The internet changed it all. It can be a force for good and a force for bad, but more importantly it can be a force for filling your life with fetish goodness. Whether interacting with guys on Twitter, browsing Tumblr for hot pics and gifs, or meeting guys through Recon, the internet opened up fetish to the entire world. There are questions that will always remain, though, such as how open do we want it to be when it relates to us personally? How much of ourselves do we want to put out there on social media, and are the parameters of what we consider acceptable broadening?
Social media allows us to interact with other fetish men in ways that we're still getting a handle on. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram keep expanding the avenues for connecting with other men, but it's not just other men who we might be connecting with us. When you fire something off into the ether you lose control of who sees it and what they do with it. It's the chance we take every time we post a geared-up pic on Facebook or play pics on Twitter. More and more guys are becoming increasingly emboldened to do so, though, as more men than ever are taking the opportunity to fully show their fetish to the world.
When you post a pic on social, do you always consider who might get eyes on it? I know I don't. For the longest time, the extent my family knew about my job was a vague 'in marketing', and to some 'gay dating'. This all changed when I posted pics of myself in rubber on Instagram – something I'd resisted for a long time, but in the end thought 'fuck it'. As it happens, I'd forgotten my Auntie was following me. Being who she is, the news spread like wildfire through my family. Fortunately, having spent my life as the proverbial black sheep, the news shuck no one, and everyone carried on, business as usual. It did serve as a reminder, though, that the audience you intend to see your stuff may not always be the audience who takes note of it.
It's also not just family members we might unwittingly share with. When asked if his social media accounts were set to private, Recon member Archimedes told me "My twitter is usually set to public but recently after the Liberal Democrats [A political party in the UK] re-tweeted me during the election, I did have to temporarily lock my account." The tweet he'd sent was innocuous enough, but he'd sent it from his kink account (@ArchieAlpha) "Either they didn't care that it was a fetish account or they didn't notice. Either way I wasn't taking the risk. I started getting loads of re-tweets and knew it could end badly." The lesson he said he learned from this was not to talk about politics with hashtags from his kink account. This may seem like an obvious lesson, but it's an easy mistake to make when you have multiple accounts on each platform – as many fetish men do. Some might not be too bothered about who sees what they post, but these things can take on a life of their own in unexpected ways, as Archimedes will attest.
Setting accounts to 'private' isn't always a guarantee that you get to control the story either. Member niarolf had this to say on the matter, "I hate it when people share my pics without permission. I have a private account and I'm very selective about my followers, but sometimes I find my pics on Facebook or Tumblr. That's why I hesitate to post things sometimes."
When it comes to pausing before posting, not everyone shares this view, though. "I never hesitate" says heroicpoemofapup (@HeroicPup on Twitter), "I am, and always will be, aware of what I'm sharing. There can be consequences - even some I can't imagine - but for now I go with 'YOLO' and 'no regrets'. It's important to have a positive way of thinking."
I think there's a reasonable argument to be had for both approaches. On the one hand, we should all feel free to share our fetishes without recrimination – should we choose to – on the other, the possible societal consequences might outweigh the desire to do so.
As social media becomes more and more ingrained in our lives, I think we become more open about ourselves, at least in a structured way – we all choose the 'me' we want to show, after all. I know that, as time goes on, I feel more comfortable sharing geared up pics on my social channels. For me, though, this may just be the fact that, with my job, it's hardly going to bite me in the arse, Hell, it's pretty much beneficial. Not everyone's this fortunate.
And it isn't just ourselves we should consider when posting online, as member kenf (@kenflaw) says when asked if there's anything he wouldn't share "Information about other people without their permission - even if it's hilarious. Anything detrimental to someone else". It's one thing to take ownership of our own fetish and how we share it, but we also need to make sure what we share is within the comfort levels of anyone else included.
Despite a few recent political setbacks, I still think society is becoming a more accepting place. I think social media is in part responsible for this. Yes, it spreads hate as readily as it spreads openness, but strides are being made. The internet leaves almost nothing left taboo, and when everything's out there to be accessed, it diminishes any real shock factor. We just have to weigh up the pros and cons of what we're sharing in relation to ourselves and anyone else involved, and the impact it may or may not have.
If you have any thoughts on the subject, or have any experiences – good or bad - of sharing fetish on social media, get in touch through Recon Twitter or by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org