Friday, April 5, 2013

Real Life versus TV

Inactivity - especially forced inactivity - does not suit me.

I mean, I've always been low energy but I was always able to work and pursue my interests.

Enthusiasm for life.

Now ... it's gone.  At least for the time being.  Due to circumstances beyond my control.

During this time of debilitating circumstances and recovery, I've started following certain TV series on the net.  My favorites:  NCIS, Criminal Minds, NCIS Los Angeles and Bones.

However, I don't look at these shows as mere stories for entertainment; I look at them through the lens of recovering from abusive interpersonal relationships in a work setting.

I see the interactions, the verbal jabs and sparring, the distinctive individual personality traits and quirks that while they do cause tension are accepted - more or less - within the workplace.

Take NCIS for instance.  If this were a "normal" e.g. OK real life workplace, Gibbs, the functional mute who controls his team with mere looks, the occasional terse statement (and threat of unemployment) through the force of his dominant personality and the occasional slap upside the head would be considered abusive.

Dinozzo, our "rich" playboy of Italian origin, would be up on a daily basis for sexual harassment with his constant probing into his females counterpart's personal life.

Abby, the resident goth, is extremely intelligent and gifted in her work, also has distinctive although endearing personality traits including her atire.  Chatty. What real workplace would tolerate her dress code and quirks?  Even given her ability to do the job and do it well?  To solve the puzzles?  She would be a huge threat to those around her who were more average in their IQ and abilities.

She and McGee, the computer nerd and geek, are my two personal favorites.  Although Abby has been accepted by the crew as indispensable,  McGee still needs to earn his spot within the team's social framework. With his superior ability on all things technical aspect, McGee too is different from the others and Dinozzo loves to tease him, constantly putting him down in front of the others.  Constantly demoralizing him.  Constantly playing tricks on him.  Constantly ... well ... constantly being Dinozzo.

I could go on and on about these characters and their interactions.

But this is TV.   Real life is not like this.  A TV show has a team of writers, constantly working together on dialogue.  The dialogues are carefully scripted.  The interactions.  Everything.  Even who plays what role.  In fact, I believe that more time and care is spent on casting one character for a one-time role in an episode, than most employers put into researching those they hire for a permanent spot on their "team".

In the workplace, this kind of scripting simply does not - and cannot - exist.  We fly by the seat of our pants on a daily basis.  We interact.  We react.   Sometimes, we're even able to respond - but not always or often.

We don't put up with others' quirks.  We assume that if a person is different from us, there is something wrong with them.  Since we find them difficult to understand and work with, we want them out.

Forget tolerance.  Forget competence.  Forget everything but the heat of the moment.

In everyday life, we filter everything through the lens of our own personality, our own perceptions and assumptions about the world and our place in it.  We filter everything through our past experiences and how they have impacted us.

If we're lucky, we're also filtering things through the lens of recovery.  But so many people prefer to stay the way they are.  They don't know that there is anything better out there for them.  They're stuck - like Dinozzo in his 16 year old mentality.  They don't even know that they're stuck.  This is normal for them.  And because it's normal, they resist change any way they can.

Anyone who comes across their path who is different, emotionally healthier, etc. is perceived as a threat.

Threats you get rid of.

I wish life were more like a TV show.  With a set script.  A set destination.


  1. I also take my TV very seriously, applying my university-trained, literary criticism skills to various programs I love. It's a little too much for most people I know who just want to watch and forget, but it entertains there!

  2. Thank you so much, Beth. I accessed your blog and enjoyed it. Thanks so much for sharing.