What odd encounters I had in my two days in the online dating world this past week. They prompted me to quicky hop back off the internet and also to re-visit and amend this idea I wrote about last summer.
In the message right after he introduced himself, one suitor provided me with a link to a porn site to ascertain my proclivities before he wasted any more time talking to me.
Another candidate listed his No-Nos on his profile: no abbreviations like LOL and no emoticons. In my usual friendly manner, I remarked that I agreed about abbreviations. However, I inserted a smiley emoticon by accident...uh oh. When he said I had broken his rules of engagement, I responded he was shrinking his universe of slatherees ( he apparently likes to slather women in attention). He retorted, "No wonder you don't have a date on Friday night or have pen pals who speak English." This made me wonder if he'd been posing as a 21 year old Ukranian who was simultaneously expressing great love for me. It was two personas too much for me.
I decided I no longer wanted to approach meeting men this way. With my recent divorce, I started thinking about Nora Ephron's takes on technology and romance in her scripts from You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally. Love is perennially challenging and rewarding, but does technology change the way we relate to one another?
You would think at my age I would be a little more street smart, but I’m new out here and have only a few observations on the internet, porn, long-distance arousal and relationships. I decided to I look at some numbers and now I have some questions. I’m curious what you make of these issues.
Porn. First, the HUGE numbers:
- 25% of search queries are related to porn.
- 12% of websites are related to porn
- The global porn industry is worth nearly $5 billion.
- Every SECOND in the US $3,075.64 is spent on porn; that’s more than major league sports or Hollywood can pull in.
- One out of three viewers is female. How DO they know that??
- The top 10 porn search queries are variations on the following: Youth (13.5%), Gay (4.7%), MILFs (4.3%), Breasts (4%), Cheating wives (3.4%),Vaginas (2.8%),Penises (2.4%),Butts (.9%), Cheerleaders (.1%)
It’s everywhere and most of you have checked it out; the costs are minimal, and it satisfies immediate hunger, like junk food. The thrill is short-lived but can be addicting.You won’t get diseases from watching porn. Porn might seem to be extreme exhibitionism, but in fact, the viewer reveals nothing of himself, so it is a covert means to find gratification. It requires nothing of the viewer. It separates “people” from the act. I wonder if all this porn is making us passive or lazy.
Some questions I'm hoping you will address:
- Do you increasingly want sex fed to you, as opposed to “working” for it?
- Is it difficult for you to get hot without having your favorite flavor in front of you?
- Do you find yourself using language you’ve heard in porn in your own sexual activity?
- Do you sometimes choose porn over the real thing?
Sexy Emails and Sexting. The publisher Harlequin polled women ages 18-40 in their 2012 Romance Study and found that 43% of them had engaged in “sexy” texting or emailing. Ah, the power of words. This form of communication requires some kind of relationship with your correspondent, no matter how limited, fabricated or artificial. So, on the spectrum of exposure I 'm exploring in this post, this form of arousal takes up the middle ground. No physical hazards, but some interactivity.
My questions, in the abstract, of course, are:
- Do you think “some people” have a words-only erotic relationship in their lives?
- Do you think "those people" who do this know their correspondent(s) personally?
- Do you think “sexy writers” would have real sex with their correspondent?
Finally, we arrive at that uncertain end of the spectrum of exposure: relationships, when Harry Meets Sally.
First, some numbers from Pew Research:
- Only 51% of adults in the USA are married.
- The never-married rate has increased to 28%.
- The proportion of adults who are divorced or separated has held steady at about 14%.
So, a lot of you are navigating relationships other than the married kind. There you are, having to meet and reveal yourselves to someone other than a spouse. The online dating industry has become part of the fabric of single life. The ranks of Singles Meetup groups are swelling. Nightlife thumps in every city. My observation from a small sampling universe has been that a lot of brave people ARE willing to step away from their screens, to tiptoe, stumble and dance with each other. Can you hear me clapping? Hang on a minute, I have a few more questions.
- What do you most enjoy about being single? What do you hate?
- What aspects of meeting and dating make you most nervous?
- Do you think some of these single people want to be in long-term relationships?
- How do you feel about being single in old age?
I look forward to hearing what you have to say on this subject of Eros in the twenty-first century, and what you think of using technology in the erotic life.