Red Circle Obsession

Hairy feet so big that no shoe could fit it. An appetite so immense that no meal could satisfy it. A love of green and yellow so peculiar it defies all logic. A thirst for quiet so strong that only mind-game wizardry can affect it. And worst of all, such a desire for a tiny, circular thing that you’d go to battle over it. This, my friends, is no ordinary hobbit; this is you.

Whether you’ve read the books or seen the overload of films, the world of J.R.R. Tolkien has likely reached you. Memorable quests and missions abound where countless many are taken on a journey through Middle-earth. Orcs and other wonderful creatures attack and annoy along the way but no matter the company or the obstacle, the enemy always remains close by. The bigger secret is that of all the enemies, the biggest always lies within – obsession. Any enemy with the power to physically transform and to drive all decision-making is indeed a mighty foe.

10-Smeagol gollumAs anyone familiar with Gollum knows, his all-encompassing obsession turned him from a normal hobbit into, well, Gollum. Once he was introduced to this circular object of interest, all of his actions were then driven by it. No longer could he control his behavior. No longer could he free himself for his now singular pursuit. No longer was he in control. The more Gollum got of his precious, the more he wanted needed. A craving like this would never have existed without introduction to it and sadly, once in, he was forever hooked. It is a sad story but also one that is all too familiar. This singular obsession and descent into madness hits close to home because whether you know it or not, you are Gollum.

The most sadistic part of it all is that you aren’t even aware of it. Gollum was driven by a love/hate relationship with a very specific ring, but you are driven by an endless number of red circles. Like sugar plums dancing in your head, red circles are all that you think about. They consume you. They drive you. They make you complete acts of desperation. For example, if by chance you go outside to take the trash out, you begin to feel that pull as the questions and heart rates arise. Did I miss one? Pulse races. Let me check. Scrolling ensues, pulse races faster. OMG there isn’t one, better create a need for one. You quickly send a massive, emoji riddled group text message as your pulse races at unhealthy levels. Ten minutes of constant attention later, a red circle with the number 3 appears. You smile smugly as your heat rate normalizes. 

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In a blink-and-you-might-miss-it society, you have become slave to the red circle. Like Gollum and his precious ring, you can’t help yourself. Like a warm hug, you crave validation from anyone and everyone that you matter. Your digital actions require a response in order to prove how clever, artistic, trendy, and just plain lovable you really are. Forget real in-person interaction – just go digital. It is easier not simply because you can do it with one finger, it’s easier because more people can validate you from afar.

Yes, everyone else is also Gollumesque in their actions so you are more than justified for your red circle obsession.  But, unlike Gollum, your red circles are not going to be tossed into Mount Doom and extinguished for you, but that doesn’t mean that you need to be a slave to your red circle.

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