The Bystander Syndrome


April 20 , 2019 . By Tsion Fisseha


Tsion Fisseha is a writer and head of foreign languages in the news department at a local TV station. She has been a part of a pan African poetry slam competition representing Ethiopia and is a member of a rock band entitled the Green Manalishi. She can be reached at tsion.f.terefe@gmail.com.


The legendary TV show Game of Thrones returned last week for the first episode of the last season amidst the frenzied anticipation of thousands upon thousands of fans that have been waiting for two years.

This series has long captured the imagination of audiences with its convoluted political intrigues, plot twists and absorbing characters. Social media has played quite an impressive role in keeping the series alive by posting games of which character one is, and fandom has made the show so influential it is hard to find young people that have not watched the show, let alone have not heard of it.

While such entertainment and hobbies serve a dire need for a well-functioning brain and even society, these needs, if not focused correctly in an orderly manner, can be a waste of time and energy. The actors, producers and directors are all living their lives, creating something and making use of their time. However, the truth still stands that they are achieving and the spectator is, well, doing just that, spectating.

Life keeps going on while we are too busy making plans. We all have dreams and aspirations and most of them are far-fetched. And as we plan and procrastinate, our wither away entangled in web of our own making.

One of the things that act as a barrier more than mere planning is sitting on the couch and watching someone else accomplish plans that have been on their horizon. Being a bystander, the to-do list that does not evolve into action is more horrific and conceivably more heartbreaking.

“Bystanders wandered in and out of the merchant’s stall, passing the time, talking of dreams they might purchase. Workers and slaves stooped from labour asked timidly for dreams of wine and ease. Women asked for dreams of love, and men for dreams of women,” wrote American author and academic, Daniel Berlinski.

This truth surpasses Game of Thrones, a movie that takes at least an hour out of one’s daily routine. And it would be a moot point to argue that the world could live without it. But careful consideration should be made while listing the pros and cons of an hour that is impossible to get back.

One could meditate, exercise, sort out the closet, apply for a job go to college or trainings and catch up with family and friends in a time face-to-face get togethers. All that is required is a little push and will.

There are different ways to be productive by attempting to balance or juggle the necessities of life. And if that is the case for all the huge fans and viewers of Game of Thrones and other shows and means of entertainment, then one more episode will not put a dent in the success we are meant to have.

Many artists spend hours on YouTube watching other artists painting portraits and abstracts, while their brushes and paints are thrown in the dark corner of the room. Poets view spoken word poetry with the excuse of going through a dry spell.

It is true that learning from people in the same work line of or field can be of immense help, but only if the purpose comes with the intention to grow.

There are two types of people in the world: those who make things happen and those who live long enough to tell the story behind someone else’s success. It is up to us to decide which one to be in this ever-changing world.



PUBLISHED ON Apr 20,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 990]



Tsion Fisseha is a writer and head of foreign languages in the news department at a local TV station. She has been a part of a pan African poetry slam competition representing Ethiopia and is a member of a rock band entitled the Green Manalishi. She can be reached at tsion.f.terefe@gmail.com.






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