Your Marriage and the Internet, the Book That Says Your Spouse Is Less Thrilling Than a Tractor Pull
Your Marriage and the Internet
Authors: Thomas Whiteman, Ph.D, and Randy Petersen
Publisher: Fleming H. Revell
Discovered at: Community Thrift, S.F.
The Cover Promises: Your monitor is also your microwave.
"Porn is an easy substitute for real relationships - especially for those men who have difficulty expressing themselves. One of the things wives can do in these cases is not necessarily make sex better but make it easier, provide a sense of security and lowered expectations." (page 76)
"We can embrace our marriage, even though it's not as thrilling as that tractor pull on ESPN2." (page 103)
"Imagine that a man finds a baby bear in the woods," the authors of Your Marriage and the Internet instruct. Obligingly, you, a modern reader, type "baby bear in the woods" into Google image search. Then you press on.
"It's so cute that he has to bring it home to his family," they write. "The little bear becomes a household pet, roughhousing with the children and licking their faces. It's part of the family."
That sounds darling, you think. Family. You touch the page, trying to find the "Like" button.
"But the bear grows," the authors insist, "and its animal instincts grow too. It begins winning those playful bouts, pinning the family members, and hurting them. It swipes a claw at one of the kids and bites the hand of another, drawing blood."
You return to Google and type "bear in house." The results are disturbing.
Pained, you will yourself back to the book.
"Soon the family has a difficult decision to make . . . At the very least, they have to leash it, perhaps cage it. It might be wisest to get rid of it entirely. The Internet is that bear."With that, you feel the sting of truth. How could you have been so careless? You, too, found the Internet in the woods, brought it into your home, and let it lick your children.
Or, worse, you might have masturbated to a bear.
So goes Whiteman and Petersen's Your Marriage and the Internet, our foremost authority on how the online world is exactly like a bear that costs you $40 a month and remembers your passwords (if your passwords are all "hunny," the only word bears can write.) From the long-gone vantage point of 2002, the authors survey the crumbling state of America's marriage and declare -- as such authors have throughout history -- that the fault must lie in whatever new thing exists that those authors didn't grow up with.
Ergo the internet, with its pornography and chat rooms and fantasy football leagues, all of which leads the authors to argue that women should make sex "easier" for husbands who no longer know how to do it without sitting in an ergonomic office chair.
They warn at length that men are in danger of losing themselves to porn:
"He begins to see every woman in two dimensions, measuring her, stripping her, evaluating her -- what would she look like on that screen?"
In truth, that does sound tragic: This guy eyes women and thinks, "Man, if I could only pay a fee online and watch another man hit that!"
Is the following racist, anti-vegetable, or just deeply stupid?
"Pornography is candy -- sweet, pleasurable for a moment, but it can also make you sick. It can also spoil your appetite. Who would choose broccoli over chocolate?"
Women, the authors state, are more susceptible to chat rooms than pornographic images. Whiteman and Petersen warn that your computer is a "reltionship machine," which they demonstrate through made-up chatroom transcripts between people calling themselves "Sega222" and "Gollum," a username I refuse to believe made it to '02 without having previously been registered.
They crib from Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus the idea that men "withdraw" to their caves and warn, "Now if the man's cave is equipped with a computer and a good modem, he could stay in there forever." (Or at least until he gets a taste of that underground wifi connection.)
In short, they emphasize that the internet is a useful tool for communication and information gathering, but that it will likely suck you in, scrape you out, and leave you bereft of love for your family. (At no point do they propose that your family should become more interesting.) They demonstrate this in many miserable anecdotes: Of husbands caught masturbating by children; of wives staying up all night in chat rooms; of predators who want to turn "innocent conversation into smut."
As a public service, I've boiled down this sad exchange -- and pretty much the entirety of the book -- into something internet addicts can follow:
"In 1997 one study found thirty-four thousand pornographic web sites. We expect that number has increased significantly."
Questions from a test titled "Are You Addicted to the Internet?"
Do you find yourself obsessed with thoughts about how you can get online or when you will have the next opportunity to get online?
Do you find yourself becoming aroused online?
Do you argue with your spouse or other family members about time on the Internet?
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