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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Column: The big breakup

Breaking up is hard to do. One second you’re so close, connecting and revealing your soul to another individual and the next moment, you’re … nothing. Just two people who shared something once upon a time. Transitioning from one type of relationship to another with a person is complicated to say the least. There are all kinds of emotions to deal with and a bunch of loose ends to tie up. The lucky ones are able to push past the discomfort and end on amicable terms. Others … not so much. Yes, breakups can be super messy, but they honestly shouldn’t be.

There was a breakup in the news that recently fell on the messy side. Not a celebrity divorce — those happen so often I can hardly keep up with them. This was a professional breakup, but it does mirror the romantic kind. The news commentator Keith Olbermann, from the news program “Countdown With Keith Olbermann,” was fired by the network Current TV after working there for a little under a year.

Both sides have been very vocal since parting ways. Current TV, operated by former Vice President Al Gore and legal entrepreneur Joel Hyatt, has essentially painted Olbermann as a spoiled diva. According to court papers it filed this past Friday, the commentator had the network pay “over $50,000 in an eight-month period to eight different limousine companies because none of the previous seven were able to meet his patrician standards for how to drive him around New York City.”

In his lawsuit against the network, Olbermann labeled Current TV as “ragtag” and Gore and Hyatt as “dilettantes portraying entertainment industry executives,” a.k.a. total posers. Ouch. He’s asking for between $50 to $70 million in compensation for Current TV’s lack of professionalism and breach of contract. He recently said during an appearance on the “Late Show With David Letterman” that “if you buy a $10 million chandelier, you should have a house to put it in,” referring to his contracted $10 million annual salary and the network’s allegedly subpar facilities.

Now this is all very interesting and entertaining, but it’s also quite cringe-worthy. It’s like watching an episode of Dr. Phil (or better yet, Jerry Springer) when wives put their cheating husbands on blast and you’re captivated by the drama, but at the same time feel just a bit embarrassed on the couple’s behalf. You feel like you’re intruding and wonder if the participants have any kind of shame.

Breakups leave all sides emotionally raw for a period of time, so it’s understandable that people want to vent a little and explain their side of the story. But is there really an excuse for airing your dirty laundry like Tide is out of stock? I think not. When you promise someone that you can be trusted, that promise shouldn’t end just because the relationship is over.

This goes for all types of relationships, from friendship to professional to dating. There is a mutually agreed upon, unwritten social contract between parties about keeping what happens in Vegas in Vegas (metaphorically speaking). For example, think of your best friend in the whole world. You’ve been through a lot together and they know a thing or two about you that no one else knows. How messed up would it be for them to put your secrets in the open as soon as the friendship ends?

At the end of the day, it doesn’t benefit anyone to betray the memory of what used to be a good thing by tainting it with negativity. Keith Olbermann’s reputation is basically ruined (or at least very, very questionable), and Current TV has a lot of public relations clean-up work to do. They both probably regret ever getting together in the first place, but I’m guessing they’ll regret even more the negative publicity their comments have garnered.

Even if you’re left without that special someone to hold, when all is said and done, you can always hold on to your dignity. (Probably the most comforting line I’ve ever written.) Show up your ex by carrying yourself with unbelievable grace and maturity, like Sandra Bullock did back in 2010 when her marriage to Jesse James dissolved. She never addressed the scandal and chose to focus on being a good mom to her newly adopted son, winning the admiration of all of America in the process. Find the Miss Congeniality in you and move on.

For more ridiculously comforting support as you get over your breakup, contact PAMELA NONGA NGUE at pamnonga@ucdavis.edu.


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