When I first learned about hyperfixations, everything suddenly made sense. Of course, I learned about them in a Twitter thread, because how fitting for the app where I find most of my new interests to be the one that taught me about myself. I couldn’t believe that I’d never heard of hyperfixations before — they explained so much of why my hobbies and interests were so inconsistent, all-consuming and a bit random. My hyperfixations dramatically alter the way I experience culture, for better or for worse.
Hyperfixation is a weird thing. One day, I’ll wake up and suddenly be entirely invested in playing Catan online. Two weeks later, and I’ve moved on to checking out every primatology memoir from the library, and before long, I’m back to games, this time watching professional chess players stream on Twitch.
Hyperfixations are commonly seen in neurodivergent people, particularly those with ADHD, and they consist of hobbies and interests that grow to become all-encompassing, smothering out all other activities as a result. The weird thing with hyperfixations is their come-and-go nature — unlike an addiction, which can go on forever, hyperfixations tend to end rather suddenly when you lose interest — last semester, I watched nearly every Memphis Grizzlies basketball game for a month in the middle of the regular season, before randomly deciding one day I didn’t care anymore, not watching another match until the playoffs several months later.
This dynamism of my interests drives much of the way I consume culture, relegating many of my hobbies to fits and bursts of activity. When I watch “Survivor,” for example, I usually watch a season every three days, an insane amount of television that I might keep up for ten days at most. But that all-consumingness has also made me incredibly wary of starting new seasons when I’m busy, lest I get too invested and drop everything else I need to do. This also means that I will only watch “Survivor” in chunks, much to the chagrin of my friends, who are now way ahead of me in seasons and want me to catch up to them.
But consuming a lot of one part of culture at once might mean I also miss out on other things — listening to Eurovision endlessly for a month means that I’m not listening to much other new music. Also, as a result of hopping from hyperfixation to hyperfixation, I have exposure to a lot of bizarre, unrelated topics, but I probably don’t know a ton about any of them individually.
Sometimes, I really wish I had some consistency in my hobbies — maybe I could actually be good at one of them! It would be fun to not suck at chess or to be an expert on “Survivor” strategy. Oh well — they’re still fun, even if I’m not exactly an authority on them. Plus, they usually at least give me something to do, so I’m rarely bored, and I can often remember a specific period of time based on the hyperfixation. When I think about playing online chess, it brings me back to my time in quarantine sophomore spring, and I’m sure in the future, I’ll be reminded of right now by Catan, my current hyperfixation.
Although hyperfixation can be a little annoying at times, both to myself and those I bore with incessant conversations about whatever it is I love at the moment, I don’t mind it too much. In the scope of ADHD, hyperfixation has an odd position as one of the rare traits that is neither good nor bad — maybe that’s why nobody ever talks about hyperfixation. But I think discussing all parts of the neurodivergent experience is valuable, even if nobody really cares except me, so, voilà, here I am, talking about my hyperfixations. -Jonathan Pertile, Recess Editor
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Jonathan Pertile is a Trinity senior and recess editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.