It's interesting the loves we claim in life. Everything from soup and gasoline brands to sporting teams and people we don’t even know. In many ways these attachments can feel real and authentic. The way we go on about what/who we say we love and why. On the other hand, it can seem akin to puppy love. Is there a deeper truth?
For instance, I love the Michigan State Spartans. I’m a loyal season ticket holder. For the better part of a decade I’ve made my way north each fall, across the miles to Spartan Stadium, to watch my team win. And lose. Rain or shine, warm and cold, I’m there in my precious nose-bleed seat. “Go green; go white,” I chant, along with some 50,000 other fans.
All this despite the fact that nary a player on the current squad do I know personally. For some reason that glaring fact feels a minor detail, me not having actually met any of them I mean. Every couple of years I do manage make a passing acquaintance with a player or coach and that’s kind of cool.
For instance, I once literally bumped into current MSU football coach Mark Dantonio passing through a restroom door prior to a game. I was on cloud nine for weeks. Can you imagine? Just because I ran into him. FYI, if it had been anyone else I’d have had choice thoughts for the guy; after all, he was entering from the exit door.
Each fall I find myself rooting for people with whom I have no real personal acquaintance. It all makes me wonder just how much my admiration for the team would change, one way or the other, if I knew the players – actually met them. Sat down with them. It’s quite easy to imagine that I’d love my team all the more because of the firsthand investment I would have actually know them.
Back to Soup. My mom loves Campbell's. Oh, she partakes in other brands, like Progresso for instance. But when she has a cold or feels under the weather, her go-to product? Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup.
Is Campbell's a wellness cure-all? Who knows? It works for her. So she says. And after all, isn't that what's most important? What works?
Then there are inanimate objects we love. Cars, phones, refrigerators – technology people use and swear by according to brand (i.e., Ford, Apple, Samsung) they have purchased over the years.
What's rather interesting is when a person experiences the failure of a brand to deliver; loyalty seems to fly right out the window. Rather quickly too, especially if a fair amount of money is involved. This despite years the brand may have previously proven itself.
Don't get me wrong, a lot of folks stick with their brand even when it doesn’t always meet expectations. Take me and the Spartans. Until more recent seasons, I billed my team as “the best .500 squad in college football,” meaning one game they’d play brilliantly, the next they’d be a no show.
This whole love thing, the claim of having it for people we don’t even know (athletes, actors, musicians) or for things like sporting teams and refrigerator brands; it all seems to be about emotional or connection.
Again the question: is it real? When a person says they “love” someone or something, is the word being used as a placeholder for something less than the true magnitude of the word? Or is the word being used with calculated precision? Perhaps in the end there are different ways of loving. And if it’s possible to love different kinds of things, isn’t it possible to love different kinds of people?
Follow J.R. on Twitter @4humansbeing or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.