Rohit's Realm

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August 05, 2007

Digital Marriage Therapy

Though I am not one to generally spend much time or energy with the Wall Street Journal's Pursuits section (my preference runs to the Editorials), every once in a while, a gem will surface that is not only worth reading, but also worth blogging about; this weekend's edition presented such an opportunity with 'Til Tech Do Us Part, an article on the problems of marriage in the digital age. Now, regular readers will likely recall that about a year ago, I published a manifesto that purported to mitigate the hassles of break-ups in the digital age,1 but that analysis tends to breakdown when one cannot soundly assume the relationship will end in catastrophic failure, i.e., the objective is to remain in said relationship (understandably, this is a distinctly foreign concept for yours truly). In any case, though I may know next to nothing about how (or why) one might sustain any such entanglement beyond a couple months, let alone 'til death do us part, technology remains my forté: allow me to impart my wisdom.


Before even delving into hardcore issues like music libraries and blogs, let's dispense with the nonsense. The aforementioned article notes that a lot of couples these days struggle with the conflicts arising from shared e-mail and computer accounts. What the fuck? Why the hell would anyone feel compelled to share e-mail or login accounts? That's like sharing a toothbrush. Do these same people share underwear too? Or deodorant? I mean, seriously: just because you share a bed and occasionally, bodily fluids, does not mean you have to share everything. There are things in this life that are so intrinsically personal—fundamentally individual—that they have no place being shared—ever; and to that list, which once included toothbrushes, underwear, and deodorant (I would add razors too, but I've experienced friction because of this before), we must add e-mail and desktop preferences. Sure, you can wear my t-shirts if you want, and even use my comb/hair brush if you must (though I won't be happy about it), but stay the fuck away from my keyboard shortcuts and desktop icons!

The arguments I have heard advanced in support of so-called joint e-mail addresses are just as idiotic as the people advancing them. Some argue that a joint e-mail gives credence to the couple's position as a unit (whatever that means); others see shared e-mail as a gesture of trust and transparency, or a means of ensuring fidelity without resorting to pretexting; and finally, there's the not-entirely-ridiculous need to have household e-mails (e.g., children's schools, etc.) arrive in both parties' mail boxes.

As for the first and third problems, they are easily resolved with a singular solution: e-mail lists, morons! With two quick clicks on Google or Yahoo, one can create an e-mail list (e.g., that will both serve as a central point for household e-mails and ensure unity in the online sphere (again, why that is important is anyone's guess).

As for the second problem (fidelity), let me just say this: if you need to share an e-mail account to ensure your spouse won't cheat on you, your marriage is already fucked; and if you think sharing a single address will stop your spouse from creating a separate e-mail to cheat on you, you are additionally an idiot. You can trust your spouse, or not (I would encourage the former before tying the knot, and more importantly, your finances, with someone, but that's just me), but there's absolutely nothing to be gained from sharing an e-mail account, all delusions aside. In this case, the computer scientists really did get it right: segmentation is the only way! Hell, all my kids are getting an Apple Macbook Pro (or equivalent) at birth, so I figure my wife can have one too (she'll have to pay for it herself, though).

Sharing is Caring

Now onto the stuff that should be shared, e.g., music, photos, movies, etc. Again, instead of wasting time bickering foolishly, intelligent couples have an easy solution right in front of them: build a media server, i.e., a central machine that stores all digital media. In addition to making the perennial problem of backups simpler, now both parties can upload all their digital stuff to that machine, and then, pull down only stuff they want to their own machines. Bam! For less than a grand, all the bickering is gone (assuming equitable disk quotas, of course).

As for blogs, I am a strong supporter of the his, hers, and ours concept (adjust accordingly depending on your sexual preference). One blog so I can talk shit about her (i.e., Rohit's Realm, circa 2013), one blog so she can talk shit about me, and one blog so we can both talk shit about our kids. Everyone wins... until my kids betray me online and I am forced to hack their sites. Sorry kids: All Your Base Are Belong to Us.2

You know, maybe I should give up all this corporate shit and just become a digital marriage counselor. I could make millions! Maybe if the life coaching business Audrey and I are putting together doesn't pan out, I'll consider it.

1 It has worked wonders for me, but I doubt most of you self-described hopeless romantics out there have the wherewithal necessary to implement it with any rigor.
2 Non-techies, see, e.g., Wikipedia.


Rohit, I used your razor once, four years ago. Let it go!

And for future reference, the way to a woman's heart is not by creating her an account on a unix machine that she can't use and that sounds like a freakin' jet engine. How you haven't gone deaf with all those damn computers in your room is a mystery to me.

Lisa, it'll be at least a decade before I can forgive you for the razor. Sorry.

And, as for the computer, you wanted to use the Internet, and I gave you access. It's so not my fault that you couldn't use it.

What with the prospect of buying your own computer, having a blog dedicated to talking shit about you, and decade-long vendettas over razor use, I'm shocked you aren't being flooded by marriage proposals each day.

Then again, if you could make it so my iPhoto didn't freeze all the time, I'd consider marrying you. But no more than 2 children, OK?

Rohit, you are ridiculous... who would hack their own child's web site?

I was talking to someone who blogs about her kids, how/when/if it is appropriate to share with them, esp. if the mom is bitching about her offspring(and all breeding stay at home moms bitch about their kids because that's all they've got going on in their life.) It's a quandary for sure.

Good post.

1. While I do think you have a bright future in the field of digital marriage counseling, don't forget that sarcasm doesn't translate as well over email.

2. I completely agree with the above, but I would like to allow a loophole for items such as a Netflix account or other shared accounts involving payment (, etc).

3. If your wife pushes out kids (plural), you better buy her a Powerbook AND build the media server.

Leave it up to the straight people to share email accounts...who does that?! Who shares any account with anyone?!

Katie, I can do you one better: I can ELIMINATE iPhoto from your life altogether! I'm so gonna make an awesome spouse.

Jessica, if my kids were any good, they'd be able to stop me from hacking their sites, or at the very least, do a revenge hack on my site. And if they're not any good, then they deserve what they get.

Jon, given the givens, I'm sure the kids will find what their moms wrote eventually. Each generation is destined to be more technologically adept than the previous one. What's truly problematic is that that means our children will eventually find what we write today. Something to lose sleep over, I suppose. Or encourage self-censorship.

Audrey, maybe the media server, but I refuse to pay for a Powerbook for her. What's the point of dual income if she doesn't pay for shit herself.

FO, my sentiments exactly.

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