The author of "John Dies at the End", David Wong, once said, "New technology is not good or evil in and of itself. It's all about how people use it." Technology is frequently divorced from intention. But behind technology are people. That is where technology's usefulness and ethics rise or fall.
We can categorize technology used for our kinky lives into four groupings: social media; applications; information sites; and toys/gear. The first three blend in various ways depending on their design and usage, but the categories are convenient for discussion. Add a new genre of tech-powered toys and gear and you have an array of technologies now integral to any active kinksters life.
Being a luddite is now a detriment. Modern kinksters avoid embracing technology at their peril.
Some social media platforms are not friendly to kink, or sexuality generally. Those who dance amid the sexually adventurous must avoid running afoul of narrowly defined terms of service.
When it comes to sex, prudes and censors suddenly appear. We kinksters learn quickly what we can and cannot do online, or we are throttled or banned from whatever mainstream service on which we misstep.
Since many of these platforms are headquartered in the United States, sex-negative laws along with a prudish national culture affect what the world can see and discuss online about sex, which is a travesty.
As Violet Blue wrote in a 2019 article about such censorship, "I don't know what would've happened if the internet could've been allowed to continue without the war on sex. But I know it wouldn't be the terrible place of anxiety and fear we're in now."
Humans are creative creatures. Kinksters are among the most creative. Our entire subculture is predicated on innovative thinking. We have figured out how to utilize mainstream platforms to share information, promote events, and connect, even if we must sanitize images and use euphemistic language.
Hookup apps and sites sometimes have a single usage but can also be hybrids. Recon's origins as a hookup service but venturing into blog and video content is an example of a hybrid. Some apps/sites deal strictly in information and entertainment while others focus on connection functionality. In this tech realm, the kinky can consume, post, and communicate as they wish with relative freedom.
It might seem self-serving since I am publishing on Recon, but as we must financially support our bars, events, and businesses, we must also support online spaces like Recon that allow us to discuss our sexualities openly and honestly.
I believe kink and sexuality focused services are the future of online kink. I do not have high hopes that big tech companies will err on the side of uncensored content. They will always want to appease their mainstream customer base.
Information and entertainment sites offer educational and instructional material, erotic stories and videos, and other consumable content. I guess you could include kink retailers among these services as well.
Ultimately, all these online opportunities can benefit us. If there is a downside to any of them, especially the bigger mainstream platforms, it is the negativity that can be fostered through a few caustic voices who make it their mission to trash anyone that runs afoul of their kink worldview.
Negatives aside, these services, from the early days of simple chat systems and bulletin boards to the modern web and app incarnations, have connected, educated, and informed sexual adventurers beyond anything that could have occurred without them. They have ultimately been a significant net positive for our scene.
Finally, among the newest implementations of technology – toys and gear. Here is where we are seeing kinksters and the businesses catering to them elevating our play to new levels we might never have imagined just a few years ago.
My own initial forays into tech-powered sexual pleasure started shortly after discovering masturbation, I began to incorporate my father's electric scalp massager to blow a load. Later I would learn that vibrators were invented in the 1880s as a labor-saving device for doctors who at the time would give women a "pelvic massage" to induce "hysterical paroxysm" (orgasm) for perceived maladies. It was erroneously believed this would restore women to full health. Vibrators in various forms have certainly produced countless orgasms since!
While vibrating toys have been around for a while, the next technological jump was the remote-controlled buttplug. Initially these were simple vibrating buttplugs activated by a wired controller. Quickly, clever designers activated the plugs by wireless handheld controllers. On several occasions while standing in a leather bar I have witnessed a guy jump as someone nearby turned on the buttplug inserted in him earlier. Always makes me chuckle.
Beyond vibrators, the ultraviolet wand was the next technology I saw adapted for kink. The wand had origins in the cosmetology industry and emerged as an easily pervertible device tingling skin in BDSM scenes with its crackling blue light. Today you can find wands manufactured specifically for erotic use.
About the same time ultraviolet wands entered BDSM scenes another electrical device, the passive electric massager, came on the market and kink folks immediately saw its potential. Whether it was using the pads that came with the machines to make a squirming bottom's muscles twitch or modifying the charge delivery to jolt the cock and balls, such devices became popular.
A medical device named TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), created to relieve pain by using mild electrical current, ushered in more portability. They were essentially smaller versions of the larger passive electric massage devices. Contemporary gear designers now make variations of these devices with cock, ball, and buttplug attachments specifically for sexual play. This is often referred to as "e-stim" play.
Speaking of buttplugs, a range of vibrating plugs are sold that can be controlled from anywhere over the internet using the associated app and private access code. The same remote-control ability has been given to vibrating cock sheaths as well.
Fuck machines take the buttplug concept further by mechanically fucking with the stamina no guy could match. Some of these machines can also be controlled remotely. I recently got the code to a friend's fuck machine, and we had a fun cam session.
In technology circles everyone knows about Moore's Law, Gordon E. Moore's 1965 postulation that now refers to the number of transistors on a microchip doubling every two years. I contend the same will continue to happen with our kink tech gear.
During the last International Mr. Leather (IML) weekend I watched two hunks arrive at a dance in harnesses, boots, and jocks. On the front of their harnesses were built-in, programmable digital displays declaring one a DOM and the other SUB, scrolling like a retail store's sign repeatedly across their chests. After learning these were sold in the IML vendor market, I was tempted to get one, and still might.
A friend turned me on to a few other clever uses of technology for kink. There are locks that can be unlocked remotely. These offer unique remote bondage opportunities. There are chastity devices that can be unlocked remotely too. But as demonstrated during a recent incident in which such chastity devices were maliciously hacked, requiring the wearer to have the device carefully removed, even the best of technology can go awry.
In one of the more creative uses of technology, a friend told me that he sometimes has his sub sit still before he remotely activates his sub's home security motion sensor system, the dom now alerted should the sub move. Highly restrictive bondage without an inch of rope, chain, or leather. Brilliant.
Perhaps the natural evolution of sex technology will be robots. I know they seem unlikely to replicate anything but the most rudimentary of movements or sensations but imagine when lifelike robots can be programmed with robust BDSM, kink, and sexual skills. A Recon profile in the future might say, "If you want a 3-way, I have a Series 4 Acme Sex Robot fully capable of more than 1,000 erotic skills who can join us."
In the meantime, whether it is using websites, apps, or tech gear, never forget that no matter what innovations might be available or sold by your favorite purveyor of kink accoutrement, there is no replacement for looking into the eyes of your partner and using the greatest of kink technologies, your imaginative brain.
If you'd like to share a fetish or kink experience in a member article, send your ideas or a first draft to: email@example.com