“It wasn’t 2013 with Facebook and Twitter where everybody told all their business as soon as it happened.” Judge Lauren Lake, Paternity Court.
The judge is referring to a case where a mom pretended to know the father of her unborn child because she was too embarrassed to let her own mom know she was sleeping with two men.
Now, 29 years later, not only is the mom tearfully revealing these facts, but she will be revealing them to millions when “Paternity Court,” syndicated in 92 percent of the country, debuts on September 23rd.
So, what happened to the days when family secrets were held tight? And were those days actually better? Is it honor or hypocrisy to pretend that everything in your family is neat and tidy all the time?
Years ago, I heard Sister Souljah talk about how freeing it is to know that your neighbor is going through the same thing you’re going through. She believes that black people, and black women in particular, would have kept the family ties we once had with our “tribes” if we hadn’t at some point decided that to pretend all was well…at work, at school, even at church.
Had women two generations ago been able to say, “you’re in an abusive marriage, so am I,” they could have formed bonds, shared tears and shared the load together.
Their unity could have become their strength.
If you talk to women who were reaching adulthood during the years talk shows like Phil Donahue and Oprah were first introduced, they were amazed to hear problems addressed on television that their own mothers had never spoken of out loud. Everything from incest to schizophrenia was out in the open and it motivated many people to get help because they knew they weren’t suffering alone.
As sex and even violence became more common topics on TV, those talk shows lost their shock value. The ratings needle only jumped when the bizarre topics were covered. Enter Geraldo, Jerry Springer, Sally Jesse Raphael, Ricki Lake…and the list goes on and on.
From there to court television shows and then to reality shows and all are now heavily bolstered by social media.
Even traditional media – the morning and evening news shows – all include personal stories that wouldn’t have been considered news before the inception of tabloid talk shows.