We’re all influenced as we grow up by the things we watch and listen to. Most of the time these are just passing phases that enter our subconscious before being gradually forgotten. However, a few of them create such a strong connection that they become ingrained into our personality to the point where we actually become defined by them.
In my case, one of these influences ended up guiding my career path. If you don’t know what Ghostbusters is, then A.) Where have you been? and B.) I almost feel sorry for you. The story of these scientists creating fantastical technology to help them achieve their goals captured my young imagination from pretty much the first time I laid eyes on them.
Unlike a lot of people my age, it wasn’t the movie that got me hooked but the Real Ghostbusters animated TV series. In this, the team would have a ‘monster of the week’ to deal with, but rather than having brute strength like Lion-O or He-Man they had to rely on their brains and wit in order to pull through. The stories and humour kept me hooked, while the overall message that problems can always be solved by reasoned thinking gradually wormed its way into my young pliable mind.
The episode that has stuck most in my mind is titled “The Spirit of Aunt Lois”. This is an allegorical story in which we are shown what harm fake science can cause. A fake psychic sets up his equipment that ends up turning normally friendly and benevolent spirits into a violent mob. The GBs then have to use their knowledge and tech to solve the problem. If the titular Aunt Lois had gone with the proven, in-universe science then she would have known from the start that the spirits were friendly. Essentially, this episode basically started my belief in evidence-based science.
The idea that all knowledge can be useful led me continually pursue it, much to the annoyance of my parents, and eventually to pursue a career in science and engineering. It also led me to apply logic to most situations, even in my formative years. For example, when playing with Lego I wouldn’t just through stuff together. Each part would have a reason for being there and have to be in its correct place despite being a completely creative endeavour.
I am now a Process Engineer, using knowledge to solve problems on a chemical plant. This isn’t quite as fantastical as busting ghosts, but I always was a realist even at a young age. And in fact, it wasn’t until recently that I made this connection between my career path and the show I watched and loved as a child.
Now looking back at the series (it’s all on Netflix, in case you weren’t previously aware), I can see that it objectively isn’t necessarily the best show ever, but the core message is still there. I didn’t know at the time how much this franchise would affect my life. I just thought it was a bit of fun escapism or more likely as I was a child, a really cool show.
So, there you have it. My story, and just one of the ways that the things I loved as a child have helped shape the person I am as an adult.
We’d love to hear of any similar stories you might have, and how the things you watched, read and played with as a youngster have impacted your grown-up world. Feel free to share your stories in the comments.
The writer of this piece was: David Gladman
David Tweets from @the_gladrags