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I was merely going to retweet this funny little factoid from Social Rehab – a company with apps designed to get you to reduce your online dependence – my retweet was to include an inevitable quip.  Then I realized, I had far too many clever retorts to ever fit inside a single tweet.

Before I release my incredible capacity for sarcasm on the world, I must point out that the Social Rehab factoid is misleading and inaccurate (and dated).   Apparently, I’m late to this party.   The ‘statistic’ was a meme at least as far back as 2010 when a ‘recent survey […] uncovered the disturbing statistic‘ :



Interestingly, 6% of the people over 25 state that they think it’s OK to text during sex, too.


Survey Sloppiness

Of course this just reinforces the reasons for my personal crusade against junk science and junk statistics.   Notice how the headline morphed from the conclusion that  “10% of people under 25 think it’s OK to text during sex” to 10% actually engaging in texting, during sex.  Huge difference!   This is like taking the statistic that 127 million Americans favor abortion and writing a headline that 127 million Americans actually have abortions.   And, come to think of it,  I too am in favor of young people texting during sex – preferably with both hands.

With some additional scrutiny, you can find that the survey was not a Gallup poll or anything even close to scientific or credible –  but rather a survey (or polling widget) deployed by online consumer electronics site Retrevo.     No mention of how many people responded to the survey, whether they were unique responses, or whether they were having sex while they responded.

No matter, other news sites such as “Cosmopolitan (aka Cosmo Magazine)“, which loves sex surveys,  posted the headline:   “Ten Percent of People Do This During Sex!”    – astutely adding that a recent Stanford University study found that media multitaskers tend to underperform.  And in reporting on the survey, Advertising Age’s headline stated: Apparently That Text Can’t Wait — Not Even During Sex.

Online “Sex and Dating Expert”, blogger Julia Spira  – cites the survey while posing additional insightful questions:  “Would you answer the phone during sex” or “Do your friends really need a play-by-play, 160-character description while you are naked, under the sheets with your significant other?” – the latter being a somewhat more scientifically worded question that would elicit a more accurate response.


The Modern Sex Tape

Given that we live in a world where Reality TV and Sex Tapes are career-starters rather than career-enders, and where cellphones have more sophistication than Apollo navigation systems, why not survey or at least ponder the percentage of people who would:

  • regularly broadcast a video of themselves having sex.
  • use mobile video conferencing to have group sex.  (there’s got to be an app for that)
  • use live social networking and  “The Wisdom the Crowds” to get real-time lovemaking direction.  (‘87% of your twitter followers suggest moving your left hand 6 inches lower’)
  • use Google Glasses during sex to they can look at a remote partner, while getting physical with their local partner.   (the ultimate in cloud computing?)

This is all without mentioning technologies like Microsoft Kinect – which I’m sure standup comedians were all-over when the Kinect first came on the market.


The New Etiquette

Many of us remember when it used to be considered rude to answer the phone while having a conversation with someone (in person) – let alone answering emails or texts during a conversation.  Today, the debate is whether it is considered rude to respond to texts during sex.   But that is the etiquette to be decided between intimate partners.  What about us, the third parties?

What is the etiquette, or appropriated response when a friend (or acquaintance, or family member!) …

  • texts us while they are having sex?    (my initial response of “don’t let me distract you” would seem inappropriate, since they texted me).
  • turns on the video …
  • or sends me the friend request  [“so-and-so invites you to join this session …”]

I’d find it much less disturbing if someone I knew communicated during sex, than if they communicated while they were on the toilet.    I’m just not sure I could explain why.


The Upside of  Technology

A pet peeve of mine is the frequency and predictability of the pundits and Luddites  (and other oxymorons) declarations that new technology is risky, bad, and contributing to the decline of society.  We forget how shrill they were in predicting all the con-men and fraudsters that would inhabit eBay, Amazon and other eCommerce sites, or how email, blogging and online news were going to make us all illiterate, misinformed drones.   The current vogue of journalism is in writing about the potentially disastrous breaches of privacy, identity theft and cyber-bullying.   Don’t the doomsayers realize that technology is also empowering, and often the solution to these problems? For instance:

  • If one is having sex with an enviable partner – who better  to text (or broadcast) the session than your old nemesis –  the high school cyberbully?
  • If one is paranoid about privacy, all it might take is one single photo, while on the commode, to forever eliminate (sic) any further interest in your private life.


Social Media strategists and philosophers are going to have to ponder these difficult new questions enabled by the opening of the Pandora’s box of the social and mobile technologies.  While we continue to be shocked, amused and bemused by the statistics and new behaviors spawned by technology – it is the new normal.   And by the time the rules for social etiquette catch up, new technology and a new generation, will take it up a notch.   Happy texting!






Written by CJ Cornell

CJ Cornell

Serial Entrepreneur. University Professor. Software Engineer. Media Executive. Venture Capitalist. Researcher. Marketer. Advisor. Mentor. Author and Speaker. Founded or co-founded nearly a dozen companies in software, digital media and television.

For the past few years I’ve been Co-Director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship and Professor of Digital Media & Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University, and the university’s first full time Entrepreneur-in-Residence. Currently Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at New York Institute of Technology and Managing Director at Propel Ventures LLC.


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