Wikipedia says “insanity” is a spectrum of behaviors characterized by certain abnormal mental or behavioral patterns. These are behaviors that violate social norms. But what if the “norms” weren’t so normal?

Answer me this: When the fish in my TapFish game app on my phone died, why did I get so sad? Why did I feel the weight of loss and suffering when my tanks of virtual fish went belly up? I felt like I let my daughter down (although she stopped playing with the app weeks ago). I’m haunted by the idea of my poor fish starving in their unkempt tanks.

I had built an emotional connection based on the humanization of animated pets.

Well, good for you, Gameview Studios (the creators of TapFish), you got me. I recall other such virtual pet experiences in my past and they get me every time. It’s really not unlike the heartbreak of outliving a real pet. Maybe it’s a good lesson.

A few weeks ago I was discussing social media with a client, and we were wondering what defines a “connection?” Sure there are tweets and retweets and responses and direct messages, but when does a real “connection” begin? Does the tweet need to be responded to? Does there need to be a two-way conversation? My answer was no. And this answer was based on another bit of emotional insanity:

My personal relationship with Danny DeVito.

No, I don’t know Mr. DeVito personally. I’ve never met the man, but I follow him on Twitter (@DannyDeVito). And simply paying attention to his tweets has built emotional equity between the two of us — although it’s only one-sided.

Still, I know of his hatred for dentists, his love of the word “bitches” and what his foot looks like (he posts lots of pictures of his foot — dubbed “Troll Foot” — with a variety of objects). In other words, I’m connected. And when talking about Danny DeVito I mention these facts. When I see a promo for his hit show, “It’s always sunny…” I take notice. Hell, I’ve even watched it several times.

It’s because I’m human. Because the fact is, we empower others with control of our actions and emotions. We choose to give them the power to make us cry, to make us show up to work at a certain time and to make us pull the trigger on purchases. The importance of the relationship and emotional connection is by permission only.

Call us a bunch of suckers, but that’s why I love storytelling. That’s why I love advertising. You can fish for hearts and pull in some big ones with just a :30 second commercial. And those are REAL fish. Not some crappy, no good, virtual fish…

I have to go now… (sniff).

 

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