Originally Published: July 19, 2017 6:01 a.m.
Dear Annie: I’m young, and as most young adults do, I have an interest in musicians, authors, artists, etc. For me, especially, I find myself engrossed in YouTubers. These are kids who are around my age, 18 or 19. They make funny videos and do ridiculous things that keep me entertained for hours.
This is where the problem comes in. I found that I’m always drawn to be obsessed with people who are internet-famous. I feel as though I may be this way because of my lack of actual friends, so I think I understand it. But understanding the problem doesn’t necessarily help me sleep at night.
All my life, I’ve been battling being an obsessive person. As a preteen, I would become enraged if someone pointed out my interest had become an obsession. Now that I’m 18, I’ve changed my reaction from enraged at the other person to just plain irritated with myself. I feel as if obsessions are taking over my life.
I’ve tried countless times and ways to stop myself, such as putting my phone down, disconnecting from the internet for hours or getting outside to be active, but at the end of the day, I’m still hooked. No matter how hard I try to turn my obsession into a “positive addiction,” it always seems to fail, and I’m then sucked into my phone and watching videos again. Every time I try to address the issue with my therapist, I become too embarrassed and change the subject.
I want to help myself because I’ve become so depressed about these obsessions, but I’m just not sure what to do. — Obsessed and Tired
Dear Obsessed: Celebrity “obsessions” and fanaticism have been a normal part of adolescence since the advent of mass media. But the internet has made celebs seem closer to us than ever. We not only can spend endless hours reading up on the details of their lives but also may even get a chance to interact with them on social media. This is even truer for internet celebrities, who inherently have close relationships to their fan bases. With this sort of access, it’s easy to see how a young person could get carried away.
But there is so much good news in your letter. You have a thorough understanding of your issue. You realize it’s impacting your life negatively. You want to change. And you’re in therapy — which brings me to my ultimate point. Talk to your therapist about this. Knowing the full details of your life and background, he or she can help address the underlying problems that are driving your obsessive behavior. And I promise your therapist won’t judge you.
Dear Annie: This is not a question, only a comment. I have read advice columns in the paper for 40 years. In that time, I have never seen advice given that is as appropriate and impressive as yours. It is without a doubt the best column in the paper. Thank you! — Dale B.
Dear Dale B.: Thank you for making my day. It’s an honor to have this platform, and I’ll keep doing my best not to disappoint. I hope to keep you as a reader for years to come.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.