How far would a partner/spouse have to go online before it is considered cheating? Up to what point is flirting online acceptable? How ‘real’ is cybersex?
I concur with everyone’s posts thus far. If it is hidden from a partner, or done without the consent of all parties involved, it’s cheating. Interaction with another person online that is flirtatious would be treading dangerous territory – but, I would also question the solidity of the relationship in question if this is going on. If there is a need to flirt or cheat, is there something lacking in the relationship? In today’s world, I think it’s difficult to be in a relationship “forever” and “till death do us part”. We change careers with ease these days, why should it not be the same with partners? Things change pace so quickly in today’s
world – surely, we can assume that at times, our relationships will too?
As for cybersex… gee… I’ll probably get verbally bashed for this, but don’t males generally get off on it more than females? You’d have to have the gift of being a brilliant wordsmith to get a female that excited during cybersex, right? I suppose that if sexual acts are written about well, they could act as a form of erotic fiction – a legitimate genre for publication, so why not so legitimate for the online, virtual environment? But, in my younger days… gosh, there were some sad cybersexers out there! LOL
Or were we talking about cybersex with web cam and voice too? That’s something I’ve never pursued… Guess there are some lines I just won’t cross.
Judging from the moral panic over teens sexting and sending photos and videos of themselves that end up in the wrong hands, I’d say that cybersex has been turned up a notch in recent years…
Someone mentioned ‘not real sex’ but then went on to say it is an interaction. I’m curious as to how we’re defining real/unreal here. It seems to replicate that online is somehow not as real as face to face – quite a common theme that pops up in this unit. It also suggests that there is a boundary between online/face to face that matches real/unreal.
Yes, that is a good point… what is real and what is unreal?
I would suggest that the distinction between the two is becoming increasingly blurred. We have augmented and virtual realities in existence and progressing at a rapid pace. Why, just the other day, I was reading an article featuring Ray Kurzweil titled: ‘We’ll be uploading our entire MINDS to computers by 2045 and our bodies will be replaced by machines within 90 years, Google expert claims‘.
In this article, Kurzweil speaks of Singularity and the possibility of uploading our brains to computer networks. If/when this occurs, would humans even be asking if such cyber-sexual experiences are real or unreal? If everybody lived in the machine, would we even know how to consider alternatives?
Perhaps, today, we can still distinguish between real and unreal… but, we seem to be grappling more with this question as time moves on. The “boundary” you referred to in your post is becoming more and more unclear, don’t you think?
A FELLOW STUDENT’S POST:
A number of years ago I read an article and participated in a forum discussion about a man who was caught cheating on his wife using Second Life, and through that he met someone offline and started an affair. I’d never heard of Second Life before that, and after reading opinions on whether the virtual flirting and sex that happens on sites like that, I discussed it with my husband for his opinion and we ended up both starting accounts to play around with it.
We both got bored with it fairly quickly, but as we played around with the virtual world had a number of discussions about what kind of online flirting and cybersex is ok and what is not. I personally have no problem with my husband virtually interacting with someone in that manner and consider it harmless fun. I know others would disagree.
MY RESPONSE TO THIS STUDENT:
An interesting post. What if “virtual interacting” extended beyond an interface like Second Life to using something like the Oculus Rift? Would you still categorise it as harmless fun?
It’s rather dated now, but there was a “sci-fi” type of movie starring Pierce Brosnan called “The Lawnmower Man” (1992), based on a novel by Stephen King. It presents the futuristic idea of cybersex in virtual reality. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a watch to see how far this science fiction is no longer fiction.
Rubin, Peter. (2014) The Inside Story of Oculus Rift and How Virtual Reality Became Reality. Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/2014/05/oculus-rift-4/
THIS STUDENT’S RESPONSE TO MY POST:
That’s a really good question, Maha. I’s been years since I watched Lawnmower Man; I will have to watch it again as the context will be quite different now compared to the nineties.
The idea of using tools such as Oculus Rift to extend the experience of online interacting poses a whole range of new quandries, and I’m not sure I could give a straight answer. Many VR cybersex ‘games’ have been in development since the Oculus Rift was first announced, and while the reality in a usable form is a long way off, may end up being one of its largest markets. I don’t think I’d have an issue with ‘single player’ interfaces, although I would find them faintly ridiculous personally and I believe my husband would too. ‘multiplayer’ would go way beyond my personal comfort zone.
Eordogh, Fruzsina. (2014) When Porn and Reality Collide [NSFW]. Retrieved from http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2014/11/when-porn-and-virtual-reality-collide-nsfw/
MY LAST RESPONSE:
Great article, Thanks for sharing.
Yes, the teledildonics came up on my Twitter stream some weeks ago – we had a laugh about it at work, as we use the Oculus Rift to explore possibilities for teaching and learning in the university I work for. We were wondering how popular the Oculus Rift would be if such VR-sex services were offered in the mainstream.
I don’t doubt that we’re still some way off yet, but considering the speed at which things change in our world when it comes to technology, I wouldn’t be surprised if this avenue was mainstream in my lifetime.
It’s barely mentioned in the film, but The Minority Report starring Tom Cruise also depicts the everyday normality of virtual sex in one of the scenes of the film. You can see clients of a virtual brothel wearing gadgetry on their head that looks strikingly similar to the headsets for the Oculus Rift. Perhaps a combination of AR and VR will enable this to finally take off in the not-too-distant future?