Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Obscure Interests

Sometimes, I'm browsing along on-line and I see a common theme pop up.  It's usually a name or some meme that has burrowed it's way into American society understood by everyone it seems, except me.  I seem to be the last to know what's trendy.  What is what the world of celebs and hot new actors.  I tend to find out about it while it's on it's way out of popular focus to make room for the new hot item that I'll be just as oblivious to.  It's always been this way.  I remember a teacher teasing some kids at school about 'The New Kids On The Block'. (yes I know I'm dating myself with that!) in 6th grade.  I looked around the classroom thinking that maybe I missed some new kids.  I thought that perhaps we had some new students that the girls were particularly taken with.  Nope.  I was sure embarrassed to find out different.  I went home and begged for my parents to buy me a teen magazine.  They said no, thinking I was too young, but what they didn't understand was that I wanted it to study, so I could keep up with conversations at school.  I was out of the loop and it was killing me socially.  I remember getting into quite a lot of trouble for having a huge meltdown over them saying no, because to them it looked like I was just having a tantrum over being told I couldn't have something I wanted.  I don't know why I didn't tell them that why it was so important to me to have it.  It never occurred to me to say anything to them other than I needed it. 

Nowadays, I don't really care what's what in the entertainment world.  Today, I've seen lots of posts and talks about Kate Winslett.  I don't even know who that is.  Last week is was Ryan Goseling.  Didn't know who he was, either. I do now, but I will likely never see any of his movies.  They don't interest me, and I don't even find him all that particularity attractive.

So, what do I watch on TV?  What does interest this odd aspie?  Here's a list of most of my favorite shows.  See if you can see a pattern, and guess what it is that captures my interest.

Hoarders-Buried Alive
My Strange Addiction
Freaky Eaters
My Cat From Hell
In The Bedroom-With Dr. Laura Berman
The Daily Show
10 Things You Didn't Know About
The Regular Show
Hot In Cleveland
Big Bang Theory
Saturday Night Live
Law & Order

I think that's the bulk of them.  Have you guessed what almost all of these have in common?  With the exception of Law and Order, none are dramas, and most are non-fiction.  Most deal with anxiety based disorders, or other mental health issues.  When I watch shows like Hoarders, or Obsessed I get to see people interact in real time.  These shows aren't staged, or faked.  I get the opportunity to sit as an observer and people watch.  I get to see the facial expressions and body language of people in moments of anger, sadness, and anxiety.  This allows me to store that information, to recognize it later in real time.  I also get the benefit of seeing these very dysfunctional people living in their worlds they've built for themselves in order to cope with what is usually trauma and loss.  My empathy grows as I see the struggles that these people have faced.  I hear their stories, I see how they have lived, I see how they've tried and feel their pain.  I carry this out into the world with me as an extra bit of Theory of Mind, remembering that others sometimes do what can with what they have, and sometimes, those are poor choices, but they're not mine.  I am reminded not to judge others for things I may not know the whole story.  I see lots of mental illness, personality disorders, and yes autism in these shows.  I see people sometimes that are so enmeshed in their pain that they spew it at everyone that comes near.  I see some blame all their issues on one person, usually the child that's the most 'normal' in their family.  I see alot of my mother in these shows.  When I see it as an observer only my perspective shifts.  I see how painful and wrong it is for the child of some of these people, even if the child is an adult at the time.  They've led a life of being the scapegoat and will never get any kind of real love from their parent.  I can clearly see how this isn't their fault, so in some ways I am able to extend this compassion to myself.  I like to be able to see conflict resolution as well as some of the ways these people handle their anxieties successfully. It's inspiring, humbling, and a learning experience for me.

Of course, I do like a good dose of comedy in there, as well, to balance things out.  I just don't like fiction and drama so much.  Not in the books I read, and not in my TV viewing.  If you're not making me think, then you'd better be making me laugh, or my interest is minimal!