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Sex in the Age of the Covid-19 Pandemic

by David Rutland
Sex in The Age of the Covid-19 Pandemic

Cybersex Teledildonics are Making Covid-19 Lockdowns Fun

Sex is a complicated business in the UK.

In the eight years since the dating app Tinder was launched, lazy lovers have grown used to swiping through the carefully crafted mugshots of moderately attractive strangers and having one arrive at their door for fun, frolics, and…erm…fucking.

That’s illegal in my country now, and both participants (or more, if that’s your bag) can be fined £1,000 each if detected by the police, the council, nosy neighbors, or a passing horse.

For the horny singleton in search of transient, non-transactional touching, the services provided by Tinder and Grindr make the world a better and easier place in which arrangements for the consensual exchange of bodily fluids are rarely more than a few swipes away.

The existence of such technology transformed (the smartphone owning portion of) the world into heaven on earth, a potential paradise of pleasure and an eternal fuckfest where it’s all but guaranteed there’s someone out there whose catalog of fetishes matches your own, and who’s willing to show up at short notice.

It was fun while it lasted. But didn’t you hear that there’s a killer virus going around wiping out the old, the vulnerable, the immune-system compromised, and the diabetic? Not us though. We’re fine.

Door-to-door plague vectors.

Depending on What You’re Trying to Do, Six Feet is So Far Away

“Quarantine,” “lockdown,” and “social distancing” are words we’re familiar with now. We’re coping with restrictions on our daily lives–where we can go, who we can meet, how far away from them we need to stand. It’s two meters (six feet) by the way. That’s the length of a Kawasaki ZXR 750. That’s how far you have to stay away from someone who is not part of your household. Have you ever tried to have sex with someone while maintaining a distance equivalent to an early 90s sports bike? It’s not possible. We’ve tried.

On this side of the Atlantic (the side without the insane weather), we have it bad. Official figures put the death-count due to COVID-19 at 42,000. However excess mortality suggests a bodycount closer to 65,000, making us the worst hit nation on earth per head of population. At the time of writing,  we’re well ahead of the United States even going by the official numbers. Shocking, we know. It makes sense that measures were put in place to slow down the number one candidate for 2020’s “Plague of The Year” title.

If we’re honest, it’s not the “sticking it in a stranger” part that has been illegal, and we apologize for deliberately giving that impression. It was allowing them to leave afterwards. In lockdown Britain, you decide where you’re going to live and you stay there for the duration of the emergency. Foot-long Phil (actually only 11 inches) might be a suitable companion for a few hours, but making the commitment to untangle his rusty pubes from the shower drain for an indefinite period is further than most girls are willing to go.

The law was modified in mid-June, allowing single and horny individuals to merge their so-called social bubbles. They can visit another household and even stay overnight before going home to their own beds. The catch? They can only do this with one other person or household. Our imaginary protagonist can invite Foot-long Phil over as often as she likes, but Average Andy and Dinky Dave still need to stay away. Phil can’t pay a visit to his other girlfriends either. Obviously, this is fantastic for people in an existing relationship who don’t want to make a cohabitation commitment. But for those who prefer their romantic entanglements to-go,” it doesn’t make the lockdown any easier.

Hookup Culture Is (Not Quite) Dead

Meeting up in person is potentially costly, both in terms of government-mandated fines and the ever-nagging weight of the guilt that comes from knowing that you may be playing a part in the death of someone you’ve never even met. The thought that as a result of your actions, some vulnerable oldster may, in a few short weeks, be choking to death with a length of hose down their throat would, in most cases, discourage hose handling of any kind.

Sexy, Muffled Sounds.
Sexy, Muffled Sounds.

But that doesn’t mean that allowing strangers intimate access to your genitalia is banished to the now distant history of the pre-coronavirus era.

In September 2019, barely a week before the virus is now thought to have first infected a human in Wuhan, China, Hong Kong-based teledildonics manufacturer Lovense launched a new forum, Lovense Life. It allowed users to “chat to one another and discuss if they would like to control a toy, have a toy controlled, or share bi-directional control between two toys with a complete stranger.” It’s hookup culture for the quarantine era.

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This one is called Nora. Nora has an 'earthquake' setting.' | Credit- Lovense
This one is called Nora. Nora has an 'earthquake' setting.' | Credit- Lovense

Yep! This Section is About Sex Toys

While the timing of this particular product launch is unfortunate and will have Infowars subscribers screaming at sheeple like us to wake up and smell the lube-scented conspiracy, teledildonics is not a new field. Who here hasn’t found themselves trying to track down an imaginary mosquito in the Poundland queue while the woman in front shivers and quakes and her smirking boyfriend stands at the store entrance, staring at his smartphone?

Lovense was founded in 2009 when the company owner was in a long distance relationship. It provides everything from “standard” rabbits and wands to vibrating butt plugs and oscillating G-spot massagers, all controllable by app from anywhere in the world.

And yes, there have been issues with the software illicitly recording the ambient background noise as users get themselves off. But this potentially just adds to the realism of the virtual hookup. The frisson of danger can potentially enhance the whole sex with strangers experience.

According to Google Trends, interest in teledildonics shot up at the beginning of September 2019.  This probably had more to do with college and universities separating childhood sweethearts than our now favored “sex toy manufacturers deliberately started a pandemic to boost sales” conspiracy theory. It peaked again in the week beginning May 3rd, when US deaths were just shy of 100,000 and the lockdown in the UK was showing no sign of easing.

Searches for “cybersex” peaked at the beginning of February. As an uncomfortable signal that the situation may be returning to normal, UK searches for “Tinder” are higher at the time of writing than they have been at any point in the last 12 months.

But it’s just possible that the existence of smartphone-controlled sex machines may have saved humanity from more mass graves, overflowing hospitals, and another zero added to death counts in the western world.

Because people love to sex, regardless of penalties, danger to themselves, and danger to others. History has shown us that the threat or certainty of disease does not stop properly motivated horny individuals from flouting rules and getting it on whenever possible. People screwed through the European syphilis epidemic of 1494 despite it being known as a sexually transmitted disease. They screwed through AIDS in the 80s and 90s. Mutual masturbation at a range of 1500 miles is as safe as its possible to be, providing you don’t mind the entrusting the sounds of your moaning, writhing orgasm to a hardware manufacturer.

The Dark Side of Cybersex

In the virtual as in the real world, sex with strangers is often unwelcome and is forced onto unwilling victims without their consent. Anecedotal evidence suggests that female inboxes are filling up with unsolicited dick pics. Regardless of your position on sexting, a turgid phallus is not what anyone wants to see when they open their DMs over a bowl of cornflakes on a Sunday morning. We shouldn’t need to say this, but unless someone has specifically requested a dick pic, it’s not cool to send one.

As with all network-connected devices, there’s the ever-present danger of spyware, and of hackers intruding on users’ most private shared moments.

Lovense blamed their app’s unknown recording ability on a minor bug, despite full-length audio files with names such as “tempSoundPlay.3gp” being generated by the app. In 2017, Canadian company Standard Innovation agreed to pay out £2.4m to US users of its We-Vibe vibrator after it emerged that the associated We-Connect app was collecting very private data for market research purposes.

And that’s just the manufacturers. There’s no real way to make absolutely certain that bad actors can’t insert their own code or access the hardware in ways which the designers never imagined.

Malicious code has been making computer hardware catch fire since the 1980s. Imagine what could be done with an internet-enabled oscillating prostate massager.

Hey, chum. These posts don't write themselves. If you wanna stay in the know, it's gotta be a two way street.*

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