Has social media made our fetishes easier to live with?
When I first started exploring my fetishes the world was a different place. The only way of connecting with others who might share my interests was via the small ads in the back of “gentleman’s magazines” or via cryptic messages planted in a “lonely hearts” column. When the Internet came along there were secret backwaters and specialist websites that could be browsed and profiles created that allowed me to connect with others.
It was all very secret and underground.
The only “face photos” came from the professionals touting their wares or those who were brave enough to risk someone bumping into them accidentally in the street. Even though we chatted online with endless streams of text and exposed our darkest fantasies we were still anonymous.
Facebook changed that.
It isn’t that the ubiquitous website has become a mecca for kink loving people, only that it has created a culture where sharing is the norm. People have become used to the idea of exposing themselves to the world. Happily we share pictures of ourselves drunk or pulling funny faces or standing in front of a dirty mirror showing off our latest underwear. The “selfie portrait” has given rise to trends from “outfit of the day” to the self-portraitographer.
This willingness to be open has in turn taken down some of the barriers to admitting to be kinky. Kink-oriented social networking sites such as Fetlife are awash with images of people in their favourite fetish outfits or playing their favourite BDSM games. These images sit comfortably in profiles that mix poetry about last night’s fantasy with images of their pet cat.
There is a part of me that applauds this newfound openness. A generation of kinksters are going to grow up without having to hide themselves away. They can express themselves and their sexuality without fear because they won’t be unusual. They’ll just be another profile in a crowd of profiles of people sharing.
I know there’s going to be abuse. People will steal images and post them and pretend they are the person behind the profile. It happens now and it will continue to happen. I also know that our Facebook savvy friends are quite adept at picking up when something’s wrong – at least most of them are.
In the long run this can only be a positive thing. The more open and comfortable we are as individuals, the better our society must become.