Loving and Lusting in Tel Aviv: Sex and the Smartphone

Welcome to our series of articles on the singles scene in Tel Aviv. Life, love, and lust, all wrapped up in a Middle Eastern glow and penned by the wonderful Pixi…if you’re easily offended, look away now!

The death of romance…or is it simply evolving?

In a city as technologically savvy as Tel Aviv, we are unable to escape the constant buzz of email alerts, the vibrations of ‘silent’ phone rings, and the annoyingly familiar SMS beep that sounds like a dying robotic bird.

Smartphones. All the kids have them these days. In a paradoxically fascinating way they run around town in vintage outfits, paying homage to the Tel Aviv of days gone by – yet they are followed by these beeps and tweets wherever they go – an inherent need to stay connected to other people…just not physically.

So where does romance and sex fit into this communication revolution? Is it possible to feel the same stomach butterflies or even an actual orgasm without needing to see the person in the flesh? And what about misinterpretations, false assumptions and the potential embarrassment that can arise from such technology? As we are only at the beginning of the ‘new wave’ of loving in Tel Aviv, I am afraid I don’t have any concrete answers. Nonetheless, it is fun to see how hearts are built and broken through the press of a button.

Indeed, our vocabulary is now shaped by the very icons and apps we use to make life easier. There is no denying that this extends to our love life as well. “May I have this dance?” has been replaced by a one worded SMS of “?ערה(are you awake?), a flirtatious glance from across the room has become a “like” from across the web. Gone are the days where we needed to rely on good looks and good conversation to impress someone – we simply need to update our Facebook profile and tag ourselves in a fashionable location and the groundwork is done!

The problem arises when we face the inevitable transition from ‘virtual’ flirtation to real life communication. Finding the right balance between needing to stay connected and actually ‘connecting’ (in physical terms) can be tricky at times.

For me, the introduction of smart phones and social networking meant the death of mystery – an essential element to the beginning of any kind of sexual relationship. Forming an opinion about someone based on their smartphone activity is a dangerous trap – a trap that we will inevitably fall into, given the ease with which we can pry into someone’s life based on where they are and what they are tweeting about.

I personally do not own a smart phone. I am not against them and I have adjusted to a life where they surround me like a swarm of buzzing bees. I accept that they are here to stay and I eagerly await for an app that will show the type of underwear a man is wearing when he approaches you in a bar.

Nevertheless, I like to believe that I enjoy some level of excitement and the ‘unknown’ when it comes to meeting men for the first time. When they ask for my Facebook details, I offer them a beer and a 3am walk along Rothschild Blvd instead. I use the “people watching” angle to lure them in…..That’s people watching – not profile stalking, or Twitter following – watching real people, engaging in real activities.

While this excites me personally, I acknowledge that not all romance is lost on the smartphone. It is argued, and rightly so, that people can experience the same rush when that little SMS beep sounds. I’m sure that there are thousands of teenage girls out there whose hearts are fluttering upon seeing a “like” on their latest picture or comment….for that must mean something!

Moreover, the same romantic feelings can be experienced just as effectively through smartphones, for example, an embarrassing trip on the sidewalk or fumbling of words in front of the one you love is just as easily achieved through ‘autocorrect’  – so from that side of things, we have nothing to fear.

I continue to observe this evolution of romance without any real conclusions, except for this: It is comforting to see that the young people of Tel Aviv, with all their gadgets and gizmos, have not lost site of the real goal – to get the message across that they are single, hunting and ready for love…..or at least “like”.

Read more great stuff from Pixi here.

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