Head slumped downward toward the gadget in the palm: welcome to the New American Posture!
Nearly three-quarters of people asked by a Harris Interactive poll (http://www.jumio.com/2013/07/americans-cant-put-down-their-smartphones-even-during-sex/) said they’re within 5 feet of their smartphones most of the time. A fifth of them use their smartphone in their place of worship, one in eight bring it into the shower with them, and more than half admit to calling or texting while behind the wheel.
But sit down for this: Among those between the libidinous ages of 18 and 34, one in five text or answer their phone during sex. This must be a new high in multitasking. Or maybe it’s a low.
Studies show that when we multitask, we’re not as effective as when we focus on a single item. Where are the monotasking workshops?
Even beyond that issue, though, I have to ask myself what call I’d accept during carnal riot. Maybe my kid got busted and needs bail? Or maybe my mother fell and can’t get up?
Could the fire department be trying to notify me that my home is burning?
The chance my call is of red-light-and-siren urgency is about the same as my chance of winning the lottery. However advisable it might be to reach over my partner for the phone, doing so loses me more than a quantum of pleasant friction; I’ve turned away from an intimate moment with another person.
Coitus interruptus smartphonus extends the social separation we’ve been enacting awhile now. Disdaining carpools, we commute to work alone. In ever greater numbers we move into gated communities. Instead of chatting with neighbors on the porch, we opt instead to veg out in front of the tube.
Teens these days prefer texting over phoning — an ominous trend since phoning, after all, is a conversation in real time, requiring commitment in the form of presence and attention to nuance. Txtng is jst bascs, & u don’t evn hv 2 ansr rt away.
For some of us, evidently, sex has fallen to just another task among the multi. As the radio comedy group Firesign Theatre sang, “How can you be in two places at once when you’re nowhere at all?”
Jeff Kane, M.D., lives in Nevada City. Visit his website at http:// www.bedsidemanifesto.com for more information.