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Without family and friends hovering over you, you could be yourself and frankly express your feelings. Early on, mental health professionals started observing that meeting strangers online often had a similar effect.The psychiatrist Esther Gwinnell decided to write a book about “computer love” after a string of patients came to her office reporting that they or their partners had fallen for a stranger online.
Like The Joy of Cybersex, the first issue of Wired magazine came out in 1993.It contained an article about a woman whose prolific activity in “hot chats” transformed her from a “paragon of shy and retiring womanhood” into a bona fide “man-eater.” The author describes a female friend who spent hours a day in the 1980s on a service called the Source.He calls her by her handle: “This Is a Naked Lady.” “The Naked Lady egged on her digital admirers with leading questions larded with copious amounts of double entendre,” the piece began.But the ambiguous setting of these cyberdates made many people nervous.At the turn of the twentieth century, “tough girls,” “charity cunts,” and other early daters upset their parents and the police by taking a process that had always been conducted in private to the streets.“Computer erotica appears to provide many people with a ‘safe’ alternative to real, personal relationships in a world where HIV is deadlier than computer viruses.” This was in a book review. If a partner asked you (while undressed in the bedroom) to pretend to be something you’re not, say a cashier at a grocery store or a famous astronaut, you would:a. Think he or she had totally lost his or her mind, and suggest a visit to the therapist.d.
The book, The Joy of Cybersex, argued that the World Wide Web was a godsend for this reason. Say: ‘Sure, honey, but I’d actually rather be a rocket scientist, okay? Think about it for a few minutes, fix yourself a drink, and succumb to the unknown.
I cannot have been the only child of the Clinton era to have stumbled on the porn site doing social-studies homework.
I remember furtively clicking on thumbnail after thumbnail in an “Interns of the Month” gallery, watching spray-tanned haunches and balloon-taut breasts of girls posed around Oval Office interiors materialize, bit by it.
But the safer substitutes for sex to be found online offered whole new kinds of titillation.
To talk (or type) about sex constituted its own kind of intimacy.
For the first time in history, dating let young people seek mates and life partners on their own behalf, in public places.