A number of incidents have caused me to think about the way that we perverts interact with each other over the internet. Particularly in potentially hurtful and thoughtless ways, ways that are made possible and often exacerbated by the fact that we are all sitting behind glass screens. Put simply - I'm not sure that the following two situations, one personal, one a bit more public, would have occurred in the same fashion had they been done in meatspace.
The personal first. As some of you know, I use various internet sites for dating. With mixed results. Them's the breaks. However, I was recently contacted by someone (no image, barely any profile text - that should have alerted me right off) with the charming request "u come talk to me cunt". Now, text speak and profanity aside, it's hardly the most alluring offer I've ever had in my life and a quick glance at his total-lack-of-profile - which still managed to be sexist in only two sentences - confirmed that he was not my type. I wrote a brief reply stating that acts of gorilla-chest beating didn't really do it for me and that if he wanted respect he might want to show some. He replied, with more rudeness and accusations of my not being a "true submissive". Presumably because a "true submissive" would have come over all wet-of-cunt at such a provocative and manly display of "true dominance". The key thing here is the difference between my perceptions of what D/s is and his. Wildly varying, which is fine, but things become less fine when one person's perceptions of what is good and kinky are labelled as "wrong". In his eyes, I was not a submissive, and my refusal to accept his definitions (or his rudeness) resulted in more abuse and more anger.
Second example is taken from that great bastion of internet arguments, the online forum. Specifically Informed Consent. I'm not going to go into details because I wasn't part of the original thread and merely witnessed the fall out and some later comments from people I did know. Plus the whole thing really, really does not need to be re-hashed. However, some of the same effects were observable - differences of opinion on kink becoming "right" and "wrong" ways of being kinky. whereby one person's perceptions of something shift from being a point of view (often passionately held) and into facts that need supporting with endless credentials, themselves also points of view. People got very upset and the whole thing became a version of my own experience - more abuse, more anger.
Some of this links in quite closely with my thoughts on how there is no one, true scene. There are no rules written in stone tablets - no matter how strongly we hold to safe, sane and consensual we still need to define, often for ourselves, what we mean by those three words. Once we start to define them, we may then come into conflict with others who disagree with our choices - and because our sex lives are so personalised, especially in BDSM, we can find it hard to separate an attack on how we fuck with an attack on us. Certainly the two can become conflated - for example I read "you are not a true submissive" as "you are not worthwhile as a person" because being a good submissive is part of my identity. I'm not saying that I'm crying myself to sleep due to what a fool on the internet typed at me, but merely offering an example of how this operates.
I once argued (actually, at least several times) that the internet offers an immense additional playspace as well as opportunities to connect for kinksters. It is not without it's drawbacks. I am reasonably certain that both of those incidents would have played out very differently had we all been in the same room at the same time. Seeing each other as people, rather than blocks of angry text full of unpalatable button-pushing words and phrases. Red rags to each other's bulls.
Again, I'm left with the question - what to do? Is it time to all get in the same space and start to say what we mean to each other. Face to face. Whilst I accept that it may be practically difficult to do that for every kinky person in the UK (or the world, let's realise the spread of this) I'm up for attending if such a thing ever materialised. But until then, here's my offer. If you have a problem with anything I've said or done, or if you ever do in the future. If I make you angry, upset or if something I've said just sticks in your throat: send me a note, write me a comment, tweet at me. Then let's meet for coffee and take this whole thing offline.
It's a date.