I’m not sure what to make of this recent study that indicates about one third of cyber sex participants suffer from depression and anxiety. (Apparently, “the more heavily they engaged in online sexual activity[,] the higher their level of depression and anxiety”. I suppose heavily refers to the amount of time devoted?)
What gives me pause is my confusion over what exactly the researchers classified as cyber sex. It seems that sending “erotic” emails counts–does that include flirting?–as does downloading content, although the type and source of content isn’t specified. Are they conflating attempts at online dating with membership to a non-interactive “fetish” site? Do messages on Adultfriendfinder fall into the parameters of cybersex if those emails are orchestrating a sexual encounter to take place in “real” life?
Maybe this group of participants is depressed because they were lonely or sexually frustrated before they got online. It may be why they got online in the first place. Maybe some people on Okcupid have comparable levels of stress, with or without dirty talk. It makes sense to me that when it comes to attempts at dating or just getting some (on or offline) the harder you try, the more stressed you’ll be. It takes a lot of misses before you get a hit, and bad experiences can make good ones seem even further out of reach. Not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything.
Or maybe I’m just unfairly suspicious of claims that seem to mirror the 90s mentality of “computer facilitated relationships, especially sexual ones, are perverse and damaging.” What do you all think?