Alison Taylor on relationships: Remote-control vibrators. Really?


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The Independent Online

Picture the scene: Manchester's Northern Quarter, 2010, a 'quirky' pub (think pickled eggs on tap and barman with Dalí moustache). I'm in town visiting my best friend Tamsin, who has recently upped sticks from London with her boyfriend, G, also a friend. We've not seen each other for a while so it's all exciting and drunken with noisy conversation interrupting and overflowing.

Apart from with G that is, who is mute and totally absorbed in his iPhone. Something about "nesting his apps". And so it is that a grown man of above-average intelligence is colour-coding his plethora of, mainly useless, apps. In 2010. With no shame.

Tamsin, who's practically a Luddite even now, looks at me, rolls her eyes and gives me an all-too-familiar yawn face. I look at G and suggest: "Maybe you could use that time you spend nesting your apps to pleasure your lady?".

He quips, "Is there an app for that?".

Which brings us nicely to the present day and an email that tantalised my inbox this very week. 'We-Vibe', the (apparently) number-one-selling couples vibrator brand (lol), has launched an app 'We Connect' to complement its appendage offering. According to the press release: "We-Vibe 4 Plus puts sexting to shame!" (no mean feat...). It "cranks things up a notch by providing couples the opportunity to control their partners' vibration across the room or from anywhere in the world." Oh good God. Seriously? I mean, I shouldn't scoff until I've tried it I suppose, but aren't there enough problems in the world without remote control-wielding maniacs setting off vibrators, willy nilly? It's the name, too: 'We-Vibe 4 Plus' – the love child of a crap club night and a tampon.

Now this is an extreme example, but it's not the only piece of tech desperately trying to bring us together physically, while glaringly missing the point that it's the presence of an app-enabled middleman that's creating distance in the first place. New Apple Watch, I'm looking at you with your gimmicky, vibrating 'digital touch' function. Then there's 'Cuddlr' – the latest hook-up app for when you just want a cuddle. I don't even know where to start with my disdain for this, but if you watch the trailer for it you'll see what I mean.

One of my male friend's take on this was: "Lawnmower Man's vision of cyber sex is coming into fruition." You might note that the Internet Movie Database classifies Lawnmower Man as horror, right? Yes, so just stop it, please.