Darkness Retreat: Self-help or Preformative?

Tuesday, February 14th was the last time we heard from 4x NFL MVP and quarterback for the Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers on the Pat McAfee show before his ‘darkness retreat”, a meditation retreat that secludes Rodgers in a light-devoid living space and traps him with his thoughts. The retreat has been under a spotlight, as most offseasons have been for the gunslinger, who has a storied history with psychedelics and meditations that he’s come to talk about more in recent years. But there is an aspect to his retreat that is not being discussed as heavily, the fact it will be filmed.

“I’m not worried about the footage coming out of this” said Rodgers when questioned by AJ Hawk and Pat McAfee if the retreat will be filmed. “just wait for the videos… we’ll definitely make some of the videos available to your crowd, to your audience.”

The Observer Effect
This is particularly interesting because a camera’s presence can significantly alter how people behave and react in various situations. The awareness of being recorded can cause individuals to alter their behavior from their natural state., which has been a topic of interest for researchers in various fields, including psychology, sociology, and communication studies. There are many different ways in which people behave when they are aware of a camera, therefore many reasons why a person might not want to film a meditation retreat, even if they are one of the most skilled American Football players of all time.

When people are aware of a camera, they tend to become more conscious of their actions and appearance. This is commonly known as the “observer effect” or “Hawthorne effect.” In a study conducted by researchers from Stanford University, they found that participants in a mock trial who were aware that they were being recorded on video were more likely to dress conservatively and maintain better posture than those who were not being recorded. This suggests that the presence of a camera can cause people to behave in a more socially desirable manner.

Similarly, another study by researchers at the University of Groningen found that people who were aware that they were being recorded on video were more likely to conform to social norms and expectations. This is because individuals are more concerned about how others perceive them when they know they are being watched. They may also become more self-conscious and less likely to engage in behaviors that may be perceived as deviant or unconventional.

Why Not Film a Darkness Retreat?
So, why might a person not want to film a meditation retreat? Simple, it is too dark to see anything. Jokes aside, it should go without words to understand that it is counterproductive and unrealistic to expect individuals to act ‘socially desirable’ in a completely isolated pitch-black environment that is designed to foster self-improvement. Meditation retreats are designed to provide a peaceful and quiet environment where individuals can focus on their inner thoughts and feelings away from the perception of others and in the case of a dark retreat, even away from the perception of yourself. The presence of a camera can disrupt this environment and cause individuals to feel self-conscious or distracted.

The nature of Rodgers’ darkness retreat requires him to engage in activities that may be perceived as unconventional or outside of social norms. Filming these activities can make him second guess how he involves himself at the moment leaving the potential for him to be consciously or subconsciously discouraged from fully immersing himself in the retreat.

Does it Actually Matter?
Although Rodgers has performed his craft of pigskin tossing in front of hundreds of millions of people at the highest level for well over a decade, this does not give any reason he may be adapted to camera pressure when in a unique circumstance. Given that fact, it is completely reasonable for him to want a recording of the event for himself in the future, the water gets muddy when it is introduced to the rest of the world. We will have to wait and see exactly what footage and how much of it gets released to gauge exactly how performative Aaron Rodgers’s darkness retreat is.

If you’d like to learn more about the implications and potential of Aaron Rodgers’ life after the darkness retreat check out What to Expect From Aaron Rodgers’ Darkness Retreat 
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