What Bob Can Teach Us

Don’t worry, this is not a pitch for one of those “The Philosophy of [insert pop culture subject here]” books that most of us only buy because we are desperate to read ANYTHING about said subject.

No, this is something that occurred to me yesterday while going through Season 4, Episode 11 of Soap. Like much of Season 4, I had completely forgotten a brilliant bit in which (spoilers, spoilers) Danny is in hospital after being shot, and Bob is going over his condition with Dr. Saxon:

Bob: OK doc, give it to me straight. What’s the damage to the pancreas, colon, kidneys and duodenum?

Doctor: Well there’s a lateral rupture of one kidney. There’s capsular damage to the other but-

Bob: I see, so there’s a possibility of uremia renal shutdown and peritonitis.

Doctor: I tend to concur.

[to Bob]: What are you talking about?

Bob: Shut up.

Aside from the obvious comedy in this situation is Soap‘s primary running joke with Chuck and Bob: everybody else forgets that Bob isn’t “real” (though I think there’s a strong case to be made for believing quite the opposite).

What Bob Can Teach Us

I’ve found myself recently believing that one of the keys to happiness in this world of 24/7 information bombardment is refusing to allow yourself to be drawn into the whole dog and pony show, whatever the subject.

For example, it seems that the moment you start getting involved in the “us and them” bickering of politics — bloody Republicans/Democrats/Labor/Torries/Lib-Dems/etc. — you’ve missed any opportunity to maintain your mental health. The 99% vs. the 1%, North vs. South, this team vs. that team, reality TV vs. scripted TV — whatever the skirmish, you lose.

So after watching that episode of Soap yesterday, it suddenly hit me that any time I hear myself devoting the slightest brain power to weighing the merits of the Occupy Wall Street crowd, the Kardashians, the European Union, I’m essentially bickering with Bob. Listen to talk radio and you can hear people up and down whatever great land you happen to live in bickering with Bob.

Now the beauty of Soap is that usually at some point whoever is bickering with Bob will suddenly realize that he’s just a puppet and snap out of it. Yet these days it seems it’s taking us longer and longer to have that moment of clarity when arguing over the same subjects we’ve debated for decades; some of us never experience that epiphany at all.

Yes, all of these subjects (with the possible exception of the Kardashians) require some thought and some action, but increasingly it seems the amount of heart we put into these debates is indirectly proportional to the likelihood we will be able to change anything.

And all things being equal, I think I’d rather argue with the real Bob.


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