Who knew we lead such sext-citing lives

SINGAPORE - As we approach the holiday for which countless molluscs will lay down their lives, I take this time of the year to contemplate a romantic question of great importance: Is it merely a coincidence that "Valentine's Day" and "venereal disease" have the same initials?

This year, cybersecurity firm McAfee tackled the subject of virtual romance, thumbs-first.

Its survey found that 44 per cent of Singaporeans have used their mobile devices to exchange "intimate content" in the form of videos, photos, e-mail or messages.

In what is an aptly rabid and heated coupling of two words, this practice is an ugly portmanteau known as "sexting".

Bafflingly, 8 per cent of this lot owned up to sexting a "total stranger".

How does one manage this? I mean, Singapore is so small that the species known as the Total Stranger is officially extinct.

These days, you can't pick up someone at a bar and not find out the next morning that this person went to school with your colleague's wife's second cousin's karaoke buddy.

In fact, this place is so small that, even if you were to send a photo of just your privates to a "total stranger", I'd be damned if the recipient didn't squint at it for a while before saying: "Eh, that's Ah Seng from reservist, lah. I told him to get that mole checked."

In any case, I'd like to give this minority group the benefit of the doubt and assume that they'd inadvertently sexted the wrong person.

If this is the case, we deserve to have our birthrate surpassed by that of pandas'.

If we have not mastered the art of jabbing at smartphone buttons with our fingers, we have no business waving other body parts at other people.

Inevitably, one has to wonder what counts as sexy, risque talk for the practical, hard-driving Singaporean.

"Let's get married first and THEN ballot for a flat!"

"You put the 'hard' in 'hardware'."

"I go toy-let. Hold my handbag."

In any case, half the population is going about this sexting business wrong - Match.com's survey of single people in the United States found that 75 per cent of women don't enjoy getting sexy photos from men.

Instead, women tend towards non-sexual communication. What they want, according to 76 per cent of those surveyed, is emoticons.

Be careful what you wish for, ladies.

With any luck, men will find a way to combine the sexual with emoticons, and women will end up getting this: 8====> (given how men tend to overrate themselves, maybe it'll look more like this: 8===========> ).

On Friday, as we consider the value of our relationships (at least $200 for a bouquet of flowers), it is comforting to know that undying love is built on a bedrock of territoriality and suspiciousness.

According to the McAfee survey, three out of four Singaporeans admitted to nosing through messages and photos on their other half's mobile device.

This means that three out of four Singaporeans have trust issues, and one out of every four is a liar.

I don't blame people, though; I blame technology. Passcodes are a terrible way to keep your mobile phone secure.

If women want to keep their men out of their phones, the security question should be: "What was I wearing when I left the house today?"

(There is no parallel security question for men who want to stymie their wives. Any man who is still married knows that, whatever the answer, the woman is right.)

Rather distressingly, some of the McAfee survey respondents plan to "celebrate" this coming Valentine's Day on social media.

What does this mean, exactly? That when you "poke" someone on Facebook on Friday, you could face a paternity suit nine months later?

This is all very vexing. But who can take seriously the findings of McAfee on matters of the heart?

It is a firm that combats viruses, but is powerless against the kind that tends to spread on Valentine's Day.


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