Episode 56: iPhone Abstinence App

Episode 56: iPhone Abstinence App

The Overthinkers tackle Comic-Con, fandom, vampires, and dudes who date fictional characters.

Matthew Wrather hosts with Peter Fenzel and Mark Lee, with special guest podcaster Lindsay Eanet. Topics include Comic-Con, fandom, vampires, and dudes who date fictional characters.

To join the debate on real vs. pretend people, first visit the New York Times article “Love in 2D.”

Tell us what you think! Email us or call 20-EAT-LOG-01—that’s (203) 285-6401. And… spread the overthinking by forwarding this episode to a friend!

Download Episode 56 (MP3)

9 Comments on “Episode 56: iPhone Abstinence App”

  1. Lindsay Eanet #

    One quick correction: “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” is on ABC Family, not the CW. Both are obviously distinctive and wonderful purveyors of quality TV drama. My bad.

    Anyway, thanks again to everyone for listening. If you have any questions, or if you’re a proud LARP-er looking to defend your leisure-time activities, don’t hesitate to leave a comment and start the discussion.


  2. Sylvia #

    Wow everyone. That was a spectacular podcast. Truly.

    The relationship with a fictional character, that Mark brought up, reminds me of the people who have relationships with Real Dolls. These are gentlemen (I’m unaware of women who do this) who, rather than date human beings, have dolls that look like human women and these men call these dolls their girlfriends. There are entire lives and relationships based around these dolls, and the dolls are treated like real people.

    There seems to be a purposeful disconnect with reality going on here. A decision to believe that relationship without a human being is a genuine relationship. So, now there are two versions of this idea. A genuine relationship with a significant other who is a creation of the human’s own brain, and a relationship with a fictional character who is the creation of someone else.

    Both are instances of the benefits of the fantasy outweighing the benefits of reality.

    If I had more time, I’d be able to come up with a better conclusion. But this is what the conversation reminded me of. The BBC did a documentary called “Love Me, Love My Doll” if you want to look more into this.

    Also, Wrather needs to have more frustrated outbursts. His Taylor Swift rant was hilarious.


  3. Matthew Wrather #

    Awww…shucks. I’m glad the fact that I am full of hate and bitterness can bring such joy to our audience.


  4. Gab #

    I like what you said about the Terminator franchise and how you look for the good stuff, Lee. That’s how I try to approach other franchises I’m into. People would be a lot happier if they did that instead of harping on what they could be displeased with.

    Hey Lindsay, you rock! Nicely articulated and informed.

    Wow, Wrather, you totally esploded over Miss Swift, yeah. I wasn’t expecting such a visceral reaction. Day-um. Would you ever write a post about her? It’s still not 100% clear to me why you loathe her so.


    Fenzel, my RPG group’s vice: cheese cubes. Why cheese cubes? I don’t even know. There were women besides me, too.

    The fake girlfriend-doll thing came up in an episode of _Pushing Daisies_. It’s the thing Sylvia said, a doll thought of as a real person, actually loved and perceived to have its own consciousness, motivations, etc. Apart from causing worry for the well-being of those people, the article *creeps me out* because the characters are all under-aged, and it’s as if the real people are finding ways to live out their pedophilic desires. I suppose it’s “safer” than *actual* pedophilia, but I can’t help but think a person going that far needs serious mental health intervention. Fenzel, I think there is a legitimate comparison between the article and the way tween girls literally dump their boyfriends over Edward Cullen/Robert Patterson (whatever) in how both the people in the article and the girls are emotionally immature and have unrealistic views of love and romance. The girls are “socially dysfunctional” (good way of putting it, btw) because they aren’t old enough to be developed in that way yet; the men are because they never developed in the first place (or had such a traumatic experience that they regressed). It’s harmful for both, imo. I suppose it could be considered preserving social norms, but I’ll use your own words: “Where does it end?” If you saw a person genuinely in love with a mailbox, would you not worry because they’re just thinking outside social norms? Analogy: think of it sort of like security blankets or teddy bears belonging to little children: once the kid reaches a certain age, it’s no longer cute or funny, it’s considered unhealthy and “needs” to stop. The fantasy that Teddy is a real person that can think and feel only works for so long- and is only desired for so long in typical circumstances. My bottom line is, is it really healthy to “train your imagination” (as the guy in the article said) and live in a fantasy world? My own personal answer is no because you aren’t getting the full experience of human contact and any “reciprocation” is purely contrived within one’s own mind. Why not teach them how to experience love and human emotion instead of manufacture it in their head?

