This month’s feature at For The Girls is about cybersex. It’s a fairly general article that looks at the appeal of one handed typing and discusses some of the negative issues like whether it constitutes cheating.
The article proved difficult to research thanks to the bazillion Christian-based sites out there raving about the terrible dangers of cybersex and how it’s always “addictive” and ruins relationships.
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I spent over an hour trying to find reliable statistics about how many people on average were engaging in cybersex. What should have been a relatively simple bit of research was hugely complicated thanks to the plethora of conservative-based sites pushing their own agenda about “addiction.” A lot of them were happily throwing statistics around that I was unable to use thanks to the taint of bias.
In the end I resorted to search strings like “cybersex statistics -christian -addiction -addict -danger” just to try and find some stats I could quote. It was the same when I was trying to hunt down an expert to discuss the issues: there’s a lot of talking heads out there who aren’t terribly balanced when it comes to sex or porn.
I wasn’t trying to write a pro-cybersex article. I may have my own biases but when writing a