Fredric Brown (1906-1972), an American Science Fiction writer, in his short story "Answer", written in the Fifties (note), hypothesised that all the computers of the world were connected together in order to create a supercomputer which contained all human knowledge in itself.
This computer was asked a first question, "Does God exist?" and then a short circuit occurred, some circuits were melted, making it impossible to turn off the computer, while on the screen the answer appeared: "Now He does."
Sex and the Internet
In January 1994, there were an estimated 1000 Internet sites in the whole world.
In January 2006 there were over 60 million.
A growth rate of this type has never been seen in the history of mankind.
In this window on the world there really is everything: texts, images, photographs, videos, drawings, films, songs, music of all kinds, recorded voices. All the different expressions of man can be found online, and when all the books, not only the current ones, but all those of the past as well, from novels to scientific texts will be digitalised and available online, we can say that Internet will then hold all the history of mankind, if it doesn't contain it already.
Sex holds a very relevant position in this sea of information. To test this affirmation, I typed the word "Sex" into a search engine, there were 644 million pages that contained this word.
Trying with the Italian word, "Sesso" there were 23 million pages.
This result is only partial because it does not include the forums, chats, groups and emails that talk about sex, but allows us to see the global interest in sex.
Due to this enormous mass of data, you could say that saying "Internet and Sex" is saying everything and nothing at the same time.
In order to go into more detail we need to make a series of classifications. Internet contains all the good and bad in the word, and this observation can also be seen in the sexual world.
The first distinction about sex and the Internet is:
- Non-Interactive sites (meaning sites that only offer images, photos and films to watch and download)
- Interactive sites (sites that allow visitors to communicate with each other through chats and forums, etc)
Non-Interactive Internet sex sites, are for the most part on payment, they try to cover every type of sexual behaviour or paraphilia.
The lists that follow, certainly only partial compared to reality, can give us an approximate sampling of what internet has to offer.
In this category, the first criteria could be that of "Who we are" the second "What we do".
Based on the "Who we are" criteria, we can distinguish heterosexual, homosexual, transgender, bisexual sites. Inside of which there are even more numerous distinctions.
Even the most banal of categories, "site with naked women" can in turn be divided into:
- Amateur (amateur photographs)
- Big boobs
- Preg (diminutive of pregnant)
- School girls
- Teens or babies
- Upskirt (photographs taken from below the skirt of girls without panties)
- 18 + (this guarantees that the models are of age)
In order to make the offer even more interesting, the women are described explicitly:
- First time
On gay sites there are the following descriptions:
- Ass boys
- Big muscles
- Drag queen
- Sexy lonely man
- Soccer boys
- Super studs
- Tasty Latins
- West Coast boys and surfers
If, instead, the sexual behaviour is used as a criteria, then these are some of the descriptions:
- BDSM (Bondage, Domination, Sado-Masochism)
- Blow job
- Cum shot
- Damsel in distress
- Drunk girl
- Foot fetish
- Golden shower or Water sports
- Glory hole
- Heels (and "Stiletto heels')
- Hidden cameras
- Hot wax
- Public exhibitions o Public nudity
- Panty hose
- Rotten (photos of corpses in the morgue, taken by police at the scene of the crime or car accidents)
- Stay up
- Stockings & Suspenders
- Voyeur (photos taken of people who did not know they were being photographed)
All these sites are not very different from pornography found in magazines or films: they offer photos and films. These sites are for solitary use (masturbation), or to see as a couple or in a group in order to get aroused.
Then there are the sites connected with prostitution; sites that, under the surface of "escort services", are actually offering prostitutes. The offers of these sites are different from country to country, in order to get around different laws.
Sites that offer illegal material are completely hidden, for example pedophile, "slasher" (hyper realistic photographs of horror and violence against women) and "snuff" (photos and films where the women are killed) sites. Slasher and Snuff sites are filmed live, usually in Third World countries, and the women are truly raped, tortured and killed.
The camouflage of these sites is very creative; a recent criminal investigation, for example, discovered a site with photographs of gardens; if a small detail of one of the flowers was clicked, the visitor was forwarded to a pedophile site.
Interactive Internet sex sites, allow communication among those who are online at that particular moment.
Chats, forums, messenger, e-mail, all connect people who are far apart, and sex is one of the most popular topics.
Chats and forums dedicated to a precise topic help save time for those who want to communicate with others who share their same tastes and interests; the mediation of the computer is appreciated by people who have difficulty in having more direct contact.
There are many different "advantages" to contact via Internet:
- the possibility of remaining anonymous and untraceable
- the possibility of creating a non-existent persona ( nickname, ID, alias, avatar, sim) and to play a role
- the possibility of interrupting communication at anytime if it is no longer interesting, by cutting off the contact and returning to anonymity
- the possibility of letting loose, without risking too much or feeling guilty about instincts, compulsions, perversions that are difficult, embarrassing or forbidden in real life
- the possibility, of getting to know new people, meet them in person, and establishing a relationship or finding a partner.
Using these methods sometimes, rarely, people find their soul mates or a quick flirt; other times they are victims of cruel jokes, and even other times things are even worse. In so-called Internet dating, with a person met only through chats, if one is not careful one can even risk his/her life.
