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Society’s Increasingly Obsessive Voyeurism By Patricia Sanchez-Abril

They say that the measure of a society is how it treats its weakest members. Our society’s increasingly obsessive voyeurism –the lives it claims and the example it sets—makes me wonder how we as a society would fare if we were measured by how we treat people like Kim Kardashian, Lindsay Lohan, or Britney Spears. Of course, to most, this proposition would sound ridiculous at first glance. After all, these women are “rich and famous,” something which has, in itself, curiously become a profession. (A recent Pew survey revealed that the majority of 18-25 year-olds believes that being rich and famous are the most important life goals of people in their age group. ) These women have in some ways benefited from the market for disclosure of their private facts and images: reality shows, constant Twitter updates, endorsements. Their “service” is in exposing themselves – and for this, they sometimes get paid.
Unfortunately, the profitability of self-exposure is short-lived and often comes at a high price. The disclosure market negatively affects many: those who profit from it, those public figures who don’t profit, and society in general. For those who are (seemingly) willingly profiting, the disclosure market is merciless. It is fueled by train wrecks, in other words, when the exposed lives fall apart. Britney Spears surely did not benefit (financially or otherwise) from the images of her shaving her head in a dazed state; nor did Lindsay Lohan for her multiple mug shots. And yet by putting themselves out there to begin with, our culture seems to accept that these women deserved the ensuing attention. One could legitimately ask whether this constant gaze was the cause — or perhaps just the effect — of their life troubles. For those public figures who don’t seek to publicize every instant of their lives, the disclosure market is equally troubling. These individuals find themselves more heavily scrutinized and invaded by a culture that has become desensitized to traditional values of privacy and intimacy.
The effects of the disclosure market and culture are not limited to those whose disclosures make the tabloid news. All of us are affected when one of us is treated in a way that denigrates them as women and as human beings – whether or not they are “rich and famous.” When such invasions are carried out publicly and systematically, we risk teaching our children that their own private facts are merely chips to be bartered in exchange for money and notoriety. The sad thing is that when there are no private facts left to sell, what is often left is a shred of a human being with many troubles, little dignity, and a battered reputation. And some call that entertainment.