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February 9, 2011 3:31 PM   Subscribe

People fall in love with physical objects. For some reason, this feels more surprising than it should after 54 years of observational experience. Who knew? “A marketer needs to be careful not to judge these people as being weird," says the lead author.
posted by sneebler (62 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Somebody ought to send this guy to Japan to talk to those dudes about their pillows...
posted by GuyZero at 3:33 PM on February 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Before you get to Japan, start talking to James Franco. "Kamiko ... it is here, like any other object. Objects are made by men, and used for many purposes, but we never love objects." Well, sometimes we do.

See also, from 2007: On Saturday, April 28, 29-year-old Louisville, Kentucky native Cory Moore legally married his 2004 Cherry ES-335.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:39 PM on February 9, 2011


I will gladly marry anyone to the Golden Gate Bridge for a nominal fee.
posted by Nanukthedog at 3:40 PM on February 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


As soon as my divorce to the Brooklyn Bridge goes through.
posted by Splunge at 3:43 PM on February 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Hey, there's no shame in marrying an ES-335. If it was just an Epiphone, I say the boy needs help.
posted by doctor_negative at 3:46 PM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


You gephyrophiles, always leaping to new lovers, always too eager to take the plunge.
posted by ardgedee at 3:46 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyone who wants to grab the original journal article, the URL is http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/658338. If you don't have JSTOR access, drop me an email and we can discuss interlibrary loan and our mutual affection for the library.
posted by jessamyn at 3:46 PM on February 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


"As soon as my divorce to the Brooklyn Bridge goes through."

I wait in suspense.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:47 PM on February 9, 2011 [14 favorites]


"As soon as my divorce to the Brooklyn Bridge goes through."

I wait in suspense
suspension.

FTFY
posted by tommasz at 3:49 PM on February 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


I used to feel this way about my computer. When we first met she was so quick, so pretty, so good at everything I asked her to do and I'd play with her for hours. But she's gotten a bit old and staid. There's more and more things she doesn't feel like doing and her batteries die a lot faster than they used to. One day she actually came home with a virus and she wouldn't tell me where she caught it. I'm seriously thinking of starting an affair with an iPad.
posted by localroger at 3:51 PM on February 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


The Germans even have a word for it: "objectum-sexuality".

In Britain, however, those who act out such affections should be warned: doing so could land you on the sex offenders' register, even if done in the privacy of a hotel room.
posted by acb at 3:54 PM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Cue Queen.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 4:00 PM on February 9, 2011


That is because they crazy. Objects have no feelings. And the new ones are much better.
posted by The Bellman at 4:02 PM on February 9, 2011 [11 favorites]


The Germans even have a word for it:

Of course they do.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:04 PM on February 9, 2011 [12 favorites]


In the early 90s, when I was a rather younger me, fresh and innocent to the then-new World Wide Web, Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer was a formative shock of realizing the world was much weirder than I could predict or expect.
posted by Drastic at 4:09 PM on February 9, 2011


NOT totally unrelated, this post via Slate and ALDaily about the old God/no god debate is primarily concerned with our innate tendency to attribute human characteristics to inanimate objects.
posted by kozad at 4:11 PM on February 9, 2011


Or cue Frank Zappa's First Church of Appliantology, but be warned: if you want a really GOOD one, you'll have to learn a foreign language -- German, for instance. A lot of really cute ones come from over there.
posted by mosk at 4:16 PM on February 9, 2011


I always find it oddly touching to watch that woman have sex with the Eiffel Tower.
posted by hot soup girl at 4:34 PM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's interesting that people will ascribe gender even to objects. According to Erika La Tour Eiffel, the Eiffel tower is female, despite its well-known phallic appearance. Not sure what gender the Berlin Wall would be...
posted by adso at 4:41 PM on February 9, 2011


I miss my Weighted Companion Cube. Brb, going to cry.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 5:02 PM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have this scooter that I absolutely adore. I made a facebook page for him. And the weird thing is he's been sorta dead lately-- I haven't had the money to fix him-- and while I've come to terms with this myself, I feel really guilty when people ask me about it and can get really depressed when I spend too much time thinking about this.

