What do People Prefer to Sex? According to Tech Companies, Everything!

By  |  Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 7:39 pm

This week, GPS software maker TeleNav revealed the results of a survey it commissioned about Americans and their phones. The tidbit it chose to highlight: one-third of us would rather give up sex than do without our phones. The news didn’t shock me a bit. Tech companies love to commission surveys that give Americans (and Canadians, and Britons) a Faustian choice between giving up sex and giving up some gadget. (Or, sometimes, giving up sex to get a gadget. Or giving up sex to avoid something, such as PowerPoint.)

They keep on conducting these surveys, and news sites and blogs keep reporting the results as news. And somehow, the news is always that people would rather give up sex than give up gadgets–even when the surveys show that most people prefer sex to gadgets.

Let’s review the evidence:

August 2011: TeleNav commissions a survey that shows that 33 percent of Americans would rather give up sex than give up their phones.

Also this month: Digital textbook company Kno commissions a survey that shows that a quarter of college students would give up sex to avoid lugging heavy textbooks.

Last month: Sliderocket commissions a survey that shows that almost a quarter of Americans would rather give up sex than sit through a PowerPoint presentation.

August 2010: British online casino Inter Casino commissions a survey that shows that more Britons would give up sex than would give up Facebook to win a jackpot.

August 2010: Yahoo commissions a survey that shows that one-third of our neighbors to the north would rather give up sex than give up the Internet.

May 2010: The World Wildlife Federation commissions a survey that shows that only 2 percent of Canadians would rather give up sex than give up their cars. Did that lead to newspaper headlines along the lines of “98 Percent of Canadians Would Give Up Their Cars Before Giving Up Sex?” Of course not!

February 2010: This has nothing to do with technology, but Maple Leaf Foods commissions a survey that shows that 43 percent pf Canadians would rather give up sex than give up bacon.

October 2009: Samsung commissions a survey that shows that 31 percent of Bostonians would rather give up sex than give up their phones.

February 2009: Marrakesh Records commissions a survey that (at least as interpreted by one story) shows that the majority of British teens would rather give up sex than go without music for one week–but the music must be in the form of free downloads.

December 2008: Intel commissions a survey that shows that 46 percent of women would rather give up sex than give up the Internet.

February 2008: British electronics retailer comet commissions a survey that shows that nearly half of British men would give up sex in return for a 50-inch plasma TV.

June 2007: British phone retailer Carphone Warehouse commissions a survey that shows that a majority of Britons between the age of 16 and 24 would rather give up sex for a month than give up their mobile phones.

August 2004: Philips Electronics commissions a survey that shows that 21 percent of Americans would give up sex for a month to get a home theater.

September 1994: Very few Americans are on the Internet or own mobile phones. So Magnavox commissions a survey that shows that 18 percent of women and 9 percent of men would rather give up sex than give up their TV remote for one week.

Way back in August 1984: In a pioneering study, Forum magazine commissions a survey that shows that 73 percent of Americans would give up sex for a year in return for one million dollars. (They coulda spent the million on a Commodore 64, a Colecovision, Walkman, a CB radio, a really fancy turntable…)

So what can we learn from all this research?

Sex sells. Want to get your company’s name into print? Easy. Conduct a survey asking people to choose between your product category and sex. Done!

Summer is the slowest season for news. And therefore the easiest season to make news with news that isn’t news. More than half of these surveys were released in July or August.

A certain percentage of survey respondents will say they prefer anything to sex. I haven’t seen any stories claiming that Americans would give up sex before they’d give up Bluetooth mice. Or USB drives. Or defragging utilities. But I’ll bet there are makers of Bluetooth mice, USB drives, and defraggers fielding surveys even as we speak.

But it doesn’t really matter what the results are. As little as two percent of respondents can choose technology over sex.  The headlines will still be about people spurning sex for technology.

A surprising number of people are apparently willing to answer really silly, really personal questions. I wonder if the best response to all of these questions–”None of your freaking business, jerkface”–is ever one of the options?

 
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  1. Forrest Says:

    Seems to me a lot of people really are giving up sex for technology, not entirely or even on purpose, but I know that a lot of women find it a big turn-off when their partner is more into the TV, PC, or really anything else than her. And how many men wait patently hoping their partner will be in the mood, just to have them too involved with facebook or farmville, or read something online that got them too upset to even think about sex.

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