Self –
Why do we as humans get so attached to inanimate things? Does the physicality of them matter? More importantly, how are these bonds being formed?

“Self –” is a digital archive of stories that reflects the bonds we build with “objects”.

This archive exists as a way for people to gain a deeper perspective on how their thoughts and memories are being reflected through the “objects” that they are attached to.{ + }
Creator’s Notes

When I first started this project, I only received submissions from friends. As I read through the stories being sent to me, I found myself getting quite emotional. A big part of this is due to the fact that I actually know the person behind the stories. But what I found to be really interesting was the way that these “objects” represented a tiny piece of them as a person. A piece of them that I didn’t really know about. Some stories felt really intimate, while others made me smile from how closely they reflected that person. In retrospect, the “objects” themselves became less and less important and the focus turned to the stories and emotions behind the “object”.

It has become apparent to me that almost everyone builds some type of relationship with the things around them. I realized that these objects seem to hold emotional value because they act as an extension of ourselves. They become a manifestation of our emotions, feelings, memories, etc. Whether they’re physical or not, these “objects” around us manage to form bonds with us in ways that are quite phenomenal – hence the reason for the quotations around objects. Oftentimes people don’t even realize they are emotionally attached to something until confronted with that question. I believe that the best way to explain this phenomena is to simply allow others to experience it, which led to the creation of this project.{ + }
i dont want to kick anyone off my island tho
like i am so emotionally attached

– A friend talking about Animal Crossing

When you search “Final Fantasy VII Remake” on YouTube, you will see plenty of videos of emotional reactions from players seeing the new game for the first time. Is the nostalgia of having an old classic game being recreated the reason for this emotional reaction? Even if it is so, one would need a very strong bond to this game to have such a reaction.

A couple months ago, one of the video games I played released a new character. One that I had been highly anticipating. I had saved a lot of in-game currency and materials in preparation for this character’s arrival. However, the game works on a luck system, which means no specific character is guaranteed – and with my luck, I didn’t get the one I had wanted. I was instantly hit with this immense feeling of sadness and disappointment. I sat in my room silently sulking. At one point I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. “It’s just a game. Why am I so sad?”

When I think back to that moment today, I am slowly confronted with the reality of why it held so much emotional control over me. At the time, there was a lot going on in my life. I was constantly stressed about different things, and I wouldn’t necessarily say that I was the happiest. A lot of changes were heading my way and the unknown caused me more anxiety than I would like to admit. These weren’t really problems that I couldn’t overcome, but I just simply didn’t want to think about them. I needed a distraction from my own thoughts, and I guess in a way, the release of this new character was the only thing that I could actually look forward to.

Some might say that it’s “stupid” to hold value to something that supposedly only grants you temporary happiness. Yet, this artificial being provided the only form of happiness that I could hold onto at the time – I guess this is why the trivial event of not obtaining this character caused so much sadness and disappointment for me. Unconsciously I had allowed myself to project my own emotions onto this inanimate thing – in ways that only I could fully understand.

Scarlet Li
April 2021