A particular characteristic of interactive sex online, is the lack of body of the person participating in the chat.
Lack of body means that a person is going backwards compared to people who meet outside the chat room who start dating, know what the other person looks like, hear their voice, smells, see how the body moves, then slowly become intimate.
Those who meet online, are quickly informed about the sexual preferences of the person with whom they are speaking; in some cases even explicit photos are exchanged, which look like erotic magazine shots: full view on the genitals, the face masked out.
In this way, very often, the relationship starts and finishes with the exhibition of sexual organs, and is similar to a certain homosexual approach called "cruising " in the USA, and which takes place in red light cinemas, in train station bathrooms, some beaches, and in public parks.
In this way the other's sexual organs are well known, but neither has seen the other ever smile.
And this unbalance: too much sexual knowledge/too little personal knowledge, could be one of the reasons for which not many of the "real life" encounters of those participating in an erotic chat relationship, end up in a real relationship.
It has also happened that a good looking girl and a good looking guy, who met online, and wrote each other for months, exchanging even very intimate thoughts with each other, when they actually meet in person, no longer feel that mysterious sensation which leads to attraction and the feeling of wanting to make love and get to know the other person better.
Contact through Internet also has another characteristic: it is immediate, fast, available anywhere, only a mouse-click away at any time of day or night.
In real life, on the other hand, if man has a date with a woman he is interested in, he usually takes time to prepare for the meeting: he showers, shaves, scents himself, dresses his best, basically he tries to appear as attractive as possible. Then he leaves the house, crosses the city or goes even further, tries to get there on time, maybe he even buys some flowers. Similar preparations are undertaken by women as well.
Real men and women, have to work with the physicality of their bodies and the way they present themselves to others; they have to travel across distances, find addresses, park cars and so forth.
Paraphrasing Freud we could say that in real life, real people, have to find a middle ground between the principle of pleasure and the principle of reality.
And it is this middle ground between our desires and the concrete world that needs to be faced, that is an integral part of our lives and structures them daily. Giving this up is like spending time at the cinema, and thinking it is real.
In real life, men and women, faced with the possibility of sexual relations with an unknown person, feel three different types of preoccupation:
- the first is about physical health and the possibility of catching an STD;
- the second is about the need for contraception, in order to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
- If they are reasonable people they often purchase condoms to use during intercourse.
- the third is a normal preoccupation about performing well.
Along with other thoughts, obviously.
And when these two people meet, this happens with their real bodies, and they are either accepted or refused for what they really are.
In real life, it isn't possible to trick someone who is standing in front of us, especially when we take off our clothes.
If, on the other hand, we read the profiles of the people on erotic chats, we might ask ourselves if it is really true that all women are tall, thin, blonde with green eyes and have C or D cups, and that all men are athletic, tall, muscular, and have a penis that is 25 centimetres long.
And, sometimes we are faced with the fact that, very often, the person who presents herself in chat as a 20-year-old blonde with huge breasts, is actually a 60-year-old gay man, who enjoys reading letters from excited men, or a teenager who really doesn't feel like studying (like in the film "Viol@"), who by describing himself on Internet feels truly free. Another fun film about this topic is, "You've Got Mail."
To evaluate the weight of this fact, all we need to think about are the number of manuals published on how to create an attractive profile online.
Let's start with the fact that we are contrary to the moralism with which, the media very often stigmatise the people who spend hours chatting on the computer; that same moralism, in fact, is not used when they talk about the people who spend hours and hours watching stupid programs on TV.
We ask ourselves, though, how much psychological damage can be caused by not facing reality and spending time online impersonating other people with false identities. If the person who is doing this really has problems meeting others in real life, then this person risks abusing Internet, risks closing himself even more in his situation and isolating himself in a fake limbo where his only real sexual activity is that of masturbation.
In defence of Internet, one could say that, by chatting online, a lot of married people can cross that forbidden line and satisfy their secret desires without actually betraying their partner.
Wouldn't it be better, instead, to talk to their partner and face their sexual difficulties and crises?
Another thing, the idea of "betrayal" doesn't only imply having sexual relations with a person outside of the couple, but also establishing a daily relationship, which is personal and intimate with someone outside of the couple, and keeping it hidden from their partner.
Chats can also allow psychologically disturbed people to let off some sexual release in a non dangerous and legal way. Think about the dangers an exhibitionist would face if he showed himself in a public park. If, on the other hand, he masturbates in front of a camera, while other members of the chat willingly watch him, there is no risk.
But there is a psychological risk in doing this, similar to that of prisoners: if one gets used to masturbating, and knows how to do it better than any partner, then when there is real sex, with a real woman, one could have less feelings of pleasure, compared to the pleasure he learned to give himself.
Summing up all these considerations, we could say that the world of Internet and its continuous evolution, somehow reflect the difficulties and changes in the real world and constitute a privileged observation point on humanity today.
Everyday reality demonstrates that the number of people who use Internet continues to increase exponentially, slowly taking over the whole world.
After all, Internet addresses start with WWW which means World Wide Web.
And the Internet world is so vast that a lifetime isn't enough time to explore it all.
It would be best, however, to warn the traveller going to planet Internet, by quoting the American writer William Burroughs "Nothing is real, everything is possible".