As a long-time resident of Silicon Valley, I hear every day that the internet has changed everything. And as a professional here, I have a front-row seat for the latest ways that people use technology as part of dating, mating, cheating, fantasizing, and long-term coupling.
But after 34 years in that comfortable leather chair—half before Broadband, the other half since Broadband—I can tell you the human heart hasn’t changed. People still want to connect, and still find it difficult. People still have trouble talking to their mates about sex. People still fantasize about infidelity—and lots of other things. Men and women worry about their “performance” before, during, and after sex.
And people definitely still lie about sex—to themselves, to their partners, and to their physician and psychologist.
People are still wondering if they’re sexually normal; they still withhold sex, or insist on it, as part of marital politics; they still have sex because they’re lonely—and often feel lonely during and after sex. And people still think men and women are “opposite” sexes, whose perspectives are dramatically different.
So has the internet changed anything about sexuality?
Only this: our obsession with the constant, intense, novel stimulation of the internet has made it harder to enjoy real sex with an actual person than it used to be. We actually have to remember to pay attention during sex now—since it doesn’t grab us like colorful, noisy websites do, and since it doesn’t promise us the entire world every moment the way our smartphones do. You can’t live- tweet or Instagram selfies during sex, which for some people diminishes the experience. And you can’t multi-task during sex, which for some people makes it boring. If you do mentally multi-task during sex, that often leads to sexual dysfunction.
In this entertaining, fast-paced talk, I’ll talk about what hasn’t changed about sex; review what sex is actually like for most people; examine how porn actually affects (and doesn’t affect) people; and discuss how apps and hookups are making it easier to find sexual partners—and harder to enjoy sex.
And I’ll definitely talk about how to make sex more enjoyable—without giving up the internet.