A few months ago , acclaimed German artist and visual activist SaySay.Love reached out and invited me to consider creating an event for his upcoming Exhibition, “Intimate Loneliness /Sex with Things”, at the Gus Gallery, Stellenbosch , 30th January.
Like a well trained automated bot, I reached for my device and googled. And did an In Real Life “wow” when I saw the art SaySAy.Love was exhibiting . Mannequins.. mannequins photographed and chosen by him as they represent naked perfection. You know – that perfection for which we strive when creating our digital identities. Mannequins to showcase how we develop connections, attachments and relationships with inanimate objects , such as our devices… and dare I say, sex toys.
Are they real attachments? real intimacy? The truth is we sit in ultimate silence and aloneness both online and In Real Life. Actually we as humans suffer the consequences of these inanimate attachments.
In Real Life we have disconnected more and more from real people , even have less sex, as we are just too preoccupied with our online personas , and hell, who actually wants to navigate the grey and uncertain dating waters online . Masturbation and porn will do nicely thank you. It is way easier to sext with your In Real Life partner or stranger than actually negotiate In Real Life for the kind of sex and intimacy you really desire. And you end up asking yourself : “Why do I feel so lonely?”
The mannequins exemplify the loneliness, emptiness, despair, hopelessness that people feel. SaySay.Love states : “As humans we are becoming more disconnected from each other , which I feel is a result of the digital age”.
Without hesitation , I said yes to the invitation . And so began weeks of brainstorming with the artist and his team and my own personal research, both online and In Real Life.
I was most curious about my client’s loneliness and how it impacted on their intimacy . And, vitally, how they were using their devices, specifically #sextech ,to soothe and manage their feelings of loneliness.
What I learned is that our devices and #sextech lead to loneliness. And loneliness drives us into #sextech world,
In other words there is a bidirectional relationship between loneliness and #sextech. Why, I wondered, have we become the loneliest people ever in a time when there is the highest connectivity options?
I ask you to consider your relationship with your loneliness , intimacy and how devices play a role towards these feelings:
* Does your striving for digital perfection – those posed dick pics, enhanced butt and breast exposures, face modifications- increase your sense of hopelessness, despair and loneliness .. or connection?
* Do you feel you have sufficient rich and intimate engagement with humans In Real Life?
* How does your online intimacy compare to your In Real Life intimacy?
* Do you have any of these signs of loneliness: I depend primarily on social media for connection, infidelity /cyber infidelity, unhealthy risky sexual and social behaviour , depression, anxiety?
* Do you binge on series as an attempt to replace lost human connection?
* Does your fear of rejection drive you online rather than connecting intimately In Real Life?
* Do you live in a click-and -collect lifestyle? This means you reduce your chances of meeting and connecting In Real Life as you receive deliveries to your door.
* Do you reach for a sex toy /masturbation in preference to reaching for an In Real Life human?
In summary, what is your relationship with your devices?
Loneliness is a world wide epidemic. Attending to loneliness is vital as it leads to physical and mental challenges such as sleeplessness, depression , anxiety, reduced immune functioning. So serious is this epidemic that Theresa May, British Prime Minister, appointed a Minister of Loneliness. Now there is awareness that loneliness is a state of mind , even when you are surrounded by people.
Turning to your device for connection and intimacy increases the sense of loneliness, despair and hopelessness. Besides feeling disappointed with the resultant outcome of a cyberchat, cybersex, cyberflirt, as it is mostly superficial, artificial and constructed to please, it reduces your opportunities for everyday In Real Life interactions as online is so time consuming. Humans long to be seen , touched, smelt and held, mostly just held .
GUIDELINE TO AVOID LONELINESS:
1. Accept you are lonely.. and reach out In Real Life for connection , without shame
2. More than ever people live alone , have breakdown in families , no longer belong to a community. One way of combatting this loneliness is connecting with like minded people, namely other lonely people.
3. Fear of rejection is a killer. It shuts you down to social and personal intimacy. & connection . Improve your self esteem by making a list of things you value about yourself.
4. Tech allows you to chat more freely – on an App, dating site, to your partner, even to a stranger. Yet science shows that we feel more lonely. Feeling lonely is when you most need human contact. Call a friend voice to voice.
5. Chat to your every day contacts, such as the uber driver, barista, taxi or bus driver, housekeeper, distance PA. They provide important support to you if you feel lonely and isolated.
6. People are hooked on each other .. not on tech. Use tech for positive connecting interactions. It allows you to freely reach to family , knowledge , entertainment . And intimate conversations. Take advantage of tech to develop more consensual intimacy.
7. Avoid pure shallow conversations , stay longer so you can deepen intimate conversations. Don’t depend on social media platforms as your primary source of human contact
8. Social media creates the illusion that these are solid, real, significant friendships. They are unable to meet needs, demands and pressures – and pleasures – that exist In Real Life relationships.
9. Allow yourself “solitude”. Time alone without digital devices. It may be uncomfortable . Sit thought the discomfort. Meet people Face to Face.
10. Take a step back from tech when you want to date. Use tech to facilitate meeting people- not as your only form of connection. Engaging In Real Life activities heightens your chances of meeting people.
Join SaySay.Love and me on Wednesday 30th January at Gus Gallery, Stellenbosch. Immerse yourself in this experience . All welcome . Entrance is free.