Dexter Morgan, portrayed by Michael C. Hall, is a forensic blood splatter analyst who works for the fictitious Miami-Metro Police Department. He brings doughnuts to work in the morning and he’s great with the kids. Oh, and he’s a serial killer.
I’m always a little late when it comes to television series, but better late than never. Erika and I currently are on season 2 of the crime horror show Dexter (2006-2013). Each episode follows Dexter Morgan as he tries to find his identity in a classified world. Eventually the viewer is forced to choose whether or not Dexter’s acts are truly that of a vigilante or of just another psycho. Plot details aside, I thought Dexter made an excellent social example.
“The lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.” – Niccolo Machiavelli
When you approach someone, it’s important to get in their shoes. I mean, really get in their shoes. Who are they? What motivates them? What’s their passion? It only takes a few microseconds for someone to tell you zoned out.
Socializing is a craft. Like Dexter Morgan says, a craft takes a lot of time and diligence. Not that I’m saying you should coerce people like Dex, but he’s onto something besides the whole “I’m going to make you repent by killing you” thing. Under the guidance of his father Harry, Dexter learns basic lessons about life. Once he’s reached past the basic level Harry lays out, Dex has to figure out things by himself and learn what they mean in his own way.
Socializing is like that too. You can read all the neat how-to’s, neat tips and tricks that you want, but the truth is you just won’t know how until you actually do it. You’re going to mess up in the beginning and that’s okay. Mistakes are a natural part of how we learn. Sometimes you do or say things and feel embarrassed, but hey, at the end of the day life goes on. For those of us who aren’t particularly social butterflies, those who tend to be more apathetic, socially anxious, and insecure– those feelings of discomfort and uncertainty diminish and eventually fade into the background with practice (I’m currently struggling with public speech and pitching).
When you’re honing your skills, it’s important not to get distracted and focus on the mission, the bigger picture. Once you’ve come out of your shell, resist the urge to shut down. Don’t withdraw back into your own world– that’s too easy. It takes more guts to place yourself in a vulnerable position than to simply be unforgiving. Challenge is what makes us stronger; it builds your character.
Dexter has a lot more at stake than most of us, so his interest lies a lot more in others’ motives and intentions. He puts up performance to protect his facade. As a common person, I think we can learn from his example– but here’s where we have the advantage over Dexter! We can be in touch with our feelings. Lose yourself in a person, a moment, a conversation. Yes, you’ve got your priorities and endless tasks/errands on the to-do list, but for the brief moment that you’re engaged with someone else, it’s like a little break from the ruthless world. You’ll find you have a lot more in common with people than you expect.
While there’s a lot of spoiled and rotten apples out there, you can’t blame its organic-ness. It’s one of those things that sometimes happen over time, or maybe the apple farmer was horrible and never took care of his trees, or maybe you’ll find a new varieties of apples you’ve never heard of before (rotten on the outside, fuji clean on the inside? Who knows). At the end of the day, if you want that crisp, sweet taste of apple lingering in your mouth, it’s a risk worth biting into. I guess it doesn’t hurt to fake it, Dex.