msnbc.com
Helen Popkin
By
msnbc.com
updated 9/26/2007 7:30:08 PM ET 2007-09-26T23:30:08

So here’s a story you’ve heard before, or at least some version of it. If it didn’t happen to a friend, you may very well be the protagonist of such a tale. This one I’m fixin’ to share comes straight from the mouth of a formerly-Internet naïve friend who, just a few years ago while closing in on the ripe age of 30, lost her boyfriend-since-high school to the wicked world of Internet Sex.

FYI: I’m not talking about me. Fortunately I’m not so unfortunate to have the same loser boyfriend from high school. Also, my mind’s been in the gutter way too long to not have heard this train coming down the track.

So, there's this couple from high school and they go to college and then on to grownup working life together and monogamously. As is easily predicted, things got super dull in the bedroom. And the living room. And the kitchen. And anywhere else they tried to zest up their premarital bliss.

Instead of doing the safe and sane thing by breaking up and moving on, The Boyfriend moved to the burgeoning world of Online Porn, dragging his Good, Giving and Game Girlfriend (as insightful, hilarious sex advice columnist Dan Savage would describe her) with him. After awhile, however, the GGG Girlfriend wasn’t enough. On his own, the Boyfriend discovered chat rooms, which then progressed to video chat rooms.

Video chat rooms then progressed to the GGG Girlfriends 28th birthday which she spent alone in their bedroom while the Boyfriend (per usual by now) sat up all night in the living room in front of the monitor with his pants around his ankles, if you catch my meaning.

Did I mention that the GGG Girlfriend was still pretty much as cute and pleasant as she was in high school when they first hooked up? Not that it matters, as is totally explained in the recently-released poll results from advertising agency JWT which states that Americans are giving up friends and sex for Web life.

While anecdotal evidence like my poor GGG Girlfriend and The Boyfriend abound, you kind of have to wonder at the reliability of such a poll. According to the results, “More than a quarter of respondents — or 28 percent — admitted spending less time socializing face-to-face with peers because of the amount of time they spend online.” However, that doesn’t take into account hanging out with friends online through such exceedingly popular social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook.

More importantly, however, it doesn’t seem to define Sex, and as Bill Clinton taught us, Sex means different things to different people. Internet Sex, via downloadable porn, chat rooms, or Second Life, may be the closest the phobic and shy ever get to the so-called “real thing.” Meanwhile others, like the aforementioned Boyfriend, find the virtual version of “It” more fulfilling that the real thing waiting in the bedroom.

Other seemingly-important information imparted by this survey states that out of the 1,011 adults polled regarding the amount of time they would feel OK without going on the Web, 15 percent said they could do it for just a day or less. Twenty-one  percent said a couple of days and another 19 percent said a few days. Only a fifth of those who took part in an online survey said they could go for a week. (Probably the same people still on AOL dialup, LOL).

That’s all very well and interesting, I suppose. But despite the suspect sciencey-goodness of such a poll, didn’t you pretty much know in your heart that the above was true? We love the Internet. Just like we used to love TV … long, long ago, before the Internet started making TV obsolete.

Meanwhile, if you’ve got the patience to search through microfiche, no doubt you’ll dig up an old alarmist news report from some other sort of suspect poll that states something along the lines of people giving up real friends and sex for “I Love Lucy.” You’ll probably also find such overarching statements about giving up same for marijuana. Or jazz. Or fire.

Whatever version of society-destroying evil you happened to scan on the microfiche viewer, there’d be an element of truth. Because, hey, all the above, like the Internet, are distractions. And as humans, we actively seek out distractions. Because when life isn’t painful, it’s often painfully dull.

So viva la distraction, or whatever. Just like the Boyfriend of GGG Girlfriend would’ have been a perverted jerk even if Al Gore never invented binary code or whatever. If it wasn’t the Internet, we’d find some other reason to avoid our friends and sex.  

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