“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” – Jim Rohn
This is a now famous quote by the motivational speaker, Jim Rohn. Like any quote that has ever been quoted, this notion has sparked much debate, yet I believe that it is true. Whenever I move to a new place or spend time with a new group of people, I see myself starting to act and speak in ways resembling this particular group. Sometimes this is a good thing. Sometimes it is not. I always stay more or less the same person, it is just the side of my personality most visible to the world varies depending on who I am with the most.
I am not really writing this post to argue for or against this idea. I am going to assume it is true and move on to my point. These days, I spend more time with a six month old baby more than any other human. I am pretty sure his personality is not affecting me all that much. The people I work with at my other part time job, rotate so frequently, that there is really no consistency for me to see any changes in myself based on those personalities. I guess I see my family quite a bit and a friend or two, but here in St. Louis, I spend a great deal of time alone. Or with my dog. So, a dog and a baby. Don’t feel sorry for me, the truth is, I like spending a lot of time alone. I am an introvert and need to be alone to recharge. I spend a lot of time with other people, just a tiny bit of time with a whole lot of different people, mostly trying to sell them things.
In the absence of a consistent social group, who do I start to become? Here is the scary part…
So, Orange is the New Black Season 2 was released on Netflix last Friday. I finished the entire season by Sunday. I am a pretty hardcore binge watcher when there is a show that catches my attention. While working at a major retail chain on Saturday and Sunday, I noticed that I was feeling very anti-authority. Not something I typically feel. I got irritated with another employee and my initial (mental) reaction was a bit extreme. I had spent most of my weekend with the inmates at Litchfield Penitentiary, and I could feel it affecting me. I notice this whenever I read an entire book in a two-day period or binge-watch entire series on Netflix. I start to become more like the characters in these stories. Not so terrible, or even noticeable, when I watch a ton of How I Met Your Mother or Friends. I may have become a little more stealthy or reticent (or possibly more clumsy and nerdy) when I watched the entire series of Chuck in a few weeks, but no major damage was done. I am well aware of the effect watching the entirety of Gossip Girl over the course of one Christmas vacation did to my behavior (Regina George had nothing on my mean girl demeanor, but I dressed impeccably, so it all evened out). And watching too many British television shows causes me to think in a British accent (I have to fight speaking in it), drink more tea, and get more irritated with my mother for not lying out a salad AND a dinner fork (that was mostly just when I watched the first three series of Downton Abbey in a very lovely weekend). But what about when I watched two seasons of Hannibal in a matter of days? Or House of Cards? Should we, as a new way of watching television becomes more normative, be concerned about the effect these characters are having on our day to day lives? In a world where fictional serial killers have become our heroes, are we walking down a dangerous path?
The effects of Orange is the New Black was only temporary. Gossip Girl, a little less so. Maybe it is just me who is susceptible to this, but I am not going to skip out on watching these amazing feats of storytelling because I may be prone to adopting certain characteristics. Though I may need to rethink exactly how much I watch before I take a break for some good old fashioned sitcoms revolving around 20-somethings who are searching for love in all the wrong places to land somewhere closer to the Brittany we all know and love.
Does this happen to anyone else?