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The Online Fascination with Big Brother

by Geoff Talbot on November 29, 2012

Big Brother

“1.7 billion were there for his birth. 220 countries tuned in for his first step. The world stood still for that stolen kiss. And as he grew so did technology. An entire human life – recorded on a intricate network of hidden cameras and broadcasted live and uninterrupted 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to an audience around the globe.” – The Truman Show                                                                                                

In 1998, when Paramount Pictures produced “The Truman Show,” starring Jim Carrey, the ability for the public to follow the lives of others 24/7 was simply the realm of fiction. In 2012, the increasing power of the Internet and the coinciding improvements of mobile video technology have turned “Truman’s cinematic nightmare” into a new genre of entertainment: The 24/7 reality show.

For those who love reality TV, there is plenty of additional content available online.  In case you didn’t know, you can tune-in to the Big Brother Reality Show on the Internet any time, day or night. The cameras are never turned off, it’s the voyeurs delight. When the show is over there is still plenty of online content available to help you keep up with your favorite houseguest. The entertainment never stops.


On a show like Big Brother the cameras have always been rolling 24/7, it’s just that they had to cram everything down into an action packed 60- to 90-minute segment to fit into the viewing window that the television network provided. That’s the thing with all reality shows; there are hours upon hours of footage capturing reality as it occurs, but most of this footage is never seen. What is seen are the highlights (or lowlights), a form of hyper-reality without the normalcy, the rhythm of everyday life.

What also occurs, in the editing and packaging of a reality is in many cases censorship. The juiciest, ugliest, rawest pieces of content are often removed as a requirement of law or good common decency. Whether you agree with it or not, the Internet is less regulated.

What Big Brother online content is proving is that a fascination with the lives of others, is not so much about action, but suspense — the monotony of waiting, wondering if and when that “moment of magic” will happen. Think of going on a safari and tracking a lion for days, waiting and watching for it to make its move. The additional Big Brother and other reality TV show content found on the Internet slows down the pace of the show and makes it more like well, reality. That said, there is plenty of tension and drama to be found online.


Being able to watch someone 24/7 is both incredibly fascinating and a little eerie. The constant streaming of video content increases the ability for a viewer to become attached to an ordinary contestant, to raise them to celebrity status, and to learn intermittent details about their lives. With the ability of being able to check-in on contestants whenever they want, fans can become attached in a way that has not been possible before.

Social media is increasing the power of the “round-the-clock, never stop 24/7” genre. When you are watching a housemate do that terrible thing late at night, there’s no need to feel guilty for watching. You can use the second screen to join a forum and discuss the situation, or tweet about it to another friend. When the show is over you can still find additional content such as season highlights and interviews with houseguests at the Big Brother website and follow your favorite contestants on Twitter.

We’re all in on the act, like the Truman Show, everyone is part of the experiment. Unlike the Truman Show, the contestants are willing participants, exhibiting their lives like a piece of post modern art displayed in pixels for the rest of the world to see.


The people in the Big Brother House are not there forever, they have agreed to let you watch for a definite and predetermined length of time. They will soon have their privacy back. When the show terminates and they go back to their changed reality; then so must you. Don’t forget you are still in essence only watching a television show; it’s just a much longer episode.

What if you’ve become attached and have become a fan of these larger than life people who lived and breathed upon your television, desktop and mobile screen? Well there is always Twitter and Facebook. Stay connected to your favorite Big Brother peeps long after the show ends via social media. If that doesn’t work… there are always reruns and maybe a new season and a new household of people for you to befriend.

Do you love reality TV? What was your favorite season of Big Brother? Let us know in the comments below.


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