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  • KDW Ferrell

Putty Peeps Diaries - Obsession

What is an obsession? Is it all consuming or comforting? Does it fill a void or cause a hole? On Saturdays in the fall the obsession is football. Today, while resting in my tin, I was able to watch gladiators battle on the gridiron for eternal glory. It was noble and good. It was pure and exhilarating. It was college football and the hunt for the national title and the trophy that says we are the best of the best.

I watched in-state rivals battle for bragging rights, Service branches fight for dominance and kids campaign for school pride. The players and coaches were fun to watch as they approached each play as it it was their last. However, the fans were the ones that showed the true obsessions. Painted faces, chests emblazoned with letters, and tattooed faces all demonstrating their school pride; their hearts on their sleeves they cheered for every play. They waved signs prior to the games, gathered in clusters predicting victory for their team. It was quite a sight to see.

Yet these fans pale in comparison to soccer fans. I was confused at first because both sports are called football. However in soccer all but one player uses their feet to move the ball, whereas in football all but one player uses their hands to move the ball. I had to venture out of my tin and into the Internet to look up the rules and why they are so different. Nevertheless, soccer fans take their matches very seriously. They not only dress up in team colors they also have team songs and they sing those songs at full volume without care or concern for pitch or tone. Some of the songs rattled my tin so bad I had to seek shelter.

Watching the fans of the two sports I started to wonder when does obsession cross over from acceptable to maniacal?

Have you crossed over from socially approved and financially encouraged obsession to the dark side?

I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, or pretend to care on talk shows, I am an ordinary Putty Peep and I think it happens in a manner of degrees. One day you buy a sweatshirt with a school logo and you feel a sense of community and you like seeing other people are like you because they have a matching sweatshirt and they seem to like you as they pass by giving high fives and call outs for support. You say to yourself that felt good, I liked that feeling so the next day you go out and buy a hat which you tip in the call and response on the street to even more like minded fans. You enjoy the feeling of easy inclusion and don’t seem to mind the superficial nature of this connection. For a few hours in a day you are united with others in a common cause, you raise your voice in song and yell in support of your team. When the game is over, win or lose, you feel a hole and start talking about the next game, getting ready for continued success or plotting revenge.

Each time you need more and more to fill the void, you yell louder, say things you usually don’t because the moment takes you and you ride in the high of the crowd. For some, there comes a time when they feel the need to break free from the crowd and punish the masses. Having observed human behavior from the safety of my tin, I believe this is the case with those lone gunman who target crowds. Whether they are using a gun, a car or a bomb, these people punish the masses who they somehow believe deserve their fate. These attackers’s ideals, beliefs or obsessions run counterproductive to our society. It is almost as if they see a crowd and long for the days when a thumbs up or down vote was all that was needed to release the lions. Instead they have become the beast.

The lives lost in these attacks is heartbreaking for the sheer senselessness of the violence. It is amazing that people whose obsessions move from buying a few sweatshirts and hats to multiple guns and rifles are not portrayed as complete monsters in the media. People want to know what was their motive, why did they do this horrible act and how did this happen? The answers are never easy. What is worse than answers or motive or rhetoric filled with hate and threats, no rhetoric or reason at all. What if instead of an obsession or fixation there is no reason except to see if it could be done? Watching the commercials during the games about standing strong for Las Vegas I wondered what will happen if no reason is found dictating the terms of an obsession but instead uncovers no motive at all. Will that make the acts of violence that much worse because they are completely senseless? What if there was no obsession and by extension no emotion? For me that is the scariest scenario of them all.

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