Love in the Time of Caller ID
When we’re always in touch but never in reach, can true love blossom?
Hold on, I Gotta Answer This
Communications technology now makes it possible to reach someone on a beach
in Costa Rica, the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, the International Space
Station, and in bed.
Michael Chancellor, MD, director of the Center for Urologic Research
Excellence in Pittsburgh, studies male and female sexual dysfunction and says
he has identified a new disorder afflicting hard-charging corporate types when
they're behind closed doors.
"I was in a meeting with my colleagues once and everybody's BlackBerries
kept going on off, and I thought, 'Blackberries are ubiquitous and they affect
business -- I'll bet they affect sex, too," he tells WebMD.
To test this hypothesis, he and colleagues conducted a small online survey
of Ivy League MBAs and found that four in 10 reported that they stopped having
sex to respond to a message on their BlackBerries or other digital devices, and
45% admitted skipping sex for a business meeting, golf game, or night at the
It gives a whole new meaning to the term coitus interruptus.
To foster healthier relationships, Chancellor proposes that Valentine's Day
also be designated as "Turn Off Your BlackBerry Day".
Second Life, Second Wife
Technology can also make strangers bedfellows. According to Mother
Jones magazine, about one-third of women who play the multiplayer online
role-playing game Second Life marry off their avatars, as do about 10%
of men who play. The virtual marriages usually last only a few weeks,
A significant proportion of online players also report having "real"
dates with someone they first met online.
And then of course, there is online infidelity, whether it's a
husband having a virtual affair with a woman he's never met, or, in the case of
Ric and Sue Hoogestraat of metropolitan Phoenix, a husband whose avatar has
another (online) wife, complete with two digital dogs, motorcycles, and a
virtual mortgage. Sue told the Wall Street Journal in August 2007 that
it was upsetting when she tried to communicate with Ric, then her husband of
seven months, and found him "having sex with a cartoon."
That's All She Wrote
The same electronic toys that help us keep in touch, however, can also help
us sever the ties that bind, a phenomenon that has many social psychologists
In a 2005 study of 40 seventh graders published in the web-based Journal
of Computer-Mediated Communications, researchers from the Indiana
University in Bloomington found that nearly one-fourth who reported using
instant messaging said they had used it to break up with someone. And in a 2006
survey by cell phone maker Samsung Technologies, reported in The Washington
Post, 11% of respondents said it was OK to break up with someone via text
message, just as Britney Spears is widely reported to have done with Kevin