How my life was shaped by 70s TV shows

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Erik Bowman
  • 45th Launch Support Squadron commander
My life was shaped by 1970s era TV shows. No, I'm not talking about "That 70's Show." I'm talking about shows like "Three's Company," "The Love Boat," "Fantasy Island," etc.

OK, before the snickering starts, please realize that I was in grade school, we only had one TV in the house and my mom (the adult) was making all the viewing choices, not me. But TV was TV, and like any other kid, I was addicted to it.

But if you look at all the TV shows, there was a common theme. The central joke or drama centered around someone telling a small lie that ballooned into a big one. Or someone hid something inconsequential, which eventually became a big deal simply because it wasn't talked about openly and honestly up front.

After seeing these shows week after week, I got conditioned such that when I saw the first tiny lie or hidden fact, I physically cringed - I knew exactly what was coming by the end of the episode. For those behavioral scientists out there, this is a textbook case of "conditioned response."

I have internalized these "lessons" from TV to this day. I don't even lie to telemarketers. Instead of not answering the phone or saying "Mr. Bowman isn't home", I take the uncomfortable step of picking up the phone and cutting them off in mid-sentence to say I'm not interested. Rude? Perhaps. But the benefit is they stop calling me. Otherwise, they'll just keep trying until I'm "home."

Why does this matter? Because I've also found that in our job, when you mess something up, owning up to it completely and quickly is the best policy.
Yes, you might suffer some minor repercussions. But more often, when I've accepted the blame for something I messed up, I'm often completely forgiven.

The same will probably be true for you as well. And no matter the consequence you actually suffer, your honesty will only impress the folks you work for and the peers you work with.