Shan's Curtin Internet Studies Blog


Topic 1.1 – Dating, Sex and Porn
February 7, 2010, 2:56 pm
Filed under: NET12 | Tags: , , , , ,

During week two we were required to discuss the following topics:

1. How far would a partner/spouse have to go online before it is considered cheating?  Up to what point is flirting online acceptable?  How “real” is cybersex?

Quite an interesting discussion took place on the discussion boards, however the majority view appeared to be that if one acted in such a way that might cause their partner distress, then it was cheating.   This applied to any form of online interaction, as it does in real life.  I have personally had many offers to participate in cybersex, but the thought of just typing about it really does nothing for me – I much prefer the real thing!

2.   Read the Pascoe chapter above and discuss dating, romance and intimacy in the context of the internet.

One of the first thoughts I had when reading Pascoe’s description of how Jesse and Alice conduct their relationship without their parents’ knowledge was also how much easier the internet makes it to cheat on one’s partner.  While it may be easier to cheat on one’s partner as a result of interaction via the internet, Pascoe’s article also illustrates how easy it is to keep tabs on a partner as well.  This is particularly so when there are expectations between a couple in terms of password sharing and access to those areas of the internet that can be manipulated for others to see.

He refers to “boundary work” which are activities related to setting boundaries and what is/isn’t acceptable regarding the use of media in intimate relationships.  He quotes Brown as stating that “romance is a public behaviour that provides feedback from friends and age-mates on one’s image amongst one’s peers”.  This seems to be even more the case in terms of social networking technologies and rituals that have arisen as a result.  There are implications here in terms of those who are socially isolated and what happens when one’s online image doesn’t match with one’s real life image and whether this enhances or detracts from self esteem, something the majority of teens already struggle with in real life without further pressure from electronic communications.  Pascoe proposes that “casual internet-driven use of new media might be a form of informal learning through which teens develop literacy…”  What then, of the teen who does not have the same access to the same technology.  Are they then at a social disadvantage as a result?

This learning process, particularly when interacting with people one has not yet met in real life, must raise concerns about safety, particularly if interaction then progresses to real life, particularly in a situation where one’s parents may not know the meeting is taking place.  The ability to maintain a virtual private space influenced only by peers and unsupervised by elders raises implications about ethical and moral standards, as well as concerns over cyber-bullying which has garnered so much recent media attention lately.  Is there a danger here of teens not having enough adult guidance, or are the majority mature enough to be able to handle this form of interaction without adults being involved.

Being “facebook stalked” in order to find out more information about someone before approaching them for a date is one thing, but the implications of posting too much personal information on social networking sites could lead to much more harmful activities by those with less than pure intentions.

Pascoe states that: “It is important, however, to recognize that these forms of literacy are not a “dumbing down” of language but a contextually specific literacy practice, acutely attuned to the particulars of given social situations and cultural norms.”  I disagree with this.  While these may be contextually specific when used online, the forms of literacy he refers to are pervading other aspects of life.  Exactly who is promulgating this remains open to discussion – is it the teens themselves or are marketers aiming for the teen market perverting traditional forms of language in order to attract the money of our youth?

Pascoe  also describes new media as being important tools for gay teens wanting to date.  I suggest this is the same for any non-mainstream community and that these tools are also utilised by others such as transgendered people, the BDSM community, followers of alternate religions, etc.  Questions regarding the use of new media as a tool to justify and propagate things such a paedophilia, however, are the downside to this.

As Pascoe points out, it is a paradox that the internet and associated technologies on the one hand allow the development of identity and the learning of how to interact with others, but on the other hand creates anxiety and vulnerability in terms of how the rest of the world judges a person and the types of relationships (both desirable and undesirable) that can be pursued.  (p. 15)Group: discuss in your tutorial the acceptability of online dating amongst your friends and family. Do you know of anyone that’s met someone online and then gone on to date them face to face?

3.   Group: discuss in your tutorial the acceptability of online dating amongst your friends and family. Do you know of anyone that’s met someone online and then gone on to date them face to face?

There was much discussion in our group about whether internet dating is acceptable or not.  A general consensus was that it is a lot more acceptable than it used to be, with the majority of participants knowing someone who had used it in the past to meet people offline and conduct relationships, if not having done so themselves.

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