There's an interesting phenomenon going on with television programming that goes beyond reality-based entertainment. Have you noticed the increased amount of shows devoted to blue-collar jobs? There are shows about exterminators, fishermen, ice road truckers, loggers, etc. And I think I know why people are attracted to these kinds of shows.
I would venture to guess that a good part of the audience for these shows are people mired in the drudgery and politics of the corporate world. And they're not watching the shows for escapism in the typical sense (i.e., "My life could be worse. Look at the danger these people face.").
I think the corporate drones, amidst their day-to-day dealings with office politics and management egos and Machiavellian co-workers, are thinking, "Wow, driving a semi carrying tons of steel construction beams up a steep, winding, ice-covered mountain road with zero visibility. Must be nice."
Don't get me wrong; the jobs profiled in those reality shows are perilous and carry their own kind of stress. But the jobs are simpler in that the outcome is more black and white, and the stress is not as insipid as, say, managing ones career in the shark tank of the corporate world. Make a dumb mistake on a crab boat in the middle of the Bering Sea, and the result is fairly straightforward. But in the corporate world of passive-aggressive management types, mistakes and ramifications from those mistakes aren't quite as clear.
I read somewhere that it's not an uncommon fantasy for people to want to walk away from their current lives and start over in some small town in the middle of nowhere, serving up pattie melts in a roadside diner. What about you? Have you ever fantasized about just getting off the treadmill?
Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.