Thinking About: The Lives of Others
I’ve been lucky so far in the people I work with. To date I haven’t had the misfortune of working with people I don’t like or even actively dislike. The present team I’m a part of is no exception to this. We are a diverse lot from very different backgrounds who have, over the past few years, gelled together as a highly effective project management team. Inevitably though there is somewhat of a fly in the ointment.
About half of the team seem to be inordinately interested in the lives of other people. In our periodic downtimes between the crises we handle on a daily basis, when the conversations regarding work have been exhausted, the talk often turns to the public and private lives of those we work with. Some members of the team seem fascinated with the fashion and hair colour choices of those around us, others speculate on sexual orientation and holiday destinations, others gripe about people who bend (or possibly break) in-house rules and seem to get away with it. I’m sure that when I’m not around they talk about me too – though I can’t imagine what they say. I doubt if I give them much to gossip about. Of course when everyone’s habits have been discussed to death (again) the conversation will inevitably move onto the latest celebrity goings on, who is shagging who, who is having who’s baby and the rest, then there’s so-called reality TV and conversations about what X was wearing and that they never liked them anyway. After 20-30 minutes of this I sometimes want to scream. With what else is happening in the world their focus on trivia (which actually gives trivia a bad name) astounds me. Maybe it’s because they don’t want to face what’s really happening out there. Maybe they just can’t think about it without going off the deep end – so it’s The Apprentice and My Big Fat Greek Wedding instead.
I do wonder if their lives are so empty that they need to incorporate other people’s lives into their own to add a bit of sparkle. But this can’t be true. They have lives – partners, families, young children and everything else that goes with it. Surely it should be someone like me who needs to wrap themselves in other people’s every day existence to add something more to their lives. On the contrary, I struggle to understand why anyone is really interested enough in the lives of total strangers to be hooked on Big Brother and all of the other relentless prime-time TV shows that bring so-called ordinary people into our homes. It wouldn’t be so bad if any of these people where actually interesting. As far as I can tell they are far from it. Maybe, as has been put forward to explain the Jerry Springer phenomena, it’s that watching people who are basically fuck-ups makes the viewing audience feel good because no matter how bad our lives get at least we’re not as bad as those people. Maybe that’s it? Maybe my life just isn’t too complicated, too boring or too frantic for me to need to relax in front of the Box while watching other people’s lives fall apart? Maybe I’m not watching the numberless mind-numbing ‘Talent’ shows because I know that most of the people simply don’t have the talent of a hamster. The shows are designed not to sift out the talented ones but for us, the audience, to laugh at those who don’t have talent but only think they do. This, I’m afraid, is what passes for entertainment in the 21st Century and I will have none of it. But I digress……