First off - a big apology to all for being late this week. For some reason, I woke up on Saturday feeling 'blurry', so although I carried on with my chores, I wasn't myself. When I awoke Sunday morning, I discovered I'd slept for 14 hours straight! And spent the rest of the day fighting off dizziness, nausea, and generally feeling off. So I wound up spending Sunday in bed, occasionally rising to bounce off the walls on my way to making yet another cup of non-Salem tea.
Why am I telling you this? Because, dear ones, in the past I could have been sure of finding at least one place on the air where someone was dealing with something similar, and I would have been eager to find out what the heck was the problem and how to deal with it.
Sure, there's now GOOGLE, and a million other quicker, perhaps smarter ways to check on your health on line, or on health programs on the LIFE channels. And I do use those resources, when I'm really worried about symptoms in myself or within my family. But in the 'old day's, I'd have been sure to find that someone on one of my soaps was coping with a variation of my problem. Because soaps used to be a great place to take your physical 'temperature' as well as your emotional 'barometer'.
Did soaps give up on showing us 'reality' when 'Reality TV' took over? I know so many women who agonized through menopause, alcoholism, depression, abortion, or breast cancer along with a beloved soap character. Maybe they were, or knew someone, with an addiction to gambling, sex, or shoplifting. Some of us related to how desirable the husband next door (or teenage son!) looked in his Speedos. Maybe we even had a yen for the 'girl next door'. We literally 'felt their pain', as we not only learned about a physical or mentally based problem, but were offered the ways and means to cope with how the problem affected not only our own bodies, but those around us.
Now, I'm certainly not advocating watching Soaps over seeing a professional for physical or emotional crises. But assuming that all the people all over the globe who follow the soaps not only have the insight to realize they have a problem, let alone have access to a professional, would be ridiculous. Soaps mattered when they appealed to the reality of day to day life, and offered potential solutions. People in denial, people in the middle of physical or emotional drama, had a chance daily to learn how to cope in a more healthy way.
Okay, certainly not ALL the soaps! And certainly not ALL the issues. But if you were a soap viewer, you could see how you, your family, your neighbor, or neighborhood could possibly benefit from how the writers on a soap saw a bigger problem 'mountain', and broke it down into a smaller 'molehill'. You had a chance to tackle real life with real solutions. In effect, early soaps were early 'Reality TV'. It was how people with access to daytime TV stayed in the loop and seemed to know more than their limited access to current issues would have warranted. It was a lifeline. It was a helping hand. It was when Soaps mattered.
Somewhere along the line, soap writers decided that the supernatural and way out crazy people were more exciting viewing and ratings boosters than the day to day problem solving. And for a while they were correct; viewers flocked to visions of the floating possessed Marlena, the emergence of satanic criminals, and hints of decade long feuds raged between opposing families. Trouble is, every time you up the ante on what's going to appeal to jaded soap viewers, you move further away from the reality of what brought the viewers in in the first place.
Now, producers, directors and writers search frantically for the next quick fix, the next uncharted psychological, psychosexual or psychotic delusion that will bring viewers running back to their show and boost ratings for a week or two. They toy with our minds and emotions, and like the looky loos on the highway craning to see a car crash, the viewers race to have a peek, and then just as quickly race away to the next soap with the next, newest ugliness. And then, they wonder why soap ratings overall have never been lower!
So why was I feeling ill this weekend? Probably overly stressed, or forgot to take medication. Maybe I was just exhausted from multi-tasking - I do try to do too much, my husband calls me 'your average over-achiever' - or maybe I was having a reaction to the Flu shot. I feel fine today, so I'll just file this incident away. But if one of the soaps had a character dealing with a similar situation, you can bet I'd be watching to see how that character was coping with the problem! Unfortunately, I'm more likely to find someone coping with being hypnotized into imagining they were a mass murderer, while dealing with being presumed dead on a desert island that had been transformed into a perfect simile of my neighborhood. Strangely, my little part of the world has a shortage of maniacal supervillains.