Cyber Sex, a taboo subject still to some, a rather jaded and blasé one to others and to some two words that still produce a blink, a frown and a “what sex?”.
Cyber Sex, (also known variously as computer sex, netsex, cybering and various other interesting names) started off decades ago in the very first chat rooms and it was then very simply a virtual sex encounter, with two (or sometimes more people) connected via computer networks sending each other sexually explicit messages describing a sexual experience.
No actual sex or physical encounter occurs, sometimes either or both party will indulge in some masturbation (and one would query if you didn’t, what the hell was the point!).
In text cyber sex each participant describes to the other what they would be doing and/or feelings if the encounter were really happening. It is fantasy sex the whole point being to sexually arouse both themselves and the other party. I am sure those of us who have been “online” since the very beginning, and were among those first heady individuals in chat rooms will have memories of the unbidden messages “wanna cyber?”, or the slightly freakier “wanna cyber and then ring me so I can hear you?” –
at the time I was far too geeky (and young!!) and far more interested in the large chat rooms of folks who seemed terribly interesting, certainly far more than those private messages'ers, whom I was utterly convinced had to be locked away in their mother's basement without showering for weeks! One hand on the keyboard, the other pumping away day and night.
But for all of that, cyber sex then did have an almost air of innocence about it, and I certainly knew people and would chat with those who regularly indulged, seeing it as nothing more than an extension of their usual “solo sexploits”. There was of course those who took it further and text based “erotic roleplay” existed almost as soon as chat rooms did, the difference between a standard cyber sex session a
nd erotic roleplay is that those indulging it the latter will take on a fictional character within a sometimes very intricate and involved storyline, and they will remain 'in character', for the whole time they are online participating, often this involves lengthy and sometimes very beautifully written scenes. Authors have been known to use this as a way of improving the way they write sex scenes for books!
As time and the internet has marched on, so has cyber sex. Virtual worlds such as Second Life have contributed greatly to this. I spent (and some (including me) say wasted) far too many years in SecondLife and during that time, saw cyber sex go from badly pixelated avatars moving in strange ways whilst their players typed, to the vastly improved 'beautiful people' avatars, jumping onto highly scripted and realistic 'poseballs', making the avatar move in a variety of realistic (and very unrealistic and hopeful) poses, while the players still do the typing or more likely talking. Whatever the lofty hopes and aspirations of Linden Labs when SecondLife came about, in my opinion and my experience, it does appear to be a massive virtual hook-up joint, with players, meeting and conducting online relationships through their massively pimped up and preened avatars, going as far as to “marry”, in ceremonies attended by their nearest and dearest SecondLife buddies, presided over by avatars (the players of which will often charge for the service). The wedding ceremonies can range from wording purely involving the players Secondlife's and avatars, to the people behind the avatars exchanging vows and words of commitment to take the relationship beyond the realms of the virtual. Of course plenty of folks in SecondLife have no intention of sticking to just one cyber partner, and revel in the freedom of being able to create as many avatars as they like, both male and female, and indulge in a plethora of online virtual assignations, from the one session cyber to the apparent committed online relationship (until they log on another avatar and commit to someone else entirely!). Many are though honest about their wants and intentions, making no secret of the fact they looking for multiple hook-ups. And of what cannot be left out are those people who really do meet and fall for someone online, who take it out of the confines of the avatars and SecondLife, and into real life, those people who either finally find a soul mate, wife, girlfriend, husband or boyfriend, or those who find a willing booty call partner, either single or not. I have made SecondLife sound like a sexual hotbed, and perhaps it is!! After five years playing, I certainly saw over and over every example expressed above.
But of course SecondLife is not the only virtual online MMORPG, and World of Warcraft apparently has as many folks doing the online nasty, although after playing WoW for a while I do fail to see how, WoW can be very solitary, the only people you interact with being those you team up with for a short time on quests, perhaps I was just too anti-social and my characters too rubbish to interest being chat-up by other WoW'ers.
But, despite the online worlds and MMORPGs, the most significant change to the way people indulge in cyber sex has undoubtedly been since Skype and other VOIP providers have been on the market and used by us masses, Skype provides a free, easy and more secure way of conversing with someone you have just met online without giving over your phone number (a very stupid thing to do). You can call yourself anything, load up a picture to your profile of anyone, and say it is you! Your voice can, if you wish be the only way of identifying yourself. However, this is only part of the story, voice cyber sex certainly did take over from text cyber sex, but with the proliferation of web cams, cam cyber sex has again in turn taken over from voice cyber sex. Participants in cam cyber sex will generally mutually masturbate, while telling the other party what they are doing, and what they are doing to themselves, it is completely removed from the days of text cyber sex, which was at times creative and full of fantasy. The most popular type of adult websites are live cam sites, and cam cyber sex is a way to get off and see some live fleshy bits without paying! This is of course a generalisation, and many people would argue that it is a way they can be close to someone they can't physically be with, its safe and free from the risks that a real life encounter can entail. There will always be a way of turning a buck, and I can remember in SecondLife, whilst exploring a club, finding walls of adverts from in-world avatars offering for linden currency (which can be turned into real money!), web cam sessions with professionals (although how professional I cannot attest too!!).
Cyber sex has changed, and evolved, but it still essentially involves the same things – the ability to 'get off', with someone you perhaps don’t know too well, anonymously and safely, it may be a precursor to a deeper more real relationship, or it may simply be two horny folks getting off!
If both participants are single, then no one gets hurt, as long as both are consenting adults, on you go – fill your boots, but online worlds such a SecondLife, and hook-up sites are full of married or in a relationship people, seeking out a bit of a fizz and sparkle, after the same has gone from their own relationship, these people will often pour their emotional feelings, needs and wants into these virtual relationships, progressing from text cyber sex, to phone and cam sex, perhaps also meeting out in the real world. Which brings me back to the premise of this article – is cyber sex cheating? Yes in my opinion it is, but actually not because of the sexual interaction that takes place, but because of the time, feelings and emotions invested online by those who indulge, anything that takes attention away from your own 'real' relationships is going to be detrimental to those relationships, as soon as a person starts to invest in someone else, then the other relationships will suffer, its as simple as that, there are of course times when a couple will both indulge with each other's consent and knowledge, using the online world to add some spice to their relationships, but for everyone else, surreptitiously hiding and sneaking about, don’t kid yourself, you are destroying your real world and investing in a unreal online existence that probably will ultimately end in little more than a lot of tissue use!