What would happen if suddenly the internet stopped working over the whole world, if we were all in the dark? Would we still be ourselves? So much of our lives are online, so much of our identity. The world would come to a complete stand still. Would the world end? With everyone and everything so connected, our social lives and identities have become, in part, digital. Our lives are so online, we are constantly connected to our smart phones. The cyber world is a part of our real lives. We can’t simply turn it off, they are extensions of ourselves, our mind. In saying that, what does this mean for our sexuality and relationships?
The internet, as we know, is a huge cyber space that we all interact with on a daily/hourly basis. It can be a great place for individuals to find people of similar interests. It is the beginning of sexual expression and the advance of cyber sexuality. Back before the internet an individual would have to go down to the local newsagency and pick up one of the dirty magazines, meanwhile experiencing a great deal of stigma. Yet, in modern society, the internet creates a space where you can access anything at any time anywhere. This is also enhanced in the last ten years by the smart phone. With the nature of the smart phone we have access to sex 24/7. We could be sexting a potential lover that we have met on tinder while in the middle of a university class discussing the power play of the global inequalities in the south west. Almost everyone in the western world has a smart phone. We rarely come across someone who does not own a smart phone, and when we do we ask questions like; Are you living in the 19th century? how do you cope? Do you have life? All kinds of questions like this.
Sex is a difficult and interesting topic to study because of the incredible amount of negative stigma that coats it. Yet we are all in some way experience cybersex. An important part of our online sexuality is that sex can be no longer a physical act. Sex can be through many different terms. For instance; video calls, texting (sexting) which can involve images and text. Online sex has a lot of dark areas and maybe even more than we have in the real world. Although we can’t really make a distinction between the real world and the cyber world because they are all one in the same. Our ‘real’ worlds have become/involve our cyber worlds. Sexting is an act of online sexual endeavour that has many different issues that evolve around it. Amy Adele Hasinoff’s TED talk on sexting highlights very key elements of the laws on sexting and that these laws are unfair to the act itself. The very nature of the internet creates some of these issues. One of the issues I want to highlight with sexting it this idea of sexting sexual abuse. We often find that people don’t seem to understand the concept of consent when it comes to sex online, not just in the flesh.
Firstly, we must talk about the online dating crazy that has occurred in the last four years called Tinder. Tinder brought online dating to a new level of accessibility by using the smart phone and creating an app. This created a whole new avenue of sexting and online sexual interactions. Tinder mixed with snapchat automatically have people a great avenue for fun and ‘carefree’ sexting. With Tinder people can talk to multiple people at once, even engage in sexual endeavours with difference people at the same time. This creates a whole new world of online sex. It created way for sexual expression and freedom, but it also created a way for harassment and abuse. There are many cases of these sorts of harassments, but there is also harassment that is never reported that is experienced very regularly. Tinder is an interesting forum to also have a look at the gender divide and the different way that men and women experience online sexual encounters.
To present all these ideas I am thinking of putting together some sort of visual representation on the different areas of cyber sexuality. Hopefully in a blog like format where I can clearly express certain areas of said topic in a visual and written way. I want to show come digital and modern sex has become and how much sex is just as part cyber as it is physical.
- Hasinoff, A 2016, How to practise safe sexting, online video, TED, viewed 15 March, <https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_adele_hasinoff_how_to_practice_safe_sexting >