So yeah. I get this.
posted by NoraReed at 5:05 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh God yes. Of course we do. I was not so much obviously in love with the light blue ten-speed I had in college while I had it, but when it was stolen one night because I left it unlocked under the stairwell in the belief that nobody would take it instead of all those fancy mountain bikes, I felt an absolute sense of loss, and specifically as if I had let it down somehow. Went all over town looking for it for days, but of course never found it.
posted by Naberius at 5:06 PM on February 9, 2011


Have there been incidents where the object hasn't reciprocated? How's that gotta feel, to have your beloved shun you when your beloved is a very attractive throw pillow?

(Only kind of kidding here. Really, is there a way that people evaluate how the object "feels?")
posted by sonika at 5:13 PM on February 9, 2011


> is there a way that people evaluate how the object "feels?"

The woman in love with the Eiffel Tower in hot soup girl's clip, above, seems very certain that the tower loves her back. I'd, uh, suggest watching that clip for more detail.
posted by mosk at 5:19 PM on February 9, 2011


As recently as this past fall, people here were asking the same questions liberal Americans have been glumly contemplating: Why is everyone being so passive? Why are we letting ourselves be ripped off?

Because in America things aren't yet broken enough to make everyone realize we need a fix
posted by AndrewKemendo at 5:20 PM on February 9, 2011


“A marketer needs to be careful not to judge these people as being weird," says the lead author.

Reason #5,273,478 that I am glad I am not a marketer, because those people are weird.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:27 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Real Doll comment in 3...2...
posted by Chuffy at 5:28 PM on February 9, 2011


I had an absolutely consuming, torrid yet all-too-fleeting time of True Love with a midnight blue 1969 SS Chevelle. Nothing was too good -- three motors, two transmissions, exotic intake and exhaust systems, hours upon hours upon hours, and then more hours, countless dollars. O, how I loved that car! That car was an absolute beauty, that car was a goddamn thoroughbred, that car screamed and moaned when I took control aggressively, that car howled and writhed, responding unbelievably to my touch. You mash down on that gas pedal, it's like four inches onto the end of your dick. Pure testosterone. Except also pure adrenaline. I guess it was a speedball of testosterone and adrenaline, mainlined into my soul. O god! Oh god! Oh GOD! OH GOD OH GOD OH MY FUCKING GOD !!! ETC !!! I smashed that love, a foolishness I shall ever regret, I destroyed that love on a drunken, druggy night -- together, we spent time with a tree. Our love never recovered.

While never approaching the heat and passion I experienced in my time with that Chevelle -- I don't even have a picture to remember it by, O, the foolishnesses of youth! -- while not as consuming, I have loved two pickup trucks. A more grown-up love, perhaps. A warm regard. A fondness. A deep and abiding respect. A sense of peace in their presence. Etc. Fords, of course -- Why would I waste my time with cheap imitation trucks? -- one a 1977, one a 1994, which awaits at my call as I type these words, waits patiently, knowing I'll never leave without it, never leave unless we're together. These loves not as hot nor as consuming but still waters run deep, I trust these loves; this latest love I know would go with me anywhere, drop whatever it's doing without a thought and take me anyplace I want to go. Sometimes when I wash it I put the hose up the exhaust pipe; I do believe I've seen it shiver, though it is steady under my hand.

I've loved a mountain bike, the largest production bike made that year, a thing of mechanical genius.

I've loved a Ruger Redhawk .44 magnum pistol. Stainless of course; I'm not after cheap, tawdry love, I require truth and beauty.

I have not loved any cell phones but I've had a number of crushes on a few of them, notably a Nokia that I had in 1999, a trim beauty that aroused jealousy in those who watched as I held it, or casually mistreated it, tossing it onto my desk with reckless abandon in their presence.

I love this oak four-poster bed, I've slept in its embrace since 1978, the very first thing I bought after Kathy and I split the blankets, I feel safe, supported, cossetted and warmed, my eye pleased by its lines.

I love my Guatemalan jacket, fits me perfectly, the weave startling blue shot with black, as only Guatemalans can do. I love my black Tony Lama boots, size 13EEE, the softest boots I've ever owned. No, really -- I love these fuckers. I love my black leather jacket, cheap and sleazy, and my other black leather, which wasn't cheap and isn't sleazy.

I've loved an iPod.

