Obsession 2.0

There is something terrific about focusing all of your energy on the impossible because it certainly garauntees that you’re not going to have to settle for a real relationship with a real, lumpy, awkward human being.

Amy Bloom on Open Source

[Scheduled for Tuesday February 14]

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3)

Googling a new crush is now standard behavior. But the often obsessive nature of love and the “accessibility, anonymity and affordability” of the internet can be an explosive combination.

After my lover left me, I went a little crazy for a while. By day, I could pass for normal, as that concept is broadly understood on the Upper West Side, where I live – I sat at my desk, I took long furious walks in Riverside Park rehearsing all the terrible things I would say to him as he lay stricken with something rare and painful…But at night, after my daughter was in bed, I would settle myself at the computer with a cup of coffee, and till one or two in the morning I would browse the Internet, searching for information about him. Except “browse” is much too placid and leisured a word – a cow browses in a meadow, a reader browses in a library for a novel to take home for the weekend. What I did fell between zeal and monomania.

Katha Pollitt, The New Yorker, 1/19/04

It’s not the scary world of sex addiction, or the type of stalking that requires actual police intervention. It’s the way that love, especially heartbreak, can make even the sanest, least creepy person among us go a little nuts.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re talking about obsession. Where does it come from? Why is this our response to great love or great trauma? And what, especially in the age of digital tracking, does it say about us? When is it research, when is it curiosity, and when is it stalking? What are we trying to prove or understand about the people we (once) love(d)?

Send us your own stories of personal obsession. Where is the line between healthy and unhealthy obsession, and have you ever crossed it? What have you learned about your once and future partners, and about yourself?

Erin Bradley

“Miss Information” sex and dating advice columnist for Nerve.com

“Girl Gone Mad” dating blogger for Nerve.com

Jeana Frost

Former researcher, MIT Media Lab

Author, Decision Making in the Information Age: A Study of and Design for Online Dating

Amy Bloom

psychotherapist and novelist

Jeff Roberto

Spokesman, online social networking site Friendster

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