How To Do Life

Fresh ideas about career and personal issues

Give Up Your Computer or Your Romantic Partner?

As computers and phones improve, should we spend less time with people?

I like to think that humankind is evolving for the better but computers are unquestionably getting better faster. Have we reached the point at which many people would rather give up their romantic partner than their computer or their miniature version, the smartphone?

Play with me here. Look at these reasons to prefer a romantic partner, then the reasons to prefer your computer, and then decide which you’d rather give up. That might encourage you to change something about your relationship—or spend more time staring at screens.

Reasons to prefer your romantic partner

Sex and affection.  It feels better to wake up next to your lover than to your Android.

Better conversation. Computerized conversationalists have failed except in movies like Her. Imagine a computer’s response to “How was your day?” let alone “What’s the meaning of life?”

That feeling. In a decent relationship, just being in the same room feels good. Some of that may be endorphinic but also an awareness of your history together. You can’t say that about your iPhone, let alone your Dell Optiplex 9020.

Other: Is there another reason you’d prefer your romantic partner to computer access?

Reasons to prefer your computer

Compliance.  Your computer will comply with all your requests. I don’t know many romantic partners that will. That even extends to a form of sex. YouPorn will gladly, on command, for free, indulge a wide range of fantasies.

Knowledge. Your computer knows more than does any person. A Google search instantly serves up authoritative information, images, audio, and video on anything from psychology to epistemology, Bach to Beyonce, fashion to farting,

Price.  Sure, computers occasionally need service but far less than do humans. We require regular care and feeding and maybe even glittery items.

Other: Is there another reason you’d prefer your computer to your romantic partner? 

Now you decide

Most people opt for a balance of human and siliconic interaction but for purposes of this exercise, if someone put a gun to your head and made you give up your romantic partner or your computer, which would you choose?

Does that make you want to do something to improve your relationship so you’ll more often choose your partner? Or has your computer irrevocably—as it did in chess[1]—won.

Wikipedia’s profile of Marty Nemko tells you more than necessary.

 

[1] Since then, computerized chess software has grown much more powerful. The current strongest chess engine in the world is Stockfish 5, which can be downloaded for free: http://stockfishchess.org/

Marty Nemko is a career and personal coach based in Oakland, Ca. and the author of 7 books. 
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