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The online diary of an ethical pervert.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

We need to talk

Had a very cost fireside chat with Seldom Seen Kid last night. We discussed mutual friends, realised that we must have circulated around each other, both on the internet and in the real world without actually connecting, for some time now. I always find that actually meeting and spending "proper" time with someone in person after adhoc online chats or conversations across crowded clubs has an element of revelation to it. Assumptions are pared back, facial expressions and physical presences reveal us to be actual people rather than clever internet personas. We become who we are, not just what we say. Of course, one conversation hardly gets to the core of really knowing someone, but that first contact marks the turning point from cypher to psyche, the first step from acquaintance to friend. No matter how many words have been exchanged over electronic medium, eventually, to make the next step, we feel compelled to meet.

Generally speaking, if we want to say something important, to emphasise a connection or to exchange words of meaning, we do it in person. We do it by speech. Derrida notes such phonocentrism has strong historic and intellectual precedents, when commenting that philosophers prioritise voice as the privileged medium of meaning - something we still continue to do. When adverts remind us that it's good to talk, they refer to the live practice. When someone says "we need to talk" we know it's serious. Things said in text, things said in person. We value the latter more, even if the content is the same. Because it is live, perhaps, because someone is actually present it feels more real, more genuine.
We feel we understand a person more, are more intimate with them because they are in front of us - accessible to touch, to immediate interaction, but also because the voice comes from inside them, as if they are bringing something secret from inside them out into the world, to us.

So what impact might this that have on how we view kink interactions - like all other relationships, we use face-to-face meetings and real, live conversations when we want to express our seriousness, our honesty and to have "proper" discussions. I will always try and move as quickly as possible from an online scenario to a meet-up with new people, because my desired interactions are physical - I don't have cyber sex, for example. However others do, and their relationships are mediated through text, which can sometimes be viewed as less powerful and less meaningful than a "real" i.e. physical session.

But I do write a lot in my kinky life. Both here (where I write up and preserve the actions and voices), in emails and in IM conversations. I will often underscore a post-play-chat by sending an email afterwards, even if it's just to say thank-you, but I like to do the chat itself in person, as soon as possible. Text is not a mere the support function of voice, in this instance, it underscores and emphasises it, neither is a replacement for the other: text is also a necessary support to voice, voice or text on their own is not enough. I cannot always talk to someone face to face - it isn't always practical, or even desirable. Other forms of communication allow me to engage with people in different, equally valuable, ways, flirty text messages, long emails to read and re-read in quieter moments. I love having language I can save and keep, rather than simply the memory of what someone said, their tone and manner fading over time.

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