Technology plays an increasingly crucial role in our everyday lives. The Internet and social media affect all aspects of our lives from how people do their jobs, consume news, interact with each other, and even how their ideas about sexuality change and develop. Although sexuality is often thought of as biologically innate to humans, there is a lot of evidence that supports the idea that sexuality is partly socially constructed. It is no secret that millions of people use the Internet to view pornography, but other common “technosexual” behavior includes sexting and the use of countless online dating apps. Changes in the technological world are allowing for amplified participation in virtual social lives, allowing sexual relationships to be managed by a smartphone. In the field of technosexuality, researchers discovered that the blossoming technology has possible benefits and probable risks.
Over the past decade, a profusion of mobile hook-up and dating platforms have been developed. Many people see these apps in a positive light, and believe that they allow users to broaden their partner choices and open the door to opportunities beyond heteronormativity. Heteronormativity is based on the belief that heterosexuality is the only normal and natural expression of sexuality and promotes traditional male and female gender roles.
For example, a geosocial-networking app called Grindr was introduced in 2009 geared toward helping gay and bisexual men meet other men in their area. Applications like Grindr provide the LGBTQ+ community with a safe place to make connections and find companionship without sexual shame. Users are free to explore their sexuality without fear of judgment. Conversely, others are concerned that apps of this nature are leading to an unhealthy and irreversible “hook-up culture.” In our technosexual age, the dating process has not only been turned into a game, but it has also been hyper sexualized by technology.
There is an escalating concern about adolescent exposure to sexual content on all types of media and the possible effects on their sexual behavior, beliefs, and attitudes. While exposure to sexual content can affect people of all age groups, adolescents are particularly susceptible. Young people are being exposed to profuse amounts of sexual content during a developmental stage when their sexuality is being shaped. Being able to access pornography instantly and privately via the Internet can create unrealistic expectations of the male and female body. The repercussions of this can be the development of a poor body image for the viewing teen as well as a distorted conception of the bodies of future partners. Studies show that network television shows three times as many sexual activities taking place between unmarried partners as between spouses. The sexual encounters that are portrayed on television are almost always presented in a positive way, with limited discussion about the risks of unprotected sex as well as the emotional confusion or vulnerability that can result from sexual encounters. When the social mores of our society are blurred, adolescents have difficulty finding their own moral compasses. When there is a great deal of exposure to sexualized media and little portrayal of consequences, adolescents begin to adopt the behaviors, values, and beliefs that they are seeing.
While technology has created thousands of opportunities to find relationships, it can take a toll on existing relationships. Considering the fact that our smartphones are almost never farther than an arm’s length away, we tend to fill the gaps in our lives with the use of technology. More and more people notice that their partners are far too consumed by technology, leading to relationship problems. In this day and age it is common to answer emails at the dinner table, or have the television on in the living room at all times. However, spending time in the same room as someone is not the same as spending quality time with them without technology being involved. The constant need to consume media has also lead to an increased amount of infidelity. With the invention of social media, people now have immediate access to anyone that crosses their mind. Social networking websites as well as texting make it easy to carry out secret friendships that could lead to affairs. Prior to smartphones and the Internet, affairs were far more difficult to start and continue. Being able to have an entire private life on your smartphone makes marriage and partnerships more vulnerable to cheating in this modern technological age.
Ashleymadison.com, a website launched in 2002, has made cheating on your significant other too easy. The website even suggests on the homepage that users create a separate email address when using the site. According to the website, this is solely for the purpose of keeping your identity a secret. They describe their 52,060,000 members as ”…single, attached and seeking an affair partner, or attached and seeking something polyamorous. They are looking for online flirtation, for something casual, and for discreet relationships.”
In the 21st century, technology is an integral part of everyone’s lives. It allows us to do things that were unimaginable twenty years ago. It creates opportunities for a wide variety of people to meet each other and develop relationships. Technology has also provides a place for heterosexuals as well as members of the LGBTQ+ community to explore their sexuality. However, the unavoidable omnipresence of technology has, and continues to, change the way we view our own sexuality as well as the sexuality of others. Instantaneous and frequent access to sexual content alters the way that people form sexual relationships and view their own sexuality, sometimes creating sexist ideas about a particular gender. It is important to educate ourselves, especially adolescents about the influence technology can have on developing our sexual identities.