My earliest memories of the internet are set in AOL chat rooms.
I spent the summer of 1998 in chats about video games, the James Bond series, major league baseball, and whatever else interested my 10-year-old mind. Every conversation was different, but each began the same way. I would say, "Hello." And a strange somewhere across the world would respond, "a/s/l/?"
Age. Sex. Location.
"I am 13," I'd explain, "Male, and from Missouri." If the stranger was my age, or claimed to be, the conversation would continue. If they were older, they'd disappear keenly aware that being seen in a chat room with a child wasn't a good look. As an adult, I'm aware that while I was in AOL chats to talk about pop culture, a large chunk of the folks were just looking for digital hook-ups.
The range, scope, and prevalence of sex technology in 2015 makes the AOL chatrooms of 1997 seem quaint. Snapchat, Tinder, and even Facebook double as social networks, dating platforms, and subtle messaging systems for sexual missives.
This week, I invited sex tech consultant Lux Alpatrum to explain the culture around digital sex, and how technology is influencing intimacy.
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