Apple TV+ has recently come out with a show that challenges the meaning of work-life balance. It’s creepy, addictive, fascinating, and plain funny. It bridges the worlds of technology and psychological thriller in a harmonious convergence of endless opportunity! At the end of the season, all I could think was Zoolander made this?!
The main character, Mark, is part of a program called Severance, which is a surgical procedure that literally splits his ‘personal life’ mind and his ‘work life’ mind. His office mind never leaves work, has no memories of growing up or life outside the office, and can’t even perceive the start and end of the day. Imagine walking into a revolving door and circling right back around. At that moment of rotation, you went home, probably enjoyed some time with friends, slept, then came ‘back’ to work.
Work You knows nothing but work. Outside You knows nothing about work.
There are so many moral implications that Severance seeks to pick at and unpack. How do you know what you are doing at work? Work You could be a vicious murderer, while Outside You has no idea. When you quit your job, Work You dies! Is it okay to, in a sense, kill yourself so that… (Outside) YOU can live? If Work You is a sentient, productive being, then don’t You deserve human rights? Don’t You deserve even a smidgen of knowledge that Outside You has a family, friends, people who love You…. Them?
At first, Severance seems like the perfect solution for people who don’t want to carry the weight of the world into work and those who don’t want to bring work home with them. If I can do my 8 hours, then enter my leisure activities or studying with a clear mind, I can be unstoppable! But then I think about how many mentors I have surrounding me at work, the work friends I’ve made who’ve become friends (sans delineation), the growth that I’ve had in my personal life as a direct result of the things I’ve learned at work. It’d be a sad world. A dull world. A stunted world.
I am part of a small group of people who actually take joy from work when the stressors of the Outside world don’t weigh me down and stress me out! Work helped refine my voice and the way that I approach new, foreign things. Outside Leandra could talk to anyone on her level with charm, skill, and wit. She was magnetic— when she wanted to be! But Outside Leandra, while confident, was wary of talking with people whom she perceived to be higher up on the totem pole. Sure, Work Leandra had her moments of wavering confidence too, but she decided that there were more important places to focus her attention.
Work Leandra took on more projects, stepped in when she knew what she was talking about, showed her face and spoke up more. Because Work Leandra became more confident in her abilities, Outside Leandra took note and realized she could do the same Outside and speak to people at all levels. And that’s just one example of the symbiotic nature of The Leandras.
So yes, the idea of Severance might seem grand, but Work Leandra and Outside Leandra add pieces to the Venn diagram that form Me in the center. I wouldn’t want to cut that bond.
Plus, again, the moral implications!