Does internet porn qualify as cheating?
A running theme at Vodka/Soda Magazine is how technology has been trumpeted as an inherent good but always turns out differently than first imagined by the creators and standard bearers of that technology.
The internet was created as a form of communication that would be safe from foreign ears and it then morphed into things such as the world wide web, e-commerce, and web 2.0. The internet has also changed how we communicate. It has allowed us to communicate faster, better, and in many new forms from uploading videos to YouTube to chatting on MSN Messenger. It has changed the dynamic of our personal communications as emails have largely replaced “snail mail” and especially in how virtual worlds have been created with virtual communities of people who have never physically met in person.
With this shift in the paradigm of communications, new problems arise. For instance, is a harmless flirtation with someone you’ve met in a chatroom sincerely harmless? The two people may never have been in the same room and may never have actually spoken to one another, but nevertheless it does affect the integrity of their real life relationships should they have a significant other.
This new form of communication begs the question: how real are virtual worlds online? The virtual world is more real than the imagination, but less real than what is termed “the meatspace”. Imagining sexual dalliances is not considered cheating by anyone but the most rigid of moralists but sexual innuendo online or “cybersex” certainly does cross a line. The real question therefore must be: Is pornography adultery? Ross Douthat tries to answer that question in this month’s The Atlantic Monthly. Here’s an excerpt:
A second perspective treats porn as a kind of gateway drug—a vice that paves the way for more-serious betrayals. A 2004 study found that married individuals who cheated on their spouses were three times as likely to have used Internet pornography as married people who hadn’t committed adultery. In Tom Perrotta’s bestselling Little Children, the female protagonist’s husband—who is himself being cuckolded—progresses from obsessing over an online porn star named “Slutty Kay” to sending away for her panties to joining a club of fans who pay to vacation with her in person. Brink ley’s husband may have followed a similar trajectory, along with many of the other porn-happy celebrity spouses who’ve featured in the gossip pages and divorce courts lately.