Friday, January 20, 2006
Reality Show Prison
Good morning all, and a special thanks to a couple of prison ministries that bought a couple copies of "Grades of Honor" recently. I appreciate that, and it motiviates me to finish my proofing of the third book, and to start the fourth.
The title of this entry is based on something I have seen lately that bothers me. There might be several hundred prison support sites, or prison ministries, or prison pen pal sites, or whatever you call it. I have been involved in a few dozen, and am involved in a few. But something struck me about how some of these prison sites are run, and it bothers me.
Let's be clear, these are my opinions, so I am not on the "holy mountain" writing the new commandments. But I have noticed that a lot of so called "prison support" sites are not really as sincere as one would believe.
No, I am not saying this because I have been banned from a few (laughs), and I don't want to point the finger at the owner of the site (not all of them). There is something wrong with sites or members of the sites, and I want to talk about that.
I call it, "The Reality Syndrome".
In the last 10 years or so, we have been subjected to so many "reality shows" that I honestly think we are starting to think that real life has to have "drama" or else it's not real. That's fine if you're watching television for amusement, but when you talk about real life and real people, that should not have a priority.
What do I mean by that? I have noticed that many prison support sites are so loaded with the "drama" and so lacking in action. People love reading about prison riots and controversial issues in prisons, yet so few get off their butts to do anything...
Are you there just for the drama?
Check out any prison support site and look at the contents. Granted there should always be information about the problems of prisons, but you should also look at what is being done...if anything.
There is a kinda twisted way of looking at this. Some people like visiting prison support sites to read how bad others have it so they can feel better about their own lives. There are many members out there that are not interested in helping anyone, but are quick to make a post about something. Those kind of people are looking for drama, not support.
Those are the kind of people who want to know that how your loved one was abused in prison is worse than the life they currently live. They want to know that the spouses who are suffering, or the mothers who are suffering with a loved one in prison shows that their meager life is at least better than them. We like to see others suffer (not out of joy), so we can count our lives at least better than them. It reinforces that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the lawn.
Then there are those who say they are prison supporters, but are not really interested in what inmates go through on a daily basis. How in the world can you call yourself a "prison support site" or "prison ministry" or whatever, and you are not interested in what they go through on a daily basis?
These are the people who want to talk about riots, rape, violence, injustice and everything like that, but forget about the life of the inmate. That seems to tell me that all they want is the drama, and if the drama isn't there, then they really don't care about the inmate.
To some people, prison support sites are nothing more than a steady diet of entertainment. These people love to read about the drama of spouses with loved ones in prison. It's better than the daily soaps!
Everything about it is right there for a script. You've got characters willing to bear their soul on the site about their loved one. You've got passion, desire, controversy, crime. Everything you could ever want is right there for these people to read daily and enjoy...
But lost in all this is sincerity.
Those kind of people are not interested in the true welfare of the inmate, they could care less. These are people who are bored with inmates who talk about what prison is about, unless it has controversy, violence and drama...
It has to have drama!!!!
I was on a site where I read some members talking about the site being down, and one said something like, "I hope they get it fixed soon, I need my fix!"
These members were not talking about the site as an avenue to find help, or to give help, they were talking about it as a shortcut to entertainment, just like a reality show.
And maybe we are all players on the stage.
I get upset when I see sites like this, because the sincerity is not there, it can't be when people are not there to help or be helped. I try to reinforce many times when I write, that I am no award-winning author, but I will be damned if I am going to spend 30 to 45 minutes sharing my heart to a bunch of ingrates who are only picking through it for amusement. I put my heart in what I write because I truly believe that there are lost people out there that need help, and I want to make my best attempt to do so.
And more times than not it helps. I have countless emails, letters and such from people who have asked for advice, or thanked me for post written in the past. That is worth anything I can say, because to me it means there ARE some people out there that need the help and support, not just a bunch of curious individuals who really could care less about the plights of prison.
There is more that can be shared on this, but I think you guys get the point. Prison support groups are supposed to be there to help, if not just by word (SINCERE WORD), or by some form of action. Those who join just to read the drama are not helping. It's like watching a child drown in a pool and you have the ability to save them, but are afraid that if you get involved, you'll get wet.
So the reality show prison sites will go on, and even flourish; it seems to be the flavor of the month, especially with a couple of prison shows on television. But unless real sincere people get involved, those souls in prison will not change, the only change will be that their suffering will be more commercial and entertaining to those who don't care.
Anyway, that's my penny's worth for the day, email me at derf4000 AT embarqmail.com , I hope to finish the third book very soon.