I’ve been the subject of bullying in the workplace. It’s not something I can bring to human resources. It’s not something that anyone is trying to keep under wraps. No one is defending me while everyone is sweeping it under the rug and acting like my emotions don’t matter.
I sit at my desk while people make wise cracks, point, and laugh. They ostracize me and use my ignorance against me to defeat me emotionally when I’d much rather be doing work.
This isn’t because I have some sort of outlandish views on controversial topics. It’s not because I don’t fit in with everyone surrounding me in my cubicles. It isn’t because I’ve created enemies through my work. It’s all because I don’t watch Game of Thrones.
Every Monday morning, someone shouts over my desk to an adjacent office, “Hey, you watch Thrones last night?” They launch into a conversation using words that I can’t decipher. I don’t know if they’re fictional worlds, species of dragons, or character names that people wouldn’t be able to read off a piece of paper if it weren’t said on the television show.
In favor of watching an hour of fantasy to close out my weekend, I indulge in situational comedies that don’t keep me on the edge of my seat. They’re light, fast, entertaining, and last no more than thirty minutes.
But Game of Thrones is a cult unlike any cult I’ve ever seen before. From the second I wake up on a Sunday, people are counting down on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram alike. Between one-upping each other and posting gifs of characters dressed in chainmail and Robin Hood-esque robes, I can’t even get a word on online if I’m not actively, obsessively, and relentlessly entering the Thrones conversation.
Scarily, this cult has bled into the workplace. And it’s not just me. My other non-Game of Thrones watching coworkers are feeling the heat as well. One was even victimized for her love of Harry Potter after she declared that she does not, in fact, watch Game of Thrones. This girl has spent countless hours reading Harry Potter books in addition to watching the movies but is now reduced to a “childish fangirl” by a bunch of people who probably have never picked up a Game of Thrones book, let alone know that there even is a series of books.
I sit here hoping no one notices me. I pray that no one asks if I’m caught up. I hope that no one tells me to “cover my ears” for fear of spoilers as if I’m somehow current on the fifty episodes leading up to that moment. But when I mutter, “Oh, no, I don’t watch Game of Thrones,” it’s an all-out bloodbath.
“How can you not watch Game of Thrones?” they ask before telling me that I “know nothing” and “can’t talk” because I’m uneducated in the Thrones realm. I, a grown man, sit coyly at my desk listening to full-grown adults discuss a fantasy drama television series for the better part of an hour every Monday morning during a season’s run. It’s like they can’t hear themselves. It’s like they don’t realize that they’re discussing wards, kings, ghosts, magic, and dragons that all exist in a fantasy land. But somehow I’m the weirdo for not partaking. It makes no sense.
I feel helpless. I’m not going to catch up on 50+ hours of television just to feel a part of their nerd herd. I don’t have that kind of time and my futile attempts to watch the first episode of season one has ended in me being asleep on my couch forty minutes in.
I don’t know where to go or what to do. At this point, my only choice is to start watching this season solely so I can spoil it for them. Assholes. .
Listen to Episode 1 of Oysters, Clams, and Cockles — A ‘Game of Thrones’ Podcast, also known as the root of my bullying.
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