Are we erasing humanity? I hope not.

Image via iStockphoto 4I wrote this blog post last year when I watched the three time Oscar nominated film Her. Her is a film in which Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore, a shy and lonely man who, due to his impending divorce, purchases a computer with a  talking operating system (OS). The OS is equipped with artificial intelligence, designed to progressively become more human-like. As time progresses Theodore becomes mesmerized by the OS’s ability (who he has taken to calling Samantha) to mimic human behavior, to the point where the two have deep discussions about life. He and Samantha fall in love.  As the relationship progresses, both he and Samantha develop feelings beyond primary emotions—they experience jealousy, and Theodore at one point even becomes upset when she goes “offline” with another OS to be upgraded. Upon Samantha’s return, he learns that she is not only the OS for thousands of other people, but has also fallen in love with hundreds of other humans. In the end, she leaves him to do her own thing in cyberspace. Lonely and sad again, Theodore goes to his friend Amy’s apartment to talk to her and finds that she, too is upset as her own OS has left her as well. The movie ends with the two sitting together on the roof of the apartment, smiling at each other, getting closer, and admiring the city lights.

My curiosity with this movie was to see how the director would address this need for people today to replace real human interactions with technology. Like everything else, technology hast both positive and negative effects. Technology makes our lives easier—more effective and convenient—that much is true. But I believe it has no place in replacing human interactions and that’s where our society will be headed if we don’t start making changes real soon.

Her’s premise is reminiscent of Internet dating. There are certainly some success stories (I personally know three couples who met on dating websites and ended up happily married), but most of the time, it seems like a disaster. Everyone I personally know who posted Internet dating profiles told me stories that were sad and sometimes astonishing. Throughout the years, I have interviewed many people who were involved with Internet dating, and conducted an informal online survey regarding participant satisfaction with the medium. The results I gathered indicated that, overall, 85 percent of the people participating in online dating were dissatisfied, 10 percent were somewhat satisfied, and 3 percent were satisfied or happy with their experience. Though this survey was informal, the results are still pretty telling.

I will state right now that I never particularly cared for Internet dating. I feel it erases humanity. I’m all for face-to-face contact. We live in an age where people have forgotten how to relate to each other, especially with this juvenile, texting crap. Everyone is wired to their iPhone®, Android®, or other device and it seems they can’t go anywhere without constantly peeking at it during meals, personal conversations, even while out on dates. So annoying! People are unable to resist checking in at the trendiest locations in town, or looking at their device to see if any new email has arrived or if anyone has responded to their Facebook® or Twitter® status. People are personally disconnected despite being electronically over-connected. It also seems as if there are more posers, players, and liars.  People on dating sites lie about everything: age, weight, location, even their profession. Or they massage it to make themselves look better. People also lie about their life in an attempt to create a certain impression. They’re all creating a world behind that computer wall where they have the original starring role and are mostly a façade.  There are even professional profile writers (like Joaquin Phoenix’s Theodore) who will make sure that your profile makes you sound like someone everyone will want to meet.

I hear complaints from some women in my talks that men they are interested in no longer call—they text. The men also have their own complaints about finding it hard to get some women to commit to a real conversation. It can be challenging. It’s all about emails or texting. Then there are the people who say they’re “too busy”, so texting is convenient. If you’re answering the text then you’re not that busy and it doesn’t take too many seconds to pick up the phone to make a phone call and leave a message. Later on, the person on the other end can return the call. Since when have we become a society that can’t wait a few hours to have a phone call returned? What’s up with all this anxiety that needs an immediate response? In the olden days, people would leave a message at the person’s home answering machine and later in the day when that person arrived home, that’s when all the phone calls were returned.

Let’s rediscover the beauty of human interactions; let’s stop with all this fakery and hiding behind a technological wall. Let’s get back to basics and re-start truly reconnecting and behaving like the wonderful human beings we are supposed to be. Eye contact, face-to-face dialogue, exchanging of ideas in real time—these are all supremely important to human connections. Let’s nurture that and translate it into our romantic lives. I like to think that when Amy laid her head on Theodore’s shoulder in the film as they both admired the view, they finally realized that they were happy that they found each other: two human beings.



Commitment is hard for people who watch TV romances

By: Megan Gannon, News Editor
Published: 09/18/2012 09:20 on LiveScience

Belief in TV Romances May Hurt Your Love Life

Are you a sucker for romantic shows and movies like “Pretty Woman?” Turns out, the more people believe in these unrealistic portrayals of romance on TV, the less likely they are to be committed to their real-life relationships, a new study finds. However, those who fell for TV love stories reported being no less satisfied in love than their more skeptical peers.

In the study, 392 married individuals were surveyed about their relationship satisfaction, expectations and commitment, as well as their belief in television portrayals of romantic relationships and viewing frequency. For instance, to indicate their acceptance of fictional romances as truths, participants rated their agreement with statements such as: “Television presents romantic relationships as they really are in life;” and “Television helps me understand what I can expect from my romantic relationships.”

Romantic TV shows included: reality shows like “The Hills” and “Bachelor;” soap operas such as “Days of Our Lives;” romantically themed movies such as “Pretty Woman,” “The Notebook” and “Sleepless in Seattle.”

The participants who had higher belief in TV romance were less likely to be committed to their current relationships and more likely to be drawn to alternatives to their current partner, the research found. (Alternatives included a different partner or being single.)

