© Robyn Mulder 2000, therobynsnest.org

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *