?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Tell me about couples and surfing! - click opera
February 2010
 
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
 
 
 
 
 
 
Page 1 of 11
[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 11:03 am
Tell me about couples and surfing!

I'm about to write my next Wired column. I've decided it's going to be about the effect of information addiction on the life of couples. And I'd like your help, because I don't want it just to be me going on about me. But naturally it starts with me, what I've observed in my own life. Here's a photo of me and my then-girlfriend (she's now happily married to someone else) Shizu, back in 2002.



We're sitting at breakfast, each glued to our iBooks. Now, I'm not sure if there's anything "wrong" with this picture. If we were reading newspapers, nobody would think it terribly strange. We're both nerdy people who thrive on a constant flow of information. Not all of our life together was spent staring at a computer screen. But quite a lot of it was.

In a sense it was a life-saver: crammed together in a tiny Tokyo apartment, our iBooks gave us a sense of "electronic personal space" which filled out the limited physical space. Each screen was like a virtual private room we could retreat into.

But I'm also interested in the problems that "information couples" run into. I know that I don't really watch TV any more. I'm online all the time. But whereas a couple watching TV, curled up on a sofa together, may have felt "together", a couple surfing on two wifi laptops are visiting different sites, having different experiences. They seem more apart than together. The internet age feels less communal than the TV age did.

So how does surfing impact on your relationship? Is one of you more info-addicted than the other? If so, is there a sense that the less-addicted partner is some kind of "information widow" (or widower)? Bereaved by the internet? Does one of you have more to do online than the other? Does the first one to be bored online dictate some offline activities, or does the one who wants to stay online longest make the other one click around aimlessly for hours?

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?

And how close or far apart are you physically when you surf? Are you lying on the same sofa, legs intertwined, laptops touching lids, or sitting at opposite ends of the house on imposing desktops?

Tell me about couples and surfing. I'd like, if I may, to use some of your comments in my Wired piece, so please tell me your full name (or the name you'd like to be known by in the piece). If your comments are off the record, say so. And if you don't want your partner to know you're spilling the beans to Momus, tilt your screen away now.

235CommentReply

geeveecatullus
geeveecatullus
clodia pulchra
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 09:12 am (UTC)

I am single so I cannot speak to myself, but it amuses me so much when couples I know sometimes communicate with each other via instant messaging because they are too lazy to walk to their respective rooms.


ReplyThread
geeveecatullus
geeveecatullus
clodia pulchra
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 09:12 am (UTC)

*speak for myself of course.
I speak *to* myself quite a lot.


ReplyThread Parent Expand




pablarribas - (Anonymous) Expand


rhodri
rhodri
Rhodri Marsden
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 09:14 am (UTC)

Just before I started reading this entry, I remarked to Jenny that it was fairly unusual for us to be sitting up in bed, side by side, laptops on our respective knees. She was making the mistake of looking up the symptoms of her sore throat on line (it could be syphilis, apparently) and I was trying to get Spectrasonics Trilogy working for a rehearsal this afternoon.

Now I've read this above, I feel slightly better about what seemed distinctly antisocial 10 minutes ago. Of course, if we were both reading the Sunday papers, that would be fine, although it would be a bit weird, because it's Tuesday.


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 09:19 am (UTC)

Ha, I'm getting into your habit of asking my readers for help with my tech-related articles, Rhodri! Does that make us an "information couple", I wonder? Pass the sugar, sugar!


ReplyThread Parent Expand

nato_dakke
nate
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 09:35 am (UTC)

congratulations on what is by far your most interesting subject yet for a piece at wired.

Wish I could contribute. My girlfriend and I don't get but a couple nights together a week, so I just hold off. We both profess to using the internet all evening when there's nothing to do, but we never chat or email one another. Our relationship is pretty well cordoned off into the analog.


ReplyThread
amiame
amiame
amiame
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 09:36 am (UTC)

My boyfriend and I spend a great deal of time online. I love new information, new sites, new images - everything is so easily accessible, everything moves at such speed. I like keeping in touch with my friends through reading their Livejournals or other blogs, and through MSN, as I don't live near the university I go to, and it's a hell of a lot easier than phone calls. I also access a lot of online texts for my course (through JSTOR, or Project Gutenburg, or suchlike place) so I don't have to go and buy loads of books. I love being able to Google a new band I've heard of, and find out loads about them, instantly, or type in some strange term, and have Wikipedia explain it for me. On a geekier note, I tend to spend time on online forums as I'm in the ABJD hobby (asian ball-joint dolls/dollfies), which is quite obscure in the UK, so the only way I CAN communicate with other people through the hobby is the internet. I love the internet 'language' that started out on bulletin boards, and how quickly it mutates. I love buying random crap on eBay. I love finding any picture that I want. I love being able to download music I can't find in the shops.

Initially my boyfriend could feel a bit left out, but it's not uncommon now for us to be both sat in his bedroom/kitchen (like your photo) with both computers on. Although we may be looking at different sites, there isn't anything furtive about it - for one thing we sit next to each-other, so we can see each-other's monitors. Also (somehow) my boyfriend connected the computer to the tv, so we can watch Youtube on the television screen, or anything else - films, music videos or Flash cartoons or anything that takes our fancy, just as if we were watching a tv channel together - except we can select the information, and tailor it to our own geeky tastes :)

If I was more into the internet than he was, or vice versa, then I can imaigne it could cause some conflict. But the way we are I don't really see it as unhealthy or ubergeeky: it's our 'magic box', a tool, an instrument, it does what we want, we can read anything, see anything, anytime we wish. But we have other stuff in our lives as well - we go out to gigs, work, we do art things, we lie around not saying anything.

My real name is Anna C. :D


ReplyThread
xishimarux
xishimarux
ishimaru
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 09:51 am (UTC)

When I'm by myself (Hello my name is Alex :) I use the internet for just about everything. Social contacts to musical research comes from the internet. My girlfriend Christina likes to watch TV and uses the internet for research but it's not as important as Laguna Beach or whatever else is on TV. Which is fine by me. Yin and Yang. When we surf together she's sitting on my leg or in my lap hanging out. We look up movies or look up the weather at the beach and get out the house usually. Sometimes it's used for ... erotic purposes and we leave to the bedroom. lol. When we use it together its a tool to further our relationship. When she goes to China to visit her family I'll get emails and we'll Skype together now that there's a version for OS X. Someday I want to travel with her so we look up travel spots and good places to go. My computer is also my studio for music so I'll test some tracks out on her in Ableton or show her the latest trick I learned. I know she's not really that interested but it's nice she'll hang with me while I musically nerd out. I try not to around her but sometimes it can't be helped. Well thats it for me :)


ReplyThread
lecabinet
lecabinet
le cabinet des lettrés
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 09:54 am (UTC)

My boyfriend and I met at a real life meetup for people on LJ, rather than through a dating site or such, and I know that the way we met has affected out relationship. I feel like I 'owe' LJ for us meeting, we tend to write filtered posts between ourselves, much nicer than an email.
IOur online addictions have also come between us; only last night I went out, turning my speakers off but leaving iTunes on. Through LastFM my boyfriend thought I was still at home and kept phoning me. Being internet stalked by your own boyfriend is pretty rubbish.

One more thing; watching someone else surf is the single most frustrating thing. We both have desktops in our respective houses, so when he comes over he gets a bit posessive with the mose. I've been known to leave the room to stop myself looking over his shoulder.


ReplyThread
geeveecatullus
geeveecatullus
clodia pulchra
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 09:57 am (UTC)

Through LastFM my boyfriend thought I was still at home and kept phoning me. Being internet stalked by your own boyfriend is pretty rubbish.

hahahahaha! That's too cute.


ReplyThread Parent


mcgazz
mcgazz
McGazz
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 10:16 am (UTC)

Her: Draped across the couch, in front of the telly, laptop on lap.
Me: Sat in Blofeld-style chair in small upstairs room, desktop on desk.
If one of us wants the other one, we go and get them - we don't email each other unless we've had a row and aren't talking.


ReplyThread
stanleylieber
stanleylieber
Stanley Lieber
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 10:19 am (UTC)

We've both had laptops for years and text chat while sitting next to each other on the couch. We also chat all day long while at work, so in some ways our relationship is more real than traffic congestion and shift schedules. I don't so much separate the online interaction out into a degenerative form of communication though; it's difficult to communicate things like images, sounds and URLs through speech.


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 10:25 am (UTC)

Good point, that! I have a tendency to think of computers as something "textual", something which can't match the textural qualities of real world interaction. But of course they're texturally more rich than language on its own can be.


ReplyThread Parent Expand



(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand




fugitivemotel
fugitivemotel
Make Music Not Friends
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 10:39 am (UTC)

I was talking about this topic with some friends recently. I think you'll find the blog entry named "ben", in Amanda Palmer's blog (Amanda is the singer in the Dresden Dolls) of some interest. It's a fascinating look at how couples can sometimes interact better through the internet than in real life: http://www.dresdendolls.com/diary (scroll down to the entry named "ben").


ReplyThread
onthemoon
trygve
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 10:45 am (UTC)

My girlfriend and I have spent most of the past 2 years living on opposite sides of the country (thankfully coming to an end in 3 weeks), and one of the common, rather silly, practices we have developed is sharing links via aim during our phone conversations of whatever random things we may be talking about. So we manage to surf together despite being on opposite sides of the country.


ReplyThread
heinzbitte
Andrew
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 10:57 am (UTC)

I guess this is kind of like what lecabinet said. But I wonder if couples who actually met on the Internet and before they met in person used instant messaging to talk, now feel like it is still a normal thing to do when they are right next to eachother.


ReplyThread
wickedanima
Wicked
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 11:09 am (UTC)

Being a 'plugged in' couple works quite well for myself and my boyfriend. More often than not, we are online separately, if only because of his nightshift hours as a front desk clerk of a hotel. In that case, I can often keep in touch or feel more 'close' to him without having long phone silences with occasional gushy commentary. IM is just as good if not better, and a lot less distracting.

When we do surf together, it is almost always side by side, and we are more than contented to simply email one another links or pictures that we find amusing. Although the closeness may be due to the fact that we live in a small place, we do enjoy one another's presence regardless of what distracting activity is being enjoyed. We don't listen to the same types of music, so it is generally a TV show on in the background.

On the dubious hand, we are not the types to be jealous. We both have a peculiar sensibility that allows us to share any good/amusing/interesting Porn that we should stumble across on the internet (and as he is quick to point out, a good majority of it comes from me.) As for flirting, the same rules apply as in real life if we are at a club, flirting is fine, because everyone knows who will be in the flesh and blood in his bed tonight.


ReplyThread
maestro55
maestro55
Steve
Sun, Jun. 4th, 2006 06:59 pm (UTC)

I just have to agree with you, too many people seem to be jealous about who their partner is talking to or what they are looking at. I think that if two people are in love they should be content enough to casually flirt with others (generally nothing is truly meant by it).

Sounds like you and your boyfriend have everything down the way you two like it, and that is great. Nice when you can meet someone who you can have a relationship with and not be second guessing eachother all the time.

Steve


ReplyThread Parent Expand


(Anonymous)
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 11:50 am (UTC)
The end of factual disagreements

Hi, I am Hans, Norwegian living in Tokyo. I'll let you in on a blessing and a curse for an internet addicted couple: It prematurely ends most disagreements about facts. One thing is being at home, rushing to the computer to look up some disputed fact - that was possible in the past, albeit a bit more time consuming, with a good encyclopedia at hand. But here in Tokyo, our keitais are equipped with full fledged browsers (no i-mode, many au phones run Opera). So imagine sitting at a cafe, just starting a lively discussion about a Soviet republic or something, and Siren (my girlfriend) flips up her phone, looks up the factual tidbit, and triumphs by both finding it AND it is of course in her favor. No thrill. No sullen looks. No knocking over of tables. No make-up sex.


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 11:54 am (UTC)
Re: The end of factual disagreements

But even before the internet existed, did anyone have make-up sex over a Soviet Republic? I mean, apart from Gorbachev?


ReplyThread Parent Expand


(Anonymous)
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 12:14 pm (UTC)

A couple of years ago I saw a piece at an art show in Bonn, I think it was, where an artist (a Svedish one, I seem to remember; sorry, can't be more precise) had reconstructed the virtual rooms he had imagined together with his girlfriend when they were living on different continents and could only communicate via chat. (talk, for those old enough to remember.)

Slightly off topic, as you want to know about physically copresent couples, but it brings in the art angle you might otherwise miss. (I'm sure the Japan angle is sorted already.)

der.


ReplyThread
moodycow
moodycow
*
Wed, May. 31st, 2006 05:41 am (UTC)

i think you are referring to christian jankowski: http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/works/lets-get-physical/


ReplyThread Parent
dr__ben
dr__ben
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 12:24 pm (UTC)

i love our geeky life on the sofa. without wanting to be too pedestrian and domestic, one thing i'm really grateful for is how it's opened up a whole new area of domestic drudgery that i can at least derive some satisfaction from. a man's place is definitely making the network attached storage work, etc. the only question is how long it can be until we get cleaners to sift through the accumulated crud.


ReplyThread
dr__ben
dr__ben
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 12:29 pm (UTC)

and we fight over juice, so i bought my girlfriend a new power supply for her birthday last week and decorated it lovingly with embossed hearts. oh, and we talk about each other in blog comments without the other one noticing. heheheh.


ReplyThread Parent