    3 Reasons to hear Pete’s First-Person Narrative: 1. My curiosity is piqued, 2. he’s adorable, and 3. it’s bound to be better than a lot of the crap-tastic fanfic out there.


  5. Sylvia #

    @ Gab
    From reading the article, it seems as though these people have already been taught, through experience, that manufactured love and emotion is better than real love and emotion.

    The stories reflect a choice of this lifestyle after having failed relationships. Yes, there is an element of not developing the social skills needed for adult interaction. The social development seems to end at adolescence. The developmental break could be attributed to natural shyness exacerbated into deep seated anxieties and finally outright fear of interation with others. Because sometimes interaction with others, with emphasis on the romantic relationships mentioned in the article, leads to being dumped and getting hurt and it sucks. The Real Doll and the pillowcases will never dump you.

    I don’t think it’s an outright mental health problem. There’s nothing really “wrong” with these people. Rather, they’re such victims of their own insecurities that reality has become traumatic. At the end of the article, Nisan says he’s not happy. He’s chosen his current relationship because he doesn’t see any other way or receiving love and companionship.

    Does this “creep me out?” Well, sorta. I would be more creeped out if there seemed to be contempt for human beings. A genuine sociopathological lack of comprehension on how human beings work and interact. But, I don’t get that vibe from the 2-D article. It seems that people like Nisan or just incredibly, deeply disappointed with the real world. It’s kinda sad really.


  6. Gab #

    @Sylvia: Very wonderfully put. I agree mostly, especially on how the adults get trapped in adolescence. And how sad reading the piece was- I found it rather difficult to finish, frankly.

    But I think my inability to get past the age discrepancies between the humans and the characters they fantasize about is why I still see it as at least somewhat of a mental health issue. Their need for the dolls to be little girls probably does stem from their trapped mental state, but the romantic and sexual aspects change the dynamic for me in a way I can’t move beyond. The pillow case would never leave them, no, but to speak in their terms, would it know any better or be able to comprehend if it should? And the reclusive lives it could lead to, the lack of real interaction, sort of makes me think of how when a person locks themselves up in their apartment after a break-up, their friends and family are expected to bust in and get them showered, fed, and back in the real world. I know it’s not the exact same thing, but again, in Fenzel’s words, “Where does it end?”

    I don’t have a degree in psychology, so I would love to know if you or anyone else could give me some insight as to why psychologists and shrinks tell people to move on and seek other relationships, and whether a shrink would encourage something like this if it was what the patient ended up choosing.


  7. Sam #

    Has anyone here seen the documentary Strange Love: Married to the Eiffel Tower? It follows a group of women who have fallen in love with inanimate objects and tend to shun human contact (although which causes which is not entirely clear). If I remember correctly, at least two of the women have Asperger Syndrome and some of them have been diagnosed with PTSD or have had some form of trauma earlier in life. The women interviewed also discuss animism; they have not fallen in love with the object so much as the soul of the object, a concept which they say just doesn’t coincide with “western” beliefs.
    Of course, this is an even more extreme group, I think they only have around 50 members worldwide.


  8. Megan from Lombard #

    I named my car the TARDIS, although it’s a VW Beetle so it’s not bigger on the inside…

    Matthew’s explosive rant on Taylor Swift was made of win and I completely agree with it.

    Maybe the ‘purity ring app’ stops you from having phone sex…

    Has anyone heard of the BBC show ‘Being Human’? It’s about a Ghost, Vampire and Werewolf that live together and are trying to have a normal life while dealing with their “abilities”. It’s really well done and I think that is a good example of what you were talking about; how now it’s about the ‘things that go bump in the night’ are trying to fit in with their surroundings.

    Here’s one girl that plays D&D (my first roll was a 20 and my friends hated me the rest of the game).

    Fandom can be scary yet awesome at the same time. The fans love it when the creator/writers listen to them and integrate what they like/dislike but at the same time when the creator/writers basically gives the fans the ‘one-up’ sign and do whatever they want they actually drive the fans away with their pretentiousness. I guess that some fail to realize that without the fans then there would be no fandom for that show/comic/etc.

    I see that fan-fiction is a way for some people to excerpt some control over a show/fandom where they have very little. They can change an outcome for something that happened which they might not like or work with a different universe where one little action changed the entire outcome of something. Yes there are really bad fics as well as the Mary Sue/Gary Stu’s and unfortunately that is what gets the most attention and seems to give the genre a bad name but at the same time there are writers out there who do produce quality/superior stuff to that of the writers for the specific fandom.


Add a Comment