Monday, 18 June 2007

Technosexual Geeks Run Wild

"the digital age has created a technosexual generation hooked on no-strings casual sex."

I read this in a lamestream Sunday magazine article at the weekend.

Is there a generation that hasn't been hooked on casual sex, "technosexual" or not? It was a strapline dressed up as social analysis for Observer readers. To be fair to the writer, who probably had nothing to do with the headline, her article never really fulfils the promise of this lurid suggestion. I'm sure people do use the internet to arrange causal liasons (duh! and erm... learn how to make bombs and stuff). That's not really news.

What is interesting to me is that, thanks to the technology, there might be a development in the opposite direction... The development of the postal service allowed, for the first time, people to have long distance relationships. Intense relationships of passion built on words and dreams. There is a romance in the language of love letters that you don't find in sms. With email and the death of distance, and more especially the development of avatars and virtual worlds that facilitate an oddly real physical closeness, could we see a a return of the victorian-style long and (relatively) chaste courtship?

" much can you truly learn about a person from a blog? A lot of the information on Facebook is superficial and guarded. The pictures tend to be either improbably flattering or deliberately obscured - along with the rest of what's posted, they represent a highly manipulated reality."

The fact that our digital lives are largely anonymous and represent a "manipulated reality" is one thing, but then drinking six pints of lager before stumbling home with someone from the pub is manipulating reality too. I've asked around in Second Life, and I've of course, I've found people who've had real-life casual sex with people they've met as avatars. But there are even more who feel they are exploring a different kind of relationship through this medium. And it's often not as casual as you might expect.

I know of people who've left their real lives to pursue a dream born in a digital world... happy endings? I don't know yet.

There is anonymity online, but it provides a security that perhaps allows people to open up quicker and be more direct with strangers than is often the case in real life situations.

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