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Serial

December 18, 2014

Have you been listening to Serial?

I heard about it from friends on Twitter and after a couple of weeks umming and ahhing I decided to give it a listen. I think that was week 8 and I listened to all the podcasts up until that point in just over a day. I was completely hooked, and that was quite an impressive feat as it isn’t the sort of thing that I would listen to when the kids are around.

If you haven’t heard Serial is a podcast where they unfold a non fiction story week by week over the course of a season. This is from the About Page of the website:

Season One

On January 13, 1999, a girl named Hae Min Lee, a senior at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County, Maryland, disappeared. A month later, her body turned up in a city park. She’d been strangled. Her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was arrested for the crime, and within a year, he was convicted and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. The case against him was largely based on the story of one witness, Adnan’s friend Jay, who testified that he helped Adnan bury Hae’s body. But Adnan has always maintained he had nothing to do with Hae’s death. Some people believe he’s telling the truth. Many others don’t.

Sarah Koenig, who hosts Serial, first learned about this case more than a year ago. In the months since, she’s been sorting through box after box (after box) of legal documents and investigators’ notes, listening to trial testimony and police interrogations, and talking to everyone she can find who remembers what happened between Adnan Syed and Hae Min Lee fifteen years ago. What she realized is that the trial covered up a far more complicated story, which neither the jury nor the public got to hear. The high school scene, the shifting statements to police, the prejudices, the sketchy alibis, the scant forensic evidence – all of it leads back to the most basic questions: How can you know a person’s character? How can you tell what they’re capable of? In Season One of Serial, she looks for answers.

As you might imagine at times it is not the most cheerful thing to listen to but it really is so compelling. Today’s episode was the last in this season and I don’t want to give any information or spoilers to anyone. At the beginning in the very first episode Sarah Koenig states that she was initially interested by this because it was clear that someone had to be lying. Whether or not Adnan is guilty of this murder either he or someone else is lying.

After hours of listening I am left feeling extremely confused. I have no idea what to believe. And that itself makes me feel so very uncomfortable.

In my day to day life I am a nice person. I am trusting and friendly and I always believe the best in someone. I am trusting to a fault. Mr C is the complete opposite – where I trust he always imagines the worst. He will always be suspicious of people and think they have an ulterior motive. I tease him about it, and always suggest that people deserve the benefit of the doubt. And I will always immediately jump to defend whomever we might be talking about, giving different reasons for their behaviour. Because a) I want to believe the best in people and b) I hate being wrong so I try and prove him wrong first. Being married to me is a blast sometimes!

I know the way that I am is terribly naive. But I want to believe that people are intrinsically good. That they mean well and do their best and that they are honest and forthright. And I don’t understand how people can be anything but. And so at the end of this series of podcasts I am left feeling my usual frustrations at the world. Why can’t people just tell the truth? I know that in this case they are being asked to remember things that happened a long time ago but even when it all happened there is such a mix of conflicting information that there must be a lot of people being economical with the truth or just telling lies. I know that they are probably trying to protect themselves or others but at the end of the day this is a murder that we are talking about. This is why I can’t watch the news – I don’t want to know about all the lies and bad shit in this world.

Real life is so subjective. One thing that could mean nothing to me can make another person feel betrayed and unhappy. There are no neat little boxes. Some people lie so convincingly they can even fool themselves into believing how something happened. If only in real life your nose grew every time you told a lie (although as a parent I would then be screwed).

I don’t want to live in cloud cuckoo land where everyone is happiness and light (especially not in the morning – cheerful people prior to 9am make me want to break things) but I would like to think that I am living surrounded by decent kind people that care about me. Life needs its ups and downs I know that. But I think that people should really try hard to be good people. To be polite and nice. To help those that need it. To tell the truth, even if the truth hurts.

My thoughts are going round in circles and I know that this post is too. I think that I will just go back to watching television where everything is always solved, wrapped up in a beautiful parcel with motive and how it was done. All this uncertainty of real life has really given me a headache.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Elizabeth Rebecca December 18, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    I love these honesty posts.

    Lizzie’s Daily Blog

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