reading_paris_station_312022_o Latest Issue

Over-Investment in Fictional Things

I’ve spent countless—really though, countless—hours of my life with my nose jammed into a book and my face glued to a television.

While most can read a chapter of a book or watch a single episode of their favourite television show and them move on with their day, I simply can’t. I’m a one-sitting-stay-up-till-you-can’t-think-straight entertainment binger. When I read a book, I get through it all in one marathon-like sitting. When I watch a new series, I watch ALL the episodes.

I don’t know how others don’t feel the way I do.

need to know what’s coming. I need to be as up to date as possible. And then I need to obsessively count down the days until I get a new episode or book.

I am emotionally invested in Robert Ross and Eugene Taffler.

I am emotionally invested in Petyr Baelish and Tyrion Lannister.

I am emotionally invested in Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff.

I am emotionally invested in Marty Deeks and Kensi Blye.

Some of the greatest relationships I have are with people I’ve never met and will never be able to meet. Despite the intricacies of their character and the beauty I find in them, they exist only on screen or in the pages of books. I genuinely care about where the storylines of characters from specific shows will go, about the relationships they will create, the hurt they will feel, and the ends they will come to. Sometimes, these people have connections to where I am in my own life that are deeper than I can find with the physical people around me.

I am emotionally invested in Spencer Reid and Jennifer Jareau.

I am emotionally invested in Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark.

I am emotionally invested in Elizabeth Keen and Raymond Reddington.

I am emotionally invested in Fermin Romero de Torres and Daniel Sempere.

If they were made of flesh and bone could I still relate to them? Or is it because I cannot form reciprocated relationships that I can become so invested? Since I find a problematic amount of fulfillment coming from people who only exist in the words and actions writers have given to them, it’s about time that we looked into what is missing from our own lives that causes us to become of entranced by characters of fiction.

Fictional characters, the lives they live, and the relationships they cultivate consistently move me. When characters are happy and thriving I’m ecstatic; when characters are in the beginning stages of awe-inspiring romances I’m thrilled; when awful things happen I’m devastated. I feel real, whole emotions over the lives of characters that will never be a physical part of my life.

I know—believe me I know—it’s not logical. If I could change my over the top and slightly ridiculous interest I probably… okay, maybe… would.  Sometimes, fictional characters are as real to me as my friends and family who fill up the space in the world around me. I find little pieces of truth and humanity in so many of the characters I bring into my life that I can’t help but become invested in them.

I’m often sad to know that I’ll never be able to experience again the way I felt when I was first introduced to characters or storylines. The pure elation that comes when you’re so full of emotion that you may explode: I want to feel that more often. When Rosemarie Uriquico said “… a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things must come to end, but that you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two. 
Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.
If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are” she really hit the nail on the head.

I am invested in fictional characters because of their resilience and because of their consistent forward movement. I strive to emulate them and to develop into the full-fledged human counterpart to their imagined development. Author Paul Sweeney said “you know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend” and he truly couldn’t have been more correct.