Our academic discussion devolved into debates over the merits of Survivor versus The Biggest Loser, and So You Think You Can Dance versus American Idol. We talked about the pros and cons of our personal favorites as heatedly as we would the pros and cons of using various textbooks. Because we shared this love for what some might consider junk TV, we found a new warmth in these blooming relationships.

Not only did we all watch reality TV, we also shared another common trait. Susan said, "You know, I've watched all these shows for years, but I've never voted. Not one of the other five of us had ever voted either. We were all passive voyeurs."

I reflected on why I never have and never will vote for a favorite on Idol or Dancing. It's not that I don't care who wins. I care a lot, at least while the season is underway. Once it's over, not so much. I'm also someone who takes my civic duty seriously. I've voted in almost every local and national election since the long ago day when I was first allowed to cast my ballot. I feel that you can't complain if you don't vote; you have to take your share of responsibility for how things turn out.

Where politics are concerned, however, I seldom have a real decision to make. I know without a doubt who I think should hold the highest offices in the land, yet I have all the problems in the world making a decision about who should get the mirror ball on Dancing with the Stars.

I find it difficult to make decisions, especially when I'm asked to pick a favorite of anything. I can't answer if someone asks what my favorite color is, or the one food I would take if I were stuck on a desert island. One day I might feel like a sunny yellow fits my mood, while on another it might be violet that speaks to me. With all the beautiful colors in the world, why pick just one? Same with foods -- salty, sweet, juicy, crunchy -- there are too many favorites to make a choice.

I resent having to choose just one -- I want it all. Making a choice is a very black-or-white exercise, and I'm a shades-of-gray kind of person. On the TV talent shows, I find that I might like the manner of one, the personal story of another, or the stunning talent of a third contestant. I want them all to win, and if they can't, I don't want to be the one to choose.

Another reason I will never vote for a reality show contestant is the very reason that I do vote in political elections. I don't want to feel in any way responsible for the outcome. When I watch the poor singer weep at the bad news that she is going home, I like knowing that it wasn't my doing. When I see a dancer who had won my heart leave forever, I can complain about how stupid the voters are and know that I wasn't one of them.

I don't feel competent to make such important choices. I know it's just TV, but these decisions change people's lives. Who am I to change someone's life? Too much responsibility. I'd like to leave the decisions in the hands of experts, and blame them for the outcomes that seem wrong.

Though my fellow professors and I never vote, there are millions of people who call in many times over. Why? How do these voters feel so sure about their decisions? How do they know who is best? Or do they just not care if they get it right? Aha -- maybe that's why we educators refuse to vote. We want to give the right answer and there isn't one. We want to get an A on the test, even when no one is giving grades.

I'm happy that there are people out there who make those calls and cast those votes. You people have guts. You're not afraid of being wrong. You're not afraid to make a decision. You don't care that I'm sitting home in my voteless superiority calling you names for causing my favorite contestant to leave the show.