Thursday, 25 January 2018

Obsessive Thoughts and Social Media

This probably isn't about what you expect: stalking some poor human because you can't stop thinking about them. It's actually a brief thought about someone who's struggled with obsessive thoughts since childhood--me--and how social media helps. 

We all have those thoughts every now and then, the ones that stick around and nag you, the ones that you can't quite shake. Obsessive people have those all the time, often several at once, about things you might not expect. Sometimes they're actually good things, like writing a short blog on how social media helps you handle your obsessive thoughts, and sometimes they're not. Obsessive puts the O in OCD, and the C part comes from a strong desire to act on the thoughts you have. 

And, before you think "oh man, obsessiveness sounds wonderful, such focus"; you're assuming you can control the thoughts' content. I had a chat with a friend I consider extremely intelligent, where he told me my negative traits were positive ones, including the obsessiveness. He wasn't thinking about control: is it beneficial to my career to be unable to stop thinking about swapping around the syllables in the phrase 'spongebob squarepants'? Probably not. Squaresponge bobpants. 

For me, I have far more of the O than the C. I've been working on that for years, and the C is far less problematic these days. I no longer get (seemingly) inescapably caught tapping out people's syllables in conversations, I don't feel like I have to rearrange things to be symmetrical any more. But, over the years I've also learned that part of dealing with the obsessive thoughts is acting on them. Feed the beast, and it shuts up for a while. Talking about what I, and past psychiatrists, call a 'stuck thought' basically makes it go away. It's kind of like having a song stuck in your head - if you hear the song all the way through, it is far more likely to go away.

And that's where I come to social media. It's only really occurred to me recently that I'm able to handle many of the obsessive thoughts - the ones about word rhythms (for some reason I get a lot of these), or silly internet things, or gaming stuff, by sharing them with others. Now, of course, not all the obsessive thoughts I have are shareable. A lot of them aren't shareable on Twitter, that's for sure, and many of the more personal, negative, or darker ones aren't shareable on Facebook either. But my god, it's a boon as an obsessive person to have those outlets at all. And occasionally the people who follow me join in for the ride, and I feel better about my stupid brain. Even now, the obsessive thought about telling you all this is fading, and I might forget I ever had it until I blow the dust off Blogger again.

So thanks. You all help more than you know. Bobpants Spongesquare.


  1. Thank you for sharing this. For people dealing with these kinds of things, it can be quite comforting to hear you're not alone with it.

  2. So good to hear - thanks for sharing - I remember when I was a child having my life directed by not skipping steps, finishing an incomplete sentence, choosing things based on whether I could count to 100. It was maddening.