We are the millennial generation. According to older generations, that means we are selfish and entitled, because we all got participation awards when we were kids. According to Jon Stewart, that means we like our soup in a bag — Re: Campbell’s new “Go” campaign. According to Wikipedia, that means we are more familiar with communication, media and digital technology. While I don’t think that participation awards or bags of soup have had a large influence on our generation’s sexual experiences, I do believe that technology has impacted sex in various ways. Never before has sex been so digitally accessible — through Internet pornography, sure, but also through cybersex, sexting and Skype sex.
I feel like most people think that cybersex happened solely in AOL chatrooms back when we were all getting screen names for the first time. It always started with “ASL?” and ended with someone’s parent needing the computer or the phone. These were the days of dial-up, y’all. Cybersex, or “cybering,” is why parental controls were created. I’m going to venture a guess that these days, people looking to get their jollies on the Internet are not scoping out AOL chatrooms, but I can’t say that I’ve never been on Google Chat when things started getting hot and heavy.
Sexting is more convenient than cybersex insofar as it is portable. However, that portability comes with increased risk. God forbid you leave your phone lying on the table when your sexting partner starts talking about all the ways he or she would like to touch you, with intimate details regarding where and how often. Imagine that reaction at Thanksgiving dinner: one of your relatives picks up your vibrating phone and reads about how your penis seems way more tantalizing than any turkey. Sometimes, though, words alone just don’t do the job justice. These days, everyone has a 13-megapixel camera on their phone to catch those important moments in extraordinarily high quality. It can be so tempting to really let your phone buddy know exactly what you’re wearing by sending a picture. That said, we have all heard the horror stories about such intimate pictures becoming as viral as herpes and getting around to everyone you would never want to see you naked. With the release of applications like snapchat, it seems a lot safer to send nakies, but beware that there are still risks involved.
If pictures don’t provide enough continuity, programs like Skype can help you see what your partner is doing in real time. Picture quality isn’t always excellent, and it can be super awkward if there’s a lag right in the middle of your bosom buddy’s big O, but it has the benefit of seeming more personal than pictures or text in a lot of ways. When I first entered a long-distance relationship, my partner and I both felt that getting naked over the Internet was risky and kind of stupid. Neither of us asked for it, and neither of us volunteered to be the first to drop trou. As time went on, though, and the distance seemed wider and wider, we both became bolder when it came to our online bonding time. What started with both of us always fully clothed transformed into me in just a bra or him in just boxers, and eventually, it got to both of us in nothing at all. I think the idea of Skype sex is pretty bizarre, and the logistics of it aren’t wonderful either. When I’m on camera I’m often worried that it’s not my best angle, that I look fat, that he’s going to be weirded out watching me touch myself, etc. At the end of the day, though, I really do feel more connected to him than I would if we had just talked on the phone. Additionally, not being able to touch the other person allows you to really appreciate all the smaller details that can get lost in sex, like the face he makes right before he comes, or the way his abs tighten when something feels good.
No type of digital love is possible without some level of trust. You have to trust that your partner will keep your virtual interludes to himself or herself and not go posting your nudes all over the interwebs. I am completely aware that my partner could screenshot me while I’m naked in bed, but I trust him enough to know that he wouldn’t and the trust is mutual. There’s certainly a risk with digital sex, but there is also a reward. It can be great to receive a steamy text about exactly what your partner wants to do to you when they see you later that night when you’re in the middle of your business school meeting, or a quick picture of you in your jammies before you both go to bed. Words can arouse and excite, but as the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Tyna H. is a Behind Closed Doors columnist and she’s a pro at finding her best angle on Skype.