As I write this, I am still suffering from a food coma – that unpleasant state of being reached only after stuffing one’s face with everything edible – induced by my company’s holiday party earlier today. Having hosted my own annual holiday party this weekend and attended two heavy holiday dinners just last week, I fear for my ever-expanding waistline, not to mention my clarity of thought as I face a pre-holiday print deadline (this Friday) that looms larger than the side dishes I topped  on my plate just hours ago.

It was while recovering from this afternoon’s potluck (including a dessert bar of cakes, cookies and doughnuts – oh my!) that I received a startling press release from Mars. Although its contents should come as no shock to someone in the communications biz (i.e. me), I was nonetheless a little frightened by the bottom line: College students would rather give up their significant others than spend seven days without cell phones, Internet, e-mail or text messages.

This conclusion came as part of a TWIX survey of 1,000 college students about what they consider most important when taking a “pause” from studying. Specifically, research reveals that nearly two out of three participants (63%) would choose technology over a relationship, compared to 20 years ago, when 65% of Gen X co-eds would gladly have swapped their computers for love. (The study also claims that kids no longer need the campus library, face-to-face conversations are out of vogue, the post-grad job search is a primary concern, and students are more likely to go online than watch TV during their free time.)

TWIX has always been about giving people a moment to pause and chew things over, and there’s no time more important to take a pause for college students than during finals week,” notes Michele Kessler, vice president of marketing, Mars Chocolate North America. “As the authority on all things ‘pause,’ TWIX was the natural brand to explore how the ‘on the campus pause’ has evolved since the ‘70s. And students today are definitely taking the ‘moment’ in new and surprising ways.”

Although this should not be news to me, I am surprised. Not that I don’t love my cell phone. On the contrary, I’ve often wondered what I’d do without the ability to contact friends and family at a moment’s notice. (Editor Bernie Pacyniak may argue the necessity of this gadget, as he does not own one; I am both baffled and impressed by this fact.) And I have not been without a laptop in 10 years. (I do, however, remember life before the Internet; it’s a foggy memory, at best.)

As a journalist, I have come to rely on technology, to be sure. Without a computer, I would be lost, if for no other reason than to type, as my handwriting is shot from lack of use (unless you count those little yellow Post-Its all over my desk, but they’re practically illegible). I sometimes wonder why they even bother teaching kids penmanship – a lost art – anymore. (But I’m glad they do.)

Still, as we head into the holidays, a time to be shared with family and friends (in the flesh, I hope), I’m a bit troubled by all this emphasis on virtual living.

All survey results aside, today’s release from Mars did leave me with one lingering thought: I could really go for a TWIX right about now. (Coma? What coma?)

Happy Holidays!