It goes on......
posted by dancestoblue at 5:39 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The woman who loved her shoes , I swear, this is one really twisted series too, check out the girl that eats soap, and the tweaked ventriloquist.
posted by ~Sushma~ at 5:49 PM on February 9, 2011


I've loved a Ruger Redhawk .44 magnum pistol. Stainless of course; I'm not after cheap, tawdry love, I require truth and beauty.

she have a name and a sister?
posted by clavdivs at 5:50 PM on February 9, 2011


Chuffy:Real Doll comment in 3...2...

Guys & Dolls
posted by dr_dank at 5:56 PM on February 9, 2011


Yep, this is weird stuff. Except for the bicycle part. Not falling in love with your bicycle is odd.

"...bicycle owners in this category spent about twice as much as others."

If only bicycle love were this inexpensive.
posted by cccorlew at 6:09 PM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


The woman who loved her shoes , I swear, this is one really twisted series too, check out the girl that eats soap, and the tweaked ventriloquist.

FWIW, the ventriloquist was probably fake-ish.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:40 PM on February 9, 2011


Cliche, but iPhone, iPod, Converse, Moleskine...and I love my badges. They comfort me
My first iPod was named Sylvia, after Viewtiful Joe's girlfriend. You had to name it when you plugged into iTunes
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:09 PM on February 9, 2011


An inanimate object won't not love you back.
posted by clarknova at 8:14 PM on February 9, 2011


Weird... the Clean's I Love My Leather Jacket just played
I've risked my life for my fedora
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:18 PM on February 9, 2011


Not an inanimate object so much as a force for good in the universe, but I am still bound and determined to marry The National Film Board of Canada.



My mother totally approves of this.


I have this scooter that I absolutely adore.

Sigh. They are so easy to love. I LOVE YOU, TINY SASS! *blows kisses toward garage* We'll get you a new drive belt soon, yes we will!
posted by louche mustachio at 8:19 PM on February 9, 2011


I just love that the Berliner-Mauer website is still "UNDER CONSTRUCTION"

* snort *
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:45 PM on February 9, 2011


I always find it oddly touching to watch that woman have sex with the Eiffel Tower.

There was a TV ad, I think for phone service, that had some woman spouting off all sorts of ridiculous facts including "a woman fell in love with the Eiffel Tower...and married it". I would never have believed that was real. We live in a very weird world.
posted by scalefree at 9:56 PM on February 9, 2011


You mash down on that gas pedal, it's like four inches onto the end of your dick.

"Finally, a full six inches!"
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:39 PM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Reason #5,273,478 that I am glad I am not a marketer, because those people are weird.

Some people fall in love with marketers, as if they were real people.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:06 AM on February 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


I might have just the teensiest crush on my anti-static fly pushing brushes.

/sad, sad, insect nerddom.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 12:07 AM on February 10, 2011


"Kamiko ... it is here, like any other object. Objects are made by men, and used for many purposes, but we never love objects."

I love the look he gives. Not so much "I really need you to believe this" as "I really need to believe this."
posted by dirigibleman at 12:23 AM on February 10, 2011


I think that anyone who could, in all seriousness, use the words "in love" to describe their feelings for an inanimate object, is someone I would want to remain a safe distance from at all times.
posted by Decani at 12:51 AM on February 10, 2011


From the same guys who did that awesome "objectosexuals" documentary with the woman who married the Eiffel Tower: "My Car is My Lover".

Tricky to find the objectosexuals documentary in full at this point, unfortunately, seems like somebody Went on a copyright rampage. Here's a couple of the best bits though.
posted by TheTorns at 2:35 AM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was surprised that the link was not to www.apple.com.
posted by unigolyn at 3:20 AM on February 10, 2011


> Not an inanimate object so much as a force for good in the universe, but I am still bound and determined to marry The National Film Board of Canada.

Ha! You too, huh? I have a similar crush on the British Film Institute. When I visit the building, beneath Waterloo Bridge, I feel a palpable flutter of romantic love, and I get a strange thrill when it replies to me on Twitter (yes, yes, I know it's really an intern, but a girl can dream).
posted by hot soup girl at 4:26 AM on February 10, 2011


Aha! After some further digging:

Strange Love: Married to The Eiffel Tower.

Strange Love: My Car is My Lover.

