Seven in ten people now sleep with their smartphone, according to one survey, so it was probably only a matter of time before nomophobes here started “cuddling” their beloved gadget as well.
Communications giant HTC has just launched the world’s first squeezable phone, and boosting the company’s revenue by 52% last month alone, it’s certainly been welcomed with open arms by consumers.
Starting from €749 SIM-free, the slick U11 has squishy sides that let users take photos, launch apps and text, among other things, with one quick hold.
Jetting into Dublin to help spread the word recently, body language expert Tracey Cox reckoned it could be just the thing to remind users to reconnect with the humans in their lives too.
“There’s a real problem in society now because no one’s getting enough touch with all the automation of everything, like self-service supermarkets, and touch is really necessary,” she said. “I know loads of single women who just go and get massages because they don’t get touched another the time.
“As a human, as an animal, we’re meant to be touched. It’s emotional, it’s physical. People who are touched and cuddled, or who have a pet, their immune systems are much higher.
“I think it’s quite an intriguing thing to have the squeeze [function on the phone] because then it does remind you, ‘Hey, this is about touch, this is about physicality’ — it’s not just a screen.” As the author of such titles as Supersex and Sextasy, the British personality has long since championed the use of technology by couples to spice up their relationship, whether it’s saucy snaps, sweet text messages or both.
With almost half of those in relationships admitting to being “pphubbed” — or ‘phone partner snubbed’ — by their loved one however, she’s not ignoring the growing problem of ‘technoference’ either.
“When you see couples and they’re on the phone together it doesn’t bother me,” told Cox. “It’s when you see them and they’re out and they’re [each] on the phone. In moderation, technology works very well for couples. If you’re on the phone together looking up stuff like holidays or sending really nice texts during the day. You’ve just got to have moderation [and] say, ‘Right, we’re going to put our phones down now’.
“There’s so many things you can use your phone for to enhance your relationship, as well as destroy it,” she added, “The phone’s are OK, it’s the social media that you need to watch — it’s such a time waster.” Presenter Tracey identified eight different types of cuddles favoured by huggers including ‘the power squeeze’ and ‘the insecure squeeze’.
And Channel Four’s erstwhile Sex Inspector even claims she can tell by the embrace whether the pair will be going to bed with more than just their phone after a ‘sexy squeeze’.
“You can tell whether [people are] sleeping together or not because of the way they’ll squeeze and hug lower down the body,” she explained. “Generally with squeezes and hugs, upper torso represents love, lower torso represents sex, so if you see a couple standing together and they’re really close all the way down, that’s generally a good sign that there’s a good love/sex connection.
“The ‘fake squeeze’, on the other hand, is sort of like the equivalent of the air kiss [where] you literally have your arms out so far that you don’t have to put your torso anywhere near them.”
Having analysed the body language of hundreds of celebrities over the years, sexpert Tracey singled out Ireland’s own Brian O’Driscoll and Amy Huberman for their “textbook nice couple pose” on the red carpet: “They just look like your average, affectionate happy couple. There’s no tension anywhere.” US president Donald Trump and First Lady Melania, meanwhile, are prime culprits of PDA — that’s ‘Public Display of Animosity’ — after the Slovenian was pictured apparently swatting her husband’s hand away during a trip to Israel earlier this year, she argued: “It’s just absolutely extraordinary. I mean, it’s an open warfare with these two in public.
“Before he was president he was all over her — he always had his hand on her arse, touching her almost inappropriately. Whereas now he’s just not interested in her.”
While The Donald once boasted about grabbing women on a whim, in this litigious age, columnist Tracey urged caution before squeezing anything other than your handset.
“You have to be very, very careful, don’t you?” she agreed. “There are certainly areas that you can’t touch.
“Most people will wait for a touch back — that is sort of the golden rule with anything like that.
“If you’re unsure of whether somebody likes being touched, or whether you’re being appropriate or inappropriate, do a light touch somewhere safe like the back of the hand or the forearm, and if they touch you back usually within about five minutes, then you’re safe.
“If you’re hugging someone and they pat you on the back it means, ‘Stop now!’”