Computers, sex and glamour

If you read enough (or even a little) about gadgets, technology and computers, sooner or later, you’ll find some journalists using the phrase “sex appeal” to describe a small, metal electrical gizmo. This is misguided, and lazy: firstly, if PCs genuinely did have to exude sex appeal to propagate as a species, the vast majority of them would make even the laziest Panda look like a viagra’d up lothario living life in permanent fast-forward.

Secondly, and perhaps more annoyingly for me, as an IT journalist, there’s a strange desperation to the term “sex appeal” when applied to a computer. It’s borrowing attraction from somewhere else; a latent admission that computers aren’t attractive and interesting for what they are. You could even go so far as saying describing a computer as having “sex appeal” is hand holding for a nervous audience (and writer):

DON’T WORRY LADS, LIKING COMPUTERS DOESN’T MAKE YOU AN ANTI-SOCIAL WEIRDO.
THEY ARE SEXY.
LIKE GIRLS ARE.

You see a similar tactic on the front pages of a good number of computer and technology magazines – PC Format, T3 etc. – interesting gadget, cradled in the tanned, PhotoShop-smooth arms of a model.
Red-blooded re-assurance.
You’re not a bit odd for being interested in technology.

Still, it’s perfectly understandable why it happens, and it does neatly illustrate the way in which  we live through technology; not only in terms of how we function day-to-day (e.g. texting a friend to say we’re running late), but the way we often humanise technology. Give it our attributes, describe it in our terms. Calling an iPod ‘sexy’ reflects the iPod’s success at becoming a part of our life – we’re telling a story about it in which the object becomes vaguely human.

Similar to how we anthropomoprhise pets, maybe.

“Good Boy.”

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