Hi, please

Cyber Sex and Booty Calls

So I wasn’t in the mood to go out tonight and decided to stay in and usually it’s not such a bad thing but for some reason now I’m feeling lonely =( Anyone care to chat? I won’t respond to messages without a pic

- A 35-year-old woman on Craigslist

Isolation, loneliness, fear, inhibition, a lost sense of companionship and trust, and desperation – welcome to the modern society, where every man is for himself. ‘The power of touch’ means how smart your digital phone is, because public spaces have become transitional zones of commerce. For this lady, social rituals surrounding sex are at this point impossible to negotiate. For her, and for many other people like her – obese teens, alienated adults, people who are not good consumers. She resorts to the Web 2.0.

Sex is about sharing, and so is the Internet. I will switch between the fantastic and the real, in my travelogue, to explore if the multidirectional and multidimensional social web also facilitates meaningful sexual interaction.

the real:

A Booty Call is a communication made for the purpose of arranging a meeting for sexual acts, when a traditional romantic date is not likely or not desired. But this quick-fix solution is not the only option on the free classifieds on Craigslist.

I will create fake profiles of gay, straight and bisexual, men women and transsexuals of various ages with different personality and body types and different relationship preferences. While I am very interested in gender, orientation, and relationship-type based statistics, I will also analyze the text of the responses to look for clues to meanings behind how people behave.

the fantastic:

Cyber sex involves interactive description of erotic fantasies that lead to sexual stimulation. While web cams are a common visual aid, I will focus on the newer, more fantastic 3-dimensional virtual reality applications that greatly increase the bandwidth of communication by a) providing an alternative reality that enables long term virtual relationships, and b) allowing diversity of experience by blurring the boundaries between humans and animals, humans and mythical creatures, and humans and machines.

My platform is IMVU. I choose it because of familiarity. Research will be ethnographic, based not only on observation and interviews but also conversation and participation. The people I interact with will remain anonymous, and there will be some demographic data.

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8 Comments

  1. Ryan 00:44, Feb 23rd, 10

    This will be innnnnnnnnnnteresting. I see that you choose the topics that are uncomfortable to most, but probably the most intriguing :) Good luck again and be careful of sexual predators ;)

  2. juliette b 11:33, Feb 23rd, 10

    Interesting hum…
    However I am just a bit confused regarding the last part of your investigation : I don’t really see how is this related to animals.
    But well I am pretty you know where you wanna go with this so I am actually looking forward to seeing the results

  3. niharika 13:14, Feb 23rd, 10

    Harris, not sure if this ties in with what you’re trying to do, but interesting for you to explore anyway —
    You should check out a website called ‘Seeking Arrangements’.. It takes the ideas of loneliness, need for companionship and desperation to a whole other level. The website is a meeting ground where wealthy, lonely men and women seek (younger), needy men and women. Essentially Sugar Daddies / Mommies, looking for Sugar Babies. The commercial and financial side of these relationships is quite interesting…in fact The New York Times even did a story about this website last year!

  4. HoniehLayla 13:33, Feb 23rd, 10

    Harris,

    Can you explain what IMVU is in more detail? I’m not familiar with this – I’m interested to learn what you find.

  5. Harris 13:53, Feb 23rd, 10

    Honieh,
    IMVU is a graphic (3D) instant messaging client and virtual world – somewhere in the middle of, for example, MSN Messenger and Second Life.

    Juliette,
    These applications allow you to visually represent yourself as a humanoid – you can have wings and be a fairy and you can have a tail and be a furry :)

  6. Leslie 14:16, Feb 23rd, 10

    Sounds like it should be an interesting project, Harris! I love on the main page for IMVU, how one of the little blurbs under the main picture says “Escape into IMVU.” It would be interesting to look into what type of people use this site. Like, per your quote above, why do people choose to stay in, forgo physical socialization, and choose to take part in this virtual socialization instead? I’m sure it is a form of “escape” from the real world for some people.

  7. DanJee 15:28, Feb 23rd, 10

    Very interesting. Provocative. I have been seeing a lot of press/blogs about “sexting”. Also, recently saw something about some lady stalking and sexually harassing a 14 year-old boy through Playstation Home. This is definitely a topic that needs some coverage with digital blurring the boundary to traditionally taboo areas.

  8. Harris 11:42, Mar 2nd, 10

    Leslie,
    Yes, that main picture is what lured me into exploring IMVU. I’ll post more about what kind of users IMVU claims to have, but most of their users are girls in their teens and twenties – people like me who get touched by their main page and want to escape :)