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Discussion Starter #1
I do this a lot, and yet I often feel that it is a very strange phenomenon. I often feel things for inanimate objects that have no life or feelings whatsoever.

For example, I often will "feel sorry" for some piece of equipment that breaks or does not work well. I have an old heater that I have had for years, and it has worked well, but is now getting old. When I hear it running and it sounds like it is straining to keep working, I feel feelings of compassion toward it. I don't know if that makes sense, it is hard to describe. For another example, if I have to throw something out because it broke or is past its usefulness, I feel bad for the thing, as if it won't get a chance to do what it was supposed to do.

I want to clarify, it's not a sense of feeling sorry that it is a waste to throw things out (i.e. it's not a concern for filing up landfills, etc. Those thoughts are also there too sometimes, but it is separate from this.

Can anyone tell me if you also do this? Is it unusual, or more common than I think? Is it indicative of any kind of problems?
 

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EvilShoutyRudolph
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I feel empathetic towards toilet paper every time I use it. :sad:

 

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I do the same thing pretty much exactly. I used the same computer for 12 years before I had to retire it simply because using the internet on it was getting too much for its old CPU. It still works for non-internet things, though, and I haven't thrown it out since it's been so good to me over the years. Then, instead of buying a totally new computer, I "upgraded" to a computer that's about seven years old that my brother's friend didn't want anymore even though it works perfectly fine. I felt kind of bad for it, a computer being thrown out because its owner upgraded to something better before its time ran out.

To be honest, a lot of the stuff I own was previously used and unwanted by a previous owner that still works just fine. I find it sad how fast people need to upgrade to new stuff all the time and basically not using the old thing to its fullest.

I don't think this is related to any sort of problem... perhaps loneliness? I know in my case I have few people I consider as "friends" and human compassion has to still go somewhere. I wonder if I had more friends if I'd care less about what happens to material things. Another possibility is that you're very sentimental. Humans will attach a lot of feelings towards thing that they have spent a lot of memories with and throwing something out with that many memories attached can bring on sad feelings. For example, there are things I don't really need/want anymore but I still have because they were gifts from people I cared about and no other reason besides that. They mean something to me even if they are items I never would have bought for myself.

Another possibility, as weird as it might sound, is the feeling of relating to the items. I often feel like I'm an unwanted reject of society, so maybe it leads me towards preferring getting an old, rejected item instead of getting a newer version of the same thing.
 
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Towards stuffed animals, appliances, and vehicles, sometimes.
Cause I think of toy story and the brave little toaster.
 

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I used to feel that way all the time, specifically for toys or objects that were dirty or unused. It made me think of lost time and losing spirit. It's a wistful kind of sadness.
 
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Discussion Starter #8
I don't think this is related to any sort of problem... perhaps loneliness? I know in my case I have few people I consider as "friends" and human compassion has to still go somewhere. I wonder if I had more friends if I'd care less about what happens to material things. Another possibility is that you're very sentimental. Humans will attach a lot of feelings towards thing that they have spent a lot of memories with and throwing something out with that many memories attached can bring on sad feelings. For example, there are things I don't really need/want anymore but I still have because they were gifts from people I cared about and no other reason besides that. They mean something to me even if they are items I never would have bought for myself.

Another possibility, as weird as it might sound, is the feeling of relating to the items. I often feel like I'm an unwanted reject of society, so maybe it leads me towards preferring getting an old, rejected item instead of getting a newer version of the same thing.
That makes a lot of sense to me... I can see how it might stem from loneliness, in a way. I don't really have anyone close to me that I feel I can really confide in or call a "best friend," so you might be on to something. Of course, like you said, it may have some sentimentality factor as well. Though that doesn't seem to be all of it; I will even feel this way for something that I have absolutely no feelings attached to at all; i.e. an old car that I see rotting in a junkyard.
 

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I don't do exactly this, but I've read a teensy bit about the process, anthropomorphism. As @Hurricane Matthew suggested, loneliness has been heavily associated with increased anthropomorphism. Following that line of work, Adam Waytz and colleagues made the need for social connection one of three factors in their theory of anthropomorphism. Similarly, Wendi Gardner and colleagues noted that one-sided relationships, such as anthropomorphic attachments to plants and attachments to TV characters, have been correlated with higher belonging needs. They may serve as surrogate relationships when we can't meet those needs.

If you don't have anyone close to you then I can definitely see how this might be involved. I don't have any close irl relationships and find myself anthropomorphizing bugs a lot, alive and dead. When I find them inside I either take them outside so no one kills them or, if they're in my room, sometimes leave them be and jokingly call them my roommates or friends. Occasionally I name them too.

The other two factors in the mentioned theory are nonhuman agents' human resemblance eliciting our knowledge of the self/humans, and applying knowledge of the self/humans to increase control/reduce unpredictability. I'm not sure if the former is involved. There might a basic functional resemblance in so far as you see these objects as doing something for you - as agents providing for you. Especially with something as fundamental as heat and when it's from a definite, visible source like a space heater (as opposed to the largely hidden central heating systems). Helps home feel like home and you have a definite source for the feeling and therefore object of affection.

The latter factor, control and predictability, seems relevant. The examples you give are specifically for broken objects. Anthropomorphizing broken objects is a way of gaining control over them. Instead of directly confronting the randomness, complexity, and tragedy of life in these situations, we treat it like a human interaction, something predictable: we know people better than anything. Broken objects become failed agents - misbehaving, impaired or dead. So we get angry at a slow computer just as we get angry at a slow driver; or saddened by the sounds of a straining heater as with the sounds of someone straining to breath.

A big part of my attachment to bugs is from how rejected and vulnerable they are. I try to include them in my circle of empathy. Just now seeing what @Hurricane Matthew meant in that last comment through this. I constantly struggle with feelings of alienation and inferiority. Maybe I feel a duty to vulnerable bugs similar to what I feel for others dealing with my mental illnesses. Do what you can for them in particular since you know what it's like.

Also, there's a touching Broadcast song about exactly what you've described:
 

The little bell lies on the ground
Although it tries it cannot sound
It used to ring across the air
Its sweetened tone would linger there

But from a careless hand it rocked
Its shell is only made of crock
Although it lies there split in two
It still tries to ring out to you

Now deep inside my wooden clock
There is a tick but not a tock
Although into the room it chimes
It only tells me half the time

Why do you leave me so confused
I'll miss my bus, my job I'll lose
Oh, what is wrong my wooden clock
It breaks my heart to see you stop
 

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No, I feel very sorry towards myself or to the owner if it's damaged, but not for the object itself.

No wait, I do feel sorry for it being damaged, yes, but without feeling compassion to the object I think I just find it such a waste it's get damaged, and I find it hurtful to see.

Many people don't ever feel sorry hurting trees, bugs and some even animals, and here I read about someone feeling sorry for things that have no life at all. We surely aren't all the same.

I will leave it in the middle if something is wrong with anyone.
 

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I have more empathy for animals than I do for people, and sometimes even for inanimate objects. It is silly and unproductive, but I can become torn up when an appliance is senselessly broken and discarded.
 

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I have apologized to a mannequin before. Then imagined that it is actually a sentient being that's trapped in a constant state of silence and confined to an un-movable body until deemed useless and most likely burned or shoved into the corner of a dark room for the rest of its existence. That would suck.
 

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I use to have date told me that, she use to feel bad every time she use an eraser, "it must be very painful for an eraser" she said to me.
 
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