Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Obsessive, moi?

Ok, I get it.

I completely get that my current obsession with the Scottish Independence Referendum isn't healthy and isn't helping anyone.


Three days from now (as I write) the Scottish electorate will go to the polls to decide if Scotland should be independent from the UK, or remain - as it is now - a constituent nation in the United Kingdom. The decision will be on 50% + 1 vote and will be definitive. The referendum has been in the schedule for several years, but of course it is now reaching fever pitch. There has been regular polling throughout, which for a long time was roughly 42-45% Yes, 55-58% No.  Recently the polls have tightened to very close to 50:50.  For sure, nobody knows which way the result is going to go.

What do I think?

If you want to know what I think, you can find out on my personal blog, where a number of posts discuss various aspects of the referendum. Or if you want less considered thoughts, look at my twitter timeline. Well if you want to know even more, and you know me in person, friend me on facebook.

Obsessive, moi?

I'm completely obsessed. I have wasted days online refreshing twitter and facebook, surfing the links that come up, looking at arguments. I find myself just absent mindedly clicking on facebook and twitter to see what's new a minute into trying to do something important. I installed an app to block  these sites, and would find myself going to my phone to get the info, though it did work a bit. And then I wasted half a day because the app wasn't working.

I've posted many many many comments on facebook.  And many tweets on twitter.  And I have also written and deleted posts before sending them. And many more I have mentally composed without writing them. And many many more thoughts have entered my head about the referendum.

Not helping me or anyone

I don't honestly think I've been helping others very much. Maybe a bit, highlighting things they hadn't seen previously. I have had some good arguments where both parties have left thinking differently, not on the main question, but on some of the issues. But equally not helping them by bombarding their timeline with what are often ranty posts.  Ranty because I can't hold myself back in the middle of whatever thing infuriates me this minute. And as I say, my friends should see many of the posts I don't send!  Oddly, today I did get a mail from somebody saying he was enjoying my posts: I think he must just be the politest person on the planet!

The point of this essay is not whether I am helping my friends or not. It's that this obsession is obviously not healthy for me, and I know that because my brain gets so scrambled.  It just gets to a place I hate, where almost every thought is about this issue, I can't fix any of it,  it matters very deeply to me, and it causes me pain.

Simply put, I'm a worrier, and when I get into a certain loop it just takes over my brain somehow.  I know this because it's happened to me a few times before in my life. All have been extremely unpleasant to me. Usually about some failed relationship in some sense (and I'm not going to go into details about those.)  When it gets like this I feel in danger. Not so much that I am not functioning - just now I'm doing functioning well and I'm not even depressed.  But I feel like some stick could hit the fast spinning wheel of my brain and throw me off it, with unpleasant effects.

Obsessive, moi?

Obsessive is what I do. I get into some computer game, and just play it to death. Eventually move to the next one and never pick up the old one again. My daughter noticed this years ago: it's not subtle. I archive binged on books decades before it was possible on films and tv. It was Asterix, or it was Asimov, or it was Peanuts.  And I would read them over and over again, not going on to the next obsession.  Now I get into a movie or tv series and watch it over and ... well I think you are getting the idea.

If I find something fascinating I just obsess about it and think about it all the time. Growing up it was cricket. I would get out my reference books and compile all time great teams composed of players with the same initial letter. (If I remember right the H's and B's were particularly good: Holding and Headley against Bradman and Botham amongst many others.)  For a few happy years it was chess puzzles. I particularly enjoyed helpmates. I would have long baths and do several puzzles in them with a portable chess set (a wonderful one found by my wife.) I would wake up and think about a chess puzzle in my head, have an insight, and go to the chess set to find out if I was right.

You might see where this is going. This obsessive brain that doesn't stop thinking about stuff is one of the reasons I am good at my academic job. I think and think and think and something comes to me.  Often the result is garbage. Sometimes they are really good ideas.
I wouldn't change it

I would love not to obsess about a broken relationship or the independence referendum.

But if I had a choice of a button that changed my brain to be non obsessive like it is, I couldn't hit it. The risk would be too great that I would change myself so I wouldn't recognise myself and I would be no good at my job.


  1. I recognize so much about this. I recently got hooked on drawing and painting, and when talking with people about that the easiest description I have is that I have exactly two modes of interaction with a hobby:


    OMG!!! Full immersion obsession!!!


Comment policy:
We reserve the right to edit all comments. In particular, we will not tolerate phobic content (race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, mental health status, etc.) nor personal attacks or threats toward another commenter, significantly off-topic, or is an obvious trolling attempt.