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The Truth About Sex Tech

Debunking Myths about Sex and Technology

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Most public discussion of sex tech is generated by the mainstream media and by politicians. Here hunches, stereotypes, and value-laden prejudices are presented as fact and guesses are delivered as foregone conclusions. Much of what is said is based not on empirical research or even on firsthand experiences, but on myths about sex and technology which have been around long before the Internet. To better understand why sex tech is so maligned, it can be helpful to consider the myths that underlie so much of the popular idea of what sex tech is.

Sex Is Natural and Technology Is Artificial

This is the granddaddy of sex tech myths. It’s based on the misguided premise that some kinds of sex are “natural” and therefore good, and other kinds of sex are “unnatural” and bad. This premise is unfounded from both a scientific and sexual health perspective. Sex is much more than procreation, and these days even procreation can be done without any human sexual contact. Nonetheless, we carry an image of two humans having one kind of sex as the ultimate expression of humanity.

On the other side of that coin we have technology. Despite the fact that technology is created by humans and comes alive through our use of it, we have a concept of technology as fundamentally artificial and superficial. What we ignore is that when we interact with each other using technology, the tech doesn’t magically diminish the meaning of those interactions. We might feel that way, but that feeling is a reflection of our beliefs and values, not the technology. Let’s consider some other common beliefs about sex tech.

Sex Tech Gets in the Way of Human Interactions

Some people argue that we are becoming too “technologized” and as a result we are losing something of our connection to other humans. To focus on technology as the culprit in our social alienation from one another is somewhat arbitrary. The same accusation could be made against suburban sprawl, or the nuclear family. There seem to be two ideas that underlie this one.

The first is that when two humans interact using technology, their interactions become less human. It follows that sex tech makes sex less human.

The second idea is tied to our fear that technology can replace us. When it comes to sex, the fear is that sex tech will make sex obsolete.

Sex Tech Warps our Minds

When you read about technology and sex or hear it talked about on television, it’s almost exclusively in the context of sexual danger (such as cyber stalking and so-called internet porn addiction). There is a deep-rooted belief (echoed and amplified by practically all mainstream media outlets) that technology is leading to a warping of our sexual minds. We’re told it gives us unrealistic expectations, ideas we apparently never would have had on our own, and makes us either pull away from our real partners or lash out with real sexual offenses.

Sex Tech Will Create a Generation of Lazy Lovers

Another expression of sex-technophobia comes in the form of talking about the “good old days” when sex was apparently simpler and people had to develop better sexual skills and rely less on technology. But this is an old complaint that has been used with the telephone, the automobile, and motion pictures before the Internet came along. Each new technology is said to be destroying our connection to each other and turning us toward a love of, and reliance on, said new technology. Somehow we manage to ignore the fact that if we prioritize spending time with each other we’ll, you know, spend more time with each other. That technology may be compelling, but we usually have the capacity to choose when to turn it off. Also, missing from this myth is the possibility that sex tech can help us develop our sexual skills and give us more opportunities to try them in face-to-face interactions.

Sex Tech Is Only for People Who “Get” Technology

The stereotype of geeky loners who obsess over new technologies because no one will sleep with them persists to this day. This situation is not necessarily helped by social networking sites that encourage loose interpretations of words like “friend”. The stereotype acts as a dividing line between those who “get” tech and those who don’t. And as far as those who don’t are concerned, sex tech is only for techies. In the not to distant future, this will change. The goal of most technological development today is to let the technology fade into the background of our lives and allow us to access sophisticated technology without knowing we’re using it at all. When the learning curve lessens, everyone’s ability to make use of sophisticated sex tech increases and the lines between sex tech and sex may blur completely.

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