It seems like such an innocent hobby when you’re young…read lots of books, become smart in the process, experience super cool stories, nothing bad here (except the staying up late and parents telling you you read too much (I know, seriously?), but that’s not important). Now a little older, I recognize a few side effects of such obsessive reading. I’m not saying the side effects are good or bad, simply observing that they exist. Also, there are obvious side effects (did I mention excelling at some school subjects?), but I am not dealing with those.
Side effect #1: Treating everyone around you like a fictional character. No disrespect to anyone around me meant by this. Fictional characters are good. 🙂 Realization of this side effect took awhile to dawn on me. I wrote about my fascination with people a few months ago, and started asking “why?”. Why would I look at some people and suddenly want to spend a significant amount of time picking their brain? I wanted to know what was going on in their head, where they had been, where they wanted to go. Duh! What do you learn about a character? Generally, you see some back story, read their thoughts, watch where their life goes. There is no privacy…you see everything. In the space of a few hours, I’ve probed the depths of a (imaginary) person, every tiny secret of their life.
Unfortunately, life outside of books doesn’t work that way. I have no excuse to become so knowledgeable about a person, no basis for probing them. Probably best for them…real people deserve privacy from the intense curiosity of strangers. I watched this side effect play out in my relationships too. The best excuse you have for that type of deep probing is the guise of a relationship. With no conscious intent whatsoever, I believe I may have enjoyed the high of figuring out a few of my partners as much as I actually enjoyed the “relationship.” My depression after those breakups was more from the sudden lack of connection rather than any real hurt. I have yet to decide if that was unfair to the guys…I’m just aware of it for my future relationships.
This side effect is a mixed bag. Is it bad, my desire to probe the depths of a person? Probably. However, my fascination of people leads me to be accepting and more appreciative of humanity, which is clearly a good thing. It balances out…I am fascinated from afar, with no threat to anyone’s privacy.
Has anyone else experienced this side effect? Please tell me I’m not alone!