Wired columnist Momus (iMomus) is exploring the effect of information addiction on the life of couples. As more and more people (and couples) spend more and more time online, this issue will have quite an impact. What happens during the time spent online while together? How do the partners interact? Do they simply “co-exist” in front of their screens or interact? How so – online or offline? Do they send each other links and instant messages, or do they talk to each other?
The questions Momus is raising gave me quite a bit to chew on:
What about surfing as a form of sociability: do you e-mail each other interesting website addresses? Do you tend to visit the same kinds of sites? I know that when Hisae and I are surfing, language divides us: I’m visiting English-language sites, she’s on Japanese ones. But quite a lot of our interaction is me asking her for explanations of things, Japanese stuff I don’t understand. When that’s going on, we’ll either bring up the same page on two machines, or huddle around one. It’s actually more sociable than TV. (Of course, maybe the TV is on at the same time.) What about more dubious areas: are you secretly looking at porn with your partner right there in the room? Are you flirting with someone else, messaging someone? Because the weird thing about this technology is that it makes what’s distant seem closer than what’s close. Absent people can have more presence than present people. Or do you look at porn together? What about YouTube videos? Is surfing turning back into TV-watching? What’s the sound of a couple surfing? Dead silence, broken only by the sound of two tapping keyboards (quite a pleasant sound, actually)? Is music playing, and if so, who chooses it? Is choosing which iTunes accesses the sound sticks via Airport Express the new fight for the TV remote?