And the more the participants believed in the TV romance, the higher they rated both expected and actual relationship “costs”, which included their loss of personal freedom and time as well as their partner’s unattractive qualities. But that finding might help explain why greater belief in TV romances did not also predict lower relationship satisfaction.

“People with higher belief in television portrayals might see their relationships as more costly than their lower belief counterparts do, but because they also expected higher costs they are no less satisfied,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

The study was published last week in the journal Mass Communication and Society. Its authorJeremy Osborn, of Albion College in Michigan, said it could shed light on how TV influences our relationships in ways we hadn’t thought it could.

“We live in a society that perpetually immerses itself in media images from both TV and the Web, but most people have no sense of the ways those images are impacting them,” Osborn said in a statement. “The rate of marriage failure in the U. S. is not dropping, and it is important for people to have a sense of what factors are leading to the failure of so many relationships.”


The Golden Gate Bridge turns 75 this week end!

Happy Birthday! She turns 75 years old this week end!

I wanted to take a moment and pay tribute to one of the most recognized icon in my adopted city today. The City by the Bay will be celebrating its famous icon’s birthday this week end: the Golden Gate Bridge. To me, one of the most romantics stroll you can take after the sun sets and the city lights come out.

Why is it named Golden Gate if it’s not painted in gold colors? Golden Gate Strait is the entrance to the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. It is generally accepted that the strait was named “Chrysopylae”, or Golden Gate, by John C. Fremont, Captain, topographical Engineers of the U.S. Army circa 1846.  It reminded him of a harbor in Instanbul named Chrysoceras or Golden Horn.

This famous bridge took just over four years to build. Construction commenced on January 5, 1933. Pedestrian Day was held on May 27, 1937 and opened to vehicular traffic on May 28, 1937. On opening day, the San Francisco Chronicle referred to the Golden Gate Bridge as “thirty-five million dollar steel harp”!

The color of the Golden Gate Bridge is orange vermilion, deemed International Orange. Irving Morrow, the consulting architect at the time choose this particular warm color because it blends well with the span’s natural setting and it is distinct from the cool colors of the sky and sea, besides providing enhanced visibility for the passing ships. If the U.S. Navy had its way, the Bridge would be painted in black and yellow stripes to assure greater visibility for the passing ships.

The bridge is constantly painted (read touched up) to protect it from the high salt content in the air which rusts and corrodes the steel components.

Now, come on over and celebrate! Bring your sweety and take a romantic stroll on the bridge. On Sunday at 9:30pm to 9:50pm, she’ll be putting her best colors on display for you. It’s going to be explosive …. literally!

Online dating: the real science of dating speaks

Cupid’s Arrow Turns Digital

Online Dating Growing in Popularity and Acceptance,  But Matching Methods Lack Independent Validation, Finds Review

Online dating has not only shed its stigma, it has surpassed all forms of matchmaking in the United States other than meeting through friends, according to a new analysis of research on the burgeoning relationship industry.

The digital revolution in romance is a boon to lonely-hearters, providing greater and more convenient access to potential partners, reports the team of psychological scientists who prepared the review. But the industry’s claims to offering a “science-based” approach with sophisticated algorithm-based matching have not been substantiated by independent researchers and, therefore, “should be given little credence,” they conclude.    read more here  University of Rochester research

We should all strive to find a compassionate and kind life partner!

Newlywed in SoMa, got married three months ago but for the past four weeks her new husband stopped being “romantic” with her and when she asked for “romance”, his answers was always the same – “working hard and very tired”.  Two days ago, after a heated argument she pressed him to answer why he didn’t feel like making love to her anymore and he finally told her the truth – he said he was no longer attracted to her because she had cut her hair. To him her haircut was too short, ugly and the short hair made her unattractive to him. He went further and told her he could not even get aroused by her.

“Gasp”. Really? He cannot get aroused because of your haircut? I don’t even know what to say. The only thing that comes to my mind is one of my girlfriends who had cancer. When she was losing some of her hair, as she took her showers, her fiancée would get into the shower and wash whatever hair she had left. I remember once, while visiting her at her house, she was seating in a chair, while her fiancée would gently comb her almost non-existent hair; stroking it, telling ME, how beautiful she was and in spite of the ravages the chemicals were doing to her body and hair, she was still the most beautiful woman he ever saw. He was kind, attentive, sweet, compassionate and very loving. At that moment I silently prayed to be so lucky and find a man like that. That’s the vision that kept coming to my head as I was reading your lengthy email – of that sweet man kissing my friend’s head while combing whatever hair she had left in her head.

I am sorry Newlywed but apparently you didn’t marry this kind of man and a man who’s going to tell you that he’s no longer turned on by you because of your hair do – cruelty aside – then he doesn’t love you, he is incapable of love. God forbid one day you should need someone that sacrificial, compassionate and loving; you will be in trouble because you didn’t marry that kind of man.

You should tell him my girlfriend’s story and I think you ought to think if you made a mistake marrying this guy. I wonder if anyone in your family or one of your friends ever warned you about him. Can you imagine if you fall sick someday? We don’t really look good when we are seriously ill and if he’s cruel, withholding affection because of a stupid haircut, can you imagine when you will be at your lowest and ill? If you are not pregnant, were I in your shoes, I would seriously consider repairing this mistake. A guy who says that and mean it, there is something wrong with this dude.