What's next, and whether or not it should be stopped
Is that a bad thing? The argument here is very circular. If you see a particular activity as inherently wrong, harmful or immoral, then the effect of the internet does appear in part to be the normalisation of that activity – and therefore the role of the internet is by definition negative. If, however, you have few problems with the activity itself, then any boost it may receive through the internet is going to be a good thing.
As we look ahead into the next decade, we are left to predict two further developments, and one related issue.
Let’s start with the issue. Over the last decade, the internet has spawned a series of MMORPGs – multi-player role playing games – of which virtual worlds such as Second Life are a leading example. These have quickly been taken on by those who wish to recreate their favourite fantasies online, adopting new shapes and bodies, and acting out fantasies with other (presumably) adult players.
A major issue has been the way that they enable individuals to act out wholly non-consensual and illegal fantasies, including scenes with children or animals. On the one hand, defendants of these games point out that "they are only games" and there is a world of difference between role-playing a scene and doing it in real life.
On the other, critics have worried that acting out a fantasy is just one step away from committing it – and therefore individuals should be prevented from doing so and, in some cases, punished if they try to. This debate – the boundary between real and fantasy – is likely to continue and if anything to be exacerbated by two further technological developments.
The first is that of teledildonics: the ability to use telecomms technology to spur remote – usually vibratory devices – into action. It has been possible for a few years now to set off vibrators remotely via mobile telephone technology. The last year or so has seen similar developments arising through the internet – particularly through MMORPG’s – that ensure that when an individual "feels" something in game, they will also get to feel it wherever they are sat.
It is at this point that we move from the known and familiar to the sci-fi and faintly scary. As the tele- part of teledildonics becomes firmly established, so the range of what may be controlled remotely via the net becomes ever greater. Nerve implants, body suits, and systems that mimic far more subtle interaction and contact are now emerging from the labs, bringing the prospect of genuine "cyber sex" ever closer.
It may be that we are now at a turning point: if the past decade has been about technology more closely mimicking what people want to feel, and the internet facilitating real world communication, the next may see at least a partial reversal of that. In future, you will be able to have the sex you want with whoever you want without ever stirring from your keyboard.
Bad news, perhaps, for those celebrating St Valentine’s day – but possibly not such bad news for the more techie-minded. ®
Been there done that... twice :-(
"For those who really do like the idea of simulating sex with a partner who lies there and does nothing."
They make marriage dolls now?
AC for obvious reasons
I used to be a member of bondage.com : a "lifestyle" portal style site catering to BDSM. It was somewhere I went as a country boy to feel admist others of my varyingly degenerate creed. It was a good place. over the last ten years, both it, and its competitors have become more and more mainstreamed as BDSM becomes more and more 'trendy' in the marketplace.
Genuinely non-normal people were marginalised for an influx of casual users talking about sex and furry handcuffs, and as a community we split over whether or not this would be beneficial to varying legal problems we all had, and while we argued and goofed off, something a little more sinister was happening : we were leaving, Most-extreme-groups first.
Our portal site started refusing photographs of our exploits : Whilst hosting adult and X-rated pictures is apparently ok, hosting pictures of 'violent content' suddenly became not ok You think a hand on your throat is hot? you're no longer welcome to post or discuss that. nevermind the bruises on your ass, or talking about your piercings. The vast majority of users that favoured the more exoctic depravities in the bedroom became marginalised groups. The influx of mainstream users further made certain fringe groups unwelcome : heavy latex fetishim, infantilism, people into role-play-rape, etc were publically mocked and derided on forums, and the undercurrent of unwelcome feeling came from site ownership : we were banned from discussing rape, violence, and a slew of other topics that cluster around BDSM.
Whilst this is happening, we see the rise of nannyism and intrusive moderation against the breadth of sexual rights in the UK : you can be as sexy as you want, unless its kinky, in which case we'll be seizing your computer, have fun!
You can say we're all heading towards a more liberated place, and the more normal populace are : average person X watches more porn with their partner, has more sex toys, probably has a more enlightened outlook on sex and sexuality, but please, dont convince yourself this is a population-wide broadening of views. it isnt. those of us out on the fringe are increasingly threatened, made unwelcome by the sites built to harbour our kind, and as sexual issues become more acceptable to discuss, so we find ourselves mocked more openly in the newspapers.
Average joe is having more fun in the bedroom. Good for average joe. Anyone kinky has battened down the hatches, is vetting their playmates, is worried about losing their job should their predilictions become public knowledge.
Virtual worlds and MMORPG
Thanks, idai...though if you'd checked out my record, you'd see that when it comes to Second Life, i tend to buck the trend. I'm a longstanding participant - and admirer - though i do question at times where that particular world is going.
You may see it as something beyond MMORPG's...and in many ways, i would agree. But its a point of view - and one shared by many longterm inhabitants of sl. Whatever else it is, it is not a swipe of any kind at virtual worlds.