Sleeping with the (Electronic) Enemy

Just how technology-addicted is our society?

An amazing 87% of professionals bring their PDA into the bedroom and, in a potentially related finding, more than one-third of folks surveyed (35%) say if forced to choose, they’d pick their PDA over their spouse! The vast majority of people (84%) also say they check their PDA’s just before going to bed and as soon as they wake up, 85% say they sneak a peak at their PDA in the middle of the night and 80% say they check their email before morning coffee.

So if email is now an ingested part of our DNA, why do we suck at it so badly?

Let’s start from the beginning…

Hey- (the most common way to start off an email in letter without being too uptight)

While I was looking for something else to do at work besides, well, work, I started thinking about what my weekdays were like before email came into my life.

Communications were certainly different back in the Flintstone age that was 1997. I actually used to call my girlfriends at their jobs to serve as a primary distraction from a day moving as slow as Leo’s death in Titanic (sink already!). At the time nothing beat the rebelliousness of the company having to pick up the tab for my phone calls. Since then, reaching out and touching someone from 9-to-5 is as antiquated an idea as day trading.

With a new form of communications on the scene (or in this case, on the screen) it’s time to establish some basic rules that are currently broken every meg-to-meg millisecond.

Rule #1: The reckless use of combining colons and paraenthesis 🙂 Ah, the ubiquitous email smiley face. He has his benefits, but the problem with “:)” is that too many men are either:

a. Using him in emails to other men (a heterosexual faux pas).

b. Using him as a conversational safety net in getting away with making any lewd comment to women, no matter how risqué.

To put Mr. Smiley Face into a realty-based context, I’ve tried picturing myself out to dinner with a girl on a first date. The conversation is going well until I utter a slightly naughty frat-boy joke in response to a potentially sexual, but meant-to-be-innocuous comment on her part. I proceed to cover up the mischievous comment to ensure she isn’t offended by sporting a ridiculous and self-deprecating 3-mile grin like something off of a “Have a Nice Day T-shirt.”

As asinine as it looks in person, the smiley face — whether appearing live or on a computer screen — actually can help save you from yourself. Besides, wouldn’t it suck to ruin a perfectly good courtship over the misinterpreted tone and context of the word “anal”?


Rule #2: Time is your friend. Patience is a virtue.

“So how long do I wait to call?” Jon Favreau (Mikey) asks after obtaining the number of a beautiful baby (the vastly underrated Brooke Langdon) in the classic “how-to” movie Swingers. Mikey was told the industry standard was to wait two days. But if in the same situation, how long would Mikey have to wait to email? Or respond to one?

A majority of men I’ve worked with (and therefore study for these columns) feel the need to respond as if a record of some kind is there to be broken (call it “premature replyulation”). It is as if email is the basis for a human version of a Pavlov experiment.

Let’s say in the courting stage that an email, not a phone call, is sent to the prospective girl. Within minutes, hours or days a response is sent back from the prospect. The time elapsed between correspondence depends on the hard-to-get factor.

The ding and envelope icon indicates a new email has arrived. On cue, the letter is clicked on as fast as a five-year old opening a present on Christmas morning. Being slaves to instant gratification, the next inclination is to respond immediately because writing any email is a hell of a lot more exciting than that weekly report.

Unfortunately, an instant messenger-esque response may result in the following:

a) The perception that your job is not important enough (and therefore not very lucrative) to keep you from responding faster than it takes for the Mets to blow a division lead in September. One or two instances of instant feedback may be considered anomalies, but a pattern may illustrate to a woman that your existence is limited to taking up space and collecting a pittance of a paycheck that accompanies a dead-end job.

b) The one-time perception of being the fresh, new, mysterious guy will cease to exist. Women love challenges, so the moment you appear as accessible as Jerry’s apartment was to Kramer, the mystery—plus all of the perks that accompany such a picture in her mind—are gone. And even if the attraction is still there, a level of expectation is created that you are available upon demand to read any vapid thought that goes through her mind at any moment of the day. Congratulations!

Finally, be aware of WHEN you may be sending emails to a girl in general. Anything before 9:00 AM and after 9:00 PM portrays you as someone who is spending a little too much time visiting the kinds of sites Pete Townshend seems to enjoy


Rule #3: Do not contribute to the fall of capitalism.

The American public wonders aloud why the economy isn’t performing better than it is. Based on my research, the reasons aren’t the housing bubble blowing its load, but because too many damn people are emailing each other eVites, chain letters and fart jokes.

For example:


It’s so cold out today. I don’t even

feel like being here. What are you doing?

Oh, have you seen this?

(Insert link to joke here) LOL funny!!!


An email such as the one above could lead to five hours of mindless banter that will result in getting exactly nothing done at work. And since everyone from CEOs to stock analysts to salespeople are emailing their friends all day by writing letters about nothing, capitalism as a whole is less productive than ever. The technology that was supposed to make workers faster and more efficient has instead made us only faster in the typing words-per-minute department. Most of all, it has exposed our inability to write a grammatically coherent sentence or spell the simplest of words.

In dating, perception in the early stages is everything. And nothing makes a person look more like the proud owner of a GED than spelling mistakes and typos.

Example #2:

Hey Jenny-

I had a grate time last night. Your really intresting and I’d like to see you again some time if your busy itinarary allows it 😉

Peace Out,


You may be a Stevens Tech honor student, but ignoring spell check can be as self-destructive as rambling about an ex-girlfriend before reaching the entrée.

So before you leave to email this story to your friends, remember the etiquette of email outlined in this story.

Now please, for the good of the country, get back to work.