Friday, 9 September 2005

The hidden anthropomorphism of buying things

I'm reading Yann Martel's Life of Pi right now, and at one point he notes the tendency of people to anthropomorphise animals - we think of animals totally in human terms (hey, I do it to Coconut and Rerun all the time). And I think we do it even when we buy things.

For instance, every now and then I'll chance upon a blog entry that will say, to the effect, "the Creative Zen clearly has more features, and I'm ashamed to admit I bought the iPod solely based on looks". But why be embarrassed? Surely the idea that you shouldn't judge based on looks is an idea that should apply only to people - or animals? Whose feelings are hurt if one judges an item based on looks?

(We assume, of course, that the objects being compared both don't have any technical flaws, just that one is better-looking and one is feature-laden.)

Speaking of good-looking, the new Apple iPod Nano looks gorgeous. I'm very pleased about my MP3-playing cellphone (512MB's good enough for my needs), and I can't figure out why I might need something more - I have gadget overload - but it looks great.

anthropomorphism.org, Carnegie Mellon's study on the subject



hmm... but ipod nano seems to have a short battery life? 14 hours?


I wish I could remember where I read about the study about how women are more likely than men to apologize to inanimate objects they bump into.

I tried to laugh it off, until I realized that I totally do it. Usually chairs.


Perhaps this is what you were referring to?

"Men do not apologize to inanimate objects. Have you ever seen a woman bump into a chair and say to the chair, "Oops, I'm sorry"? I've seen women say "excuse me" to wastepaper baskets. I've seen women say "pardon me" to table legs. On occasion, I've seen women apologize to extension cords, department-store mannequins, and packing crates that people have left in the middle of their living rooms.... Guys don't do this. When a guy trips over a packing crate, you know what he does? He curses. He goes, "Who the fuck put this box here?" - even if he left it there himself." - Susan Jane Gilman, "Kiss My Tiara"

One of my favourite lyrics is from the Jam's "A Town Called Malice": "stop apologising for the things you've never done"


It is such an incredible tale (but then I've told you that)... skip, skip, skip all the religion and anthropomorphy nonsense in the beginning and go to where he gets shipwrecked!!!!! And *then* the ride really begins.


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