If one thing’s for sure, it’s that I am very normal. I certainly don’t alienate people randomly, or fear my peers, or have trouble getting out of bed most mornings. Not doing those things is just one of the many normal things about me. Similarly, my many and thorough obsessions are very normal as well. I have been deeply, normally obsessed with TV shows* (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, X-Files, Dr. Who, The Mindy Project, SVU, Bones), celebrities (the amount I know about Mariska Hargitay is STANDARD and not terrifying), bands (ask me about They Might Be Giants and I will tell you only a normal amount of information for a normal number of hours), and even personal care (I saw an infomercial at 3am once about a nail care product and became obsessed with healthy nail growth for a solid year, as one does).
I was recently talking with a coworker about how to support someone’s obsessions, and I lit up like a Christmas tree. A holiday tree. A tree with lights. Should you be so curious, here’s my take on how to support someone’s not-at-all weird (no matter how weird it seems) obsession:
Don’t judge the object of their obsession. No judgment means no scoffing, no quizzical eyebrows, no sneers, dramatic gasps, slaps in the face, flared nostrils, chortling, or guffawing.
Don’t ask how much time they’ve devoted to their obsession, unless you’re looking to budget out time for your own upcoming obsession rather than to judge.
Don’t ask how much money they’ve devoted to their obsession, unless it’s to congratulate them on their dedication and sound investments. I once bought a dress because I saw Mindy Kaling wearing it on her Facebook feed. This is just a list of normal things that people do.
Show an interest in the obsession. Ask them about it, read up on it, watch it, listen to it, try doing it, and so on, as applicable.
If you “don’t get it,” “don’t get it” privately. Not getting it is probably more a reflection of your own failings as a person than this very normal person’s strange tastes.
Don’t try to deflect their obsession onto something else you’d rather they
wasted spent their time on. They will find time to watch Westworld with you. Relax.
Buy them obsession-related gifts. How charming of you!
In the event that you also become obsessed with this thing, should you be so lucky, suggest not-weird things you not-weirdos can do together to fuel your shared obsession. (Trade shows? Comic-cons? Matching tattoos?)
Tell them about one of your own obsessions and allow them to support you in this very normal way, too.
*If you’re wondering what separates binge watching from obsessiveness, I would say it’s the additional research one does, the extra content one finds and consumes (interviews, YouTube videos, Twitter feeds), and the related merchandise one purchases that really screams “very normal obsession over here!”