fear, netflix, pop culture

Stranger Things

I’ve never enjoyed scary or suspenseful things. I once left a theater in tears during the middle of the movie because I was so scared. Another time I was at a sleep over and they decided to watch It. Why? Why does anyone think this is a good idea?! I crouched behind the kitchen counter and occasionally peaked over when I thought I could handle the scene. Most of the time, however, I sat behind that counter listening in terror, waiting for the next suspenseful music to freak everyone out.
So, when I suggested that we start watching Stranger Things, my husband was a little perplexed. I hadn’t heard anything specific about the show – only that people were hooked and couldn’t stop watching it. I know all about Netflix shows – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Grace & Frankie, Orange is the New Black. I can handle a Netflix show. It never dawned on mean what the title might suggest.

We’re almost done with the first season. I’ve got a love-hate relationship with it. I want to know how it ends but I also want to stop watching it. Tough choices. Anyway, the other night as I was sitting there with one hand holding a blanket up to my face ready to cover my eyes at any moment and the other hand holding tightly to my husband’s arm, I looked at him and wondered how he wasn’t scared. So I asked him, “How does this not scare you?” His response: “Because it’s not real.”

It’s not real. Huh. He’s right. It’s not real. And yet, it feels so real when I sit there watching it. I know that monster isn’t real. The characters aren’t real. The town and the creepy, closed off building aren’t real. So why do they feel so real? I’ve been afraid of unreal things my whole life – cartoons, haunted houses, tv shows. They have all scared me at times. And yet none of it is real. Why does it feel so real?

There is so much in life that isn’t real. That email I got that cut me to the core – it wasn’t real. Well, it wasn’t really about me. The woman who stalked me down in the Target parking lot because I didn’t use a turn signal – it wasn’t real. Or, it wasn’t really about me. All of this causes me to wonder – we do I let the things of this world that aren’t real, or hold little significance, effect me so much? Why do emails or tv shows or strangers in a parking lot feel so incredibly real?

I have big feelings. Big feelings about my dog and my nieces/nephews. Big feelings about birthdays and funerals. Big feelings about chocolate ice cream and pepperoni pizza. Although there are times I wish my feelings were a little smaller, these big feelings make it easy for me to connect with others. Big feelings are good when you work with people who are going to through happy and hard times. Big feelings make it possible for me to relate to others no matter what they are facing. Big feelings mean I laugh hard and cry harder.

In the end it’s hard for me to separate real from unreal. I guess I’d rather be wrong and assume it’s all real and feel those big feelings than think it’s all fake and feel nothing at all.



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