The best 2 documentaries I've ever watched. I kid you not. Amazing.
posted by TheTorns at 4:49 AM on February 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


WILSON!!!!!!!!!!! WILSON!!!!!!! Wilson?!?! WILSON!!!!! I'm SORRY!!!!
posted by edverb at 5:36 AM on February 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


i haven't had love affairs with objects, but i find three-pronged (US) power outlets to be incredibly heartbreaking, each with it's sad gasp and that one eye that is smaller than the other, probably due to swelling.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 6:45 AM on February 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Any guitar owner will tell you this is completely true.

I love my guitar and certainly spend more time with it than with other people. My great unrequited love however is a White Falcon. Someday I shall have you..

Wouldn't mind a 12-string Guild Starfire either
posted by Put the kettle on at 7:08 AM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh I also want to add that when my 18-month Moleskine diary ended, on Dec. 31 of 2010, I wrote it a goodbye note on the last page. This is going to sound absolutely pathetic but we'd been through so much together, you know?

Ditto my iPod. Dearest Theodore. My constant companion.
posted by Put the kettle on at 7:16 AM on February 10, 2011


"You know what makes humans different from other animals? We’re the only species on Earth that observes Shark Week. Sharks don’t even observe Shark Week, but we do. For the same reason that I can pick up this pencil, tell you its name is Steve, and go like this [snaps pencil in half] and part of you dies just a little bit on the inside. We can sympathize with a pencil, we can forgive a shark, and we can give Ben Affleck an Academy Award for screenwriting. People can find the good in just about anything but themselves. I want you to look at the person sitting next to you. I want you to extend to that person the same compassion you extend to sharks, pencils, and Ben Affleck.

-Jeff Winger, "Community"
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:30 AM on February 10, 2011 [12 favorites]


I can pick up this pencil, tell you its name is Steve, and go like this [snaps pencil in half] and part of you dies just a little bit on the inside.

The best part of that bit, though, is how everyone actually gasps and jumps when he does it.
posted by Zozo at 8:29 AM on February 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I always find it oddly touching to watch that woman have sex with the Eiffel Tower. yt

I came in here to say "Yeah, guys, I totally love a few things. Like my dad's old leather bomber that I stole, or my 2007 MBP. I'm starting to really really get attached to the old iphone 3g I poached off by brother".

Then I watched that clip and realized that I do not love any object like that woman loves the Eiffel tower.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:03 AM on February 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


I wish I could meet Erika La Tour Eiffel, because I have some burning questions. Chiefly, I wonder how she rationalises her conviction that the Eiffel Tower reciprocates her love. I can understand feeling that the tower loves her back, but does she actually think it does? And if so, by what mechanism? What sort of consciousness does she believe the Eiffel Tower has? I'm genuinely curious, because Erika is a highly intelligent person who must, I'm sure, have given some thought to the ways in which her experiences are culturally out of step with those of her society.
posted by hot soup girl at 6:20 PM on February 10, 2011


So, these inanimate objects won't love me back? Oh, then it's just like a regular relationship, then.
posted by adipocere at 6:45 PM on February 10, 2011


Am I going to be the first one to say I'm a little wary of the research methods involved? And the fact that this research wasn't done by any psychologists, but by researchers in a School of Business who then speculate based on nothing whatsoever and give advice to marketers?

On the other hand, the results are kinda obvious. But I'm not sure what their operational definition of love was. I'm not sure they had one, which is why I'm concerned.

What I'm getting from the article is that we knew people loved their cars because they named them and spent lots of money on them and what we've learned is that people like that will spend lots of money on their cars.
posted by threeturtles at 9:14 PM on February 10, 2011


I have had awesome objects which I loved. But I have watched those loved things grow obsolete, and dull. Heartbreaking! Worse, to watch such a thing grow old and worn. I had such a thing. It was my Korg M1.
posted by Goofyy at 1:42 AM on February 11, 2011


Should you feel the need to snuggle with your iPhone.
posted by IndigoRain at 2:03 AM on February 11, 2011


Should you feel the need to snuggle with your iPhone.

Honestly—and this is pretty embarrassing—I do to tend to feel pretty weird if I don't have my phone on me. That includes during bedtime. so I put it in the waistband of my undies.

IT'S TOTALLY NOT STRANGE BECAUSE MY S.O. DOES THE SAME THING.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:19 AM on February 11, 2011


I watched that Strange Love: Eiffel Tower video twice and sent it to a bunch of people who all now think I'm strange. THanks again, metafilter!
posted by bquarters at 2:56 PM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


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