Love & Devices
I confess, I am a nerdgirl who loves her toys. So this is a column about technology, toys and relationships.
First, about the addictive stuff, which you non-tech obsessives call the bad habits. When I heard that Jennifer Aniston had broken up with John Mayer because he said he was too busy to see her—but he kept posting tweets online—I knew that Jennifer Aniston, if in some alternative, bizarro universe we were dating—would have dumped me, too. You see, my love of the way technology keeps me connected to the planet mostly likely matches—or outstrips—John Mayer’s. (Maybe we should date?)
If you are dating me, you ARE dating my devices.
For starters, there is my Blackberry. No one could keep his or her Blackberry closer than I do, not even if it turned into a helpless little pocketbook dog. My Blackberry is so omnipresent and my checking it so regular that my friends and lovers are known to say “Put that Blackberry away now!” at least a few times a week. Just like a Japanese teenager in a shopping mall, I believe that my little hand-held machine, slipped into a jacket pocket, connects me to the world and keeps me from being cruelly alone (and bored; I crave a high amount of information, brain is restless.)
Truth is, I don’t see the tweets, the texts and the email scanning I engage in almost as frequently as breathing as a rejection of my sweetie and my pals, I see them as my chance to take hits of an Interwebs oxygen that keeps my blood gases stable, a virtual relationship CRM that—much to my shock—can make my real life significant other and my pals feel a little slighted. (“Uh, sorry,” I mumble, as I slip it back into my pocket.)
And then, there is my computer. It’s not that my MacBook Pro—now covered with stickers and a little banged up from 12 months of travel—is any different than anyone else’s—it’s that this little machine is the gateway to my LIFE. Email, blogs, twitter, facebook, writing, poetry, photos, music—they’re all crammed inside this machine, my very own looking glass and two-way mirror to Wonderland.
My machine is so much the parallel data port to my brain—and the gateway to my activities, work and social network—that I think of it, not the places I am at, as home. This means that if you’re not one of those people who likes to sit, computer out, and noodle on your laptop as you talk, I might drive you crazy because I like to do that at least 20% of the time, especially if we’re just hanging out relaxing in a room other than the kitchen or the bedroom.
And then there’s my Twitter. OMG, do I love twitter. Now, I admit, I’m not as big a fan of twitter as my friend Robert Scoble, who posts more than 20 times a day, or my friend Amy Gahran, who tweets almost as often, but I still love me my twitter stream, both the reading and the writing parts.
Jennifer Anniston may have gotten pissed by John Mayer’s addiction to his tweets, but my sweetie A doesn’t feel that way; he’s more bemused by what I find so fascinating in this endless stream of 140 character posts. For A, twitter isn’t vital information about 940 people I kinda “know,” it’s a kind of noise equivalent to watching a dog watch TV-totally superfluous and mostly boring. And yet, he doesn’t go there with me, thank God.
(And I don’t indulge in twittering our private moments, or during dinner, or while he’s ironing my suit, like Ashton Kutcher did with Demi Moore, or….)
Of course, not all devices are destructive to relationships. Some help them, or make them a whole lot more fun (smile).
When I told the BlogHer contributing editors I was writing this piece, they sent me links to stories of people who met and fell in love online (on twitter!), like Emily Chang and Max Kisler and Gwen Bell and Joel Longtine, or links to where women they know were getting it on discussing their sex toys and vibrators, like the Mommy blogging community Room 704, or the Momservations discussion featuring, uh, handcuffs.
In both of these use cases, if you will, tech is making things better—bringing couples together in public yet somewhat transparent ways to declare their love—and fueling what have to be, at the end of the day, well-researched vibrator recommendations.
That’s all good, of course, but what we need to acknowledge devices do even more keenly is provide virtual real world experiences couples can share. Whether it’s new music or funny videos on YouTube, naughty stuff on YouPorn (yep, just what it sounds like), or watching TV shows online via Hulu, lots of friends have stories about their new habits.
For me and A, there was the bout of Unchained Melody videos we watched obsessively as we both fell in love with that old song (and with one another), for my friends L &E, it’s the Hulu viewings of hit TV shows on the laptop late at night in bed when the kids are asleep; for my pal CG, it’s lots of doses of BattleStar Galactica with her sweetie and his friends(and his wife).
Another important point to note is that there are many ways in which online communication can drive fun and flirtation between couples that heats up real life. More than one person can testify about the heat quotient of sexy tweets and SMS.
At the same time, asynchronous communication makes active listening possible. My friend Marissa and her husband Greg have a whole set of separate email accounts where they discuss the operational aspects of their relationship, household, and kids. Asked about this, Marissa says “I think email has saved my marriage more than once.” What does she mean? “Greg and I are able to say things to one another via email, truth to power and all that, that would be really hard to share face to face, in real time. We rely on our email as an important supplement to real-world conversations.”
And then, of course, there are the people who are so into their devices—and into sharing the online experience—that they end up actually creating content—and products—that help express their relationship to one another in a more public way.
Sean Percival and his wife Laurie have lalawag, an LA tech and tech society blog they program just about daily. My friend Jim Brady, former WashPo editor and his wife Joan, a photographer, are currently in the midst of Fred and Hank Mark America, an almost real time chronicle of their cross country trip with their beagles Hank and Fred, exploring the country while Jim ponders what to do next. And sweethearts Melissa Gira and Nick Douglas, along with some good friends, have collaborated on the plans for boffery, a sexual map of who did what with whom and when that just may become the next topic for edgy mommy-bloggers, sometime real soon.
Is there a tech toy your partner has to pry out of your hot little hands? Or an electronic device (beside the Hitachi) you hide from your dates? Spill all in the comments, or say nothing, as you wish.
Items to relish from around the blogosphere:
Anaiis Flox: The Disconnect in the age of ambient awareness
“Steven Porricelli has never thrown his wife’s laptop out the window, but he’s wanted to.
“Technology is a necessary evil,” he told LifeWire about his wife, Jane, who runs MomGenerations.com. “She’s always texting in one hand and Twittering (an online social network and messaging service) on the other. I’ve woken up before and she’ll be zonked out in bed with the laptop on her lap. It’s insane.”
My husband can relate—and he’s not the only one.”
Au Revoir Goodbye So Long: Museum of my marriage
“I’m tempted to give my mother-in-law the marriage certificate, my ring, and the dress - humble as it was - for inclusion in her remarkable display: “A Marriage Dissolved but Ongoing In This House.” These artifacts might find their only use in further illustrating our once entwined life, as portrayed in image after image hung or propped in house. There we are on the mantle in Maine, Alex leaning against me. On the wall by the dining room table, we’re captured in all of our tight nerves on our wedding day. The fridge has me after Bea’s birth, flushed with love, and another of Alex in the park with Bea the day before Thomas’ birth. In a plexi frame on the bureau in the guest room, we’re posed with our dog, who is now decrepit. Along the stairwell, we stand in a tux and long black gown at his sister’s wedding, more dressed up and posh than ever before or since.”
Mistress M: Big Balls
“In case you have missed it, I am outspoken. I speak my mind. No one walks all over me, I am not a doormat….and if anyone dares not realize this I will de-ball them (assuming they belong to the male population of human society) and feed their balls to them. Simply because I want them to know that “Under no circumstances am I to be used as their punching beg.” Women are a whole another ball game. Most of them back down when they feel my sense of dominance. It’s just how I am programmed.
This alpha personality is mostly a learned behavior from past experiences, but I am just this way, to a serious fault I am a bitch”