I am always suspicious that those who design surveys are looking for particular, amusing answers.
So I am delighted that those who designed a gadget-conscious study for PC Tools chose to offer respondents some very cerebral choices.
Essentially, PC Tools was looking to see just how deeply the need to be plugged in online had penetrated human psyches. So they willfully probed into scenarios from which others might have shied, which, coincidentally made for a searing analysis into the state of the American nation.
Here is the state of society, neatly encapsulated in one single finding: more people believe that it is tolerable, nay, acceptable to be online during sex than during a wedding.
"Oh!" I hear you exclaim. "But I bet that people think that both behaviors are repulsive. Maybe just half a percent think the wedding is worse."
"Well, no," would be my hangdog reply. "There was actually a 16 percent difference between the acceptability of the two."
"Yeah, but I bet it was men who all thought that it was OK to be online during both," you will insist. "Women were appalled at the thought of either."
At this, I would have to tell you that society appears to be changing faster than you might have anticipated. Perhaps this is why Oprah is getting out of the game. For there was no particular difference between the sexes in their responses. Yes, a slightly greater percentage of women than men would bridle at the thought of being online and contactable during sex. But this was a mere 3 percent differential.
Interestingly, respondents found it slightly more difficult to imagine being plugged in during someone else's wedding than during their own. Perhaps a couple of them were those who saw the need to change their status update the minute they exchanged their vows.
I should say that those who think it's acceptable to be plugged in during sex are still very much in the minority overall, but as you look at these figures you can surely feel the direction of the breeze.
As well as the thorny areas of having sex, or promising to, there was one other subject that seemed to incite strong opinions: that of being online while you're eating. Americans seem more comfortable with the idea of being online during a family dinner at home than at a fancy restaurant. You might wonder that this is merely another statistic in the interment of the family concept.
However, Americans seem more concerned about status than anything else. How otherwise to explain that the respondents saw very little problem with being connected while dining at a casual restaurant? Indeed, there was a 26 percent gap between the approval of keeping your iPhone on at a fancy restaurant and a casual one. And, in this case, it was a majority of Americans who thought online activity was OK in a casual restaurant.
True, there seemed to be no specification as to whether a casual restaurant is merely McDonald's or also your local trattoria, sushi bar, and organic hamburger joint that might just serve horse. But the disparity was considerable.
This being a survey commissioned by PC Tools, there were some questions about whether people cared about cleaning out their registry and trying to keep their devices virus-free. I will try and define the mood of the general public concisely: it appears people would rather get a colonoscopy than clean out the innards of their laptops.
Let us rejoice, therefore, that not all of the things that we feared about humanity are coming true. We still have enormous respect for weddings.