And the Real Winners Are?

By Linda Commito

Even if you are not typically a TV watcher, it would be hard to ignore the plethora of reality programs, showcasing ordinary people who are making their voices heard, hoping to become stars. I will confess that I love to see these contestants, some as young as 13, step outside of their comfort zone, gain confidence and sing their hearts out to millions of people.

What I find fascinating is the totally different styles of two of the top shows: The Voice vs. The X Factor. The judges on The Voice are supportive and encouraging of each of the contestants, whether they are on their team or not. They are playful, humorous, compassionate and engaging with the audience, the contestants, and with each other. Interspersed with frequent individual and group hugs, we get the feeling that we’re all part of a loving “family.”

The interactions of the judges on The X Factor on the other hand, headed by Simon Cowell, are oftentimes strained and antagonistic, especially when Simon tells one of the women to “shut up” whenever they give feedback that he doesn’t like. I feel like I’m watching a dysfunctional family as they talk over each other to try to get their point made. And pity the poor contestants that Simon doesn’t approve of, like the singer who was near tears when he was told, “You are a hamster and will always be one.”

Really, is it necessary to put someone down when they have the courage to try their best?

Simon instructs The X Factor contestants, “You’re here to kill the competition,” a marked contrast to the contestants on The Voice, who support each other and hold hands when they are ready to hear the results of the voting and then hug each other, whether they are the winners or are comforting to those who will be leaving.

I was sharing these observations with my friend Jessie Williams and she commented,

“It’s the chimps vs. bonobos!”

I laughed at the accurate assessment based on Jessie’s studies of bonobos, our closest living relative. She came up with innumerable comparisons:

“Chimps are male dominated, and use aggression, hostility, and intimidation to gain power and control over others. Bonobos are matriarchal in their social structure and utilize cooperation and positive interactions to maintain social networks with little aggression. They are highly empathetic.”

Is it any wonder that the ratings of The Voice far exceed X Factor?

It is an interesting microcosm in our world today of what is working and what isn’t.
Those corporations and governments that are of the old world order – dominant, controlling, ego driven – are finding that they are out of step, even if they still maintain a semblance of power.

What is successful today, or at least what we are hopefully evolving to, is a spirit of collaboration, communication, and community.

In a society that is stuck in the chimp mentality, we are finding that it doesn’t serve the majority, it doesn’t make us feel part of a tribe, and certainly doesn’t inspire us to be all that we can be and to contribute to the well-being of the whole.

As humans, we love to watch what some believe to be our ancestors, sharing 98 percent of our DNA. Maybe we can learn a thing or two from the bonobos. What if we could create a world that was loving, cooperative, playful and fun? Taking it a step forward, what if we could celebrate the successes of others, regardless of what we stand to gain or lose, because it ultimately benefits everyone?

Whether I am tuning into a reality show or into real life interactions, I am applauding the real winners—the people who have the gumption to get up on stage and to sing or to speak out for all they’re worth—who are trying to create a better world and are supportive of each other in being the best that they can be. Just witnessing their evolvement and success makes us all feel like winners!

Linda Commito, author, speaker, entrepreneur, consultant and teacher, is passionate about her vision to leave this world a kinder, more loving and interconnected place. Her award-winning book of inspirational stories, Love is the New Currency, demonstrates how we can each make an extraordinary difference in the lives of others through simple acts of love and kindness. She recently volunteered at a Title One elementary school in Sarasota, FL, working with more than 500 students to create and facilitate the “Kindness Starts With Me” program. Please visit for more information and/or to sign up for an uplifting monthly newsletter.

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