Hi Leslie. I can relate to how you felt after the show aired...especially people coming up to you in the street. That lack of privacy would drive me psychotic. Happy to hear you are healing.
And now Carl: Isn't it our nature to go towards pleasure and away from pain? How does that fit in with your ape scenario? Do we want to feel pleasure and watch others feel pain? I don't! (I can't watch even the promos for "Fear Factor"). I think people do go both ways...remember early TV shows where long lost relatives were reunited? We all cried. "Schindler's List"? And Queen for a Day? Even make-overs are hard to turn off.
So, while I'm not disagreeing that we can't turn away from a train wreck, we are attracted to other, more positive, entertainment. Maybe it takes less effort for network executives to manipulate us to feel the fear-based emotions and that's why so much of it is out there.
What is wisdom if not making the choice of increasing life-promoting, non-destructive behaviors? If the general population were wiser, would shows like "Trading Spouses" get the ratings? But we had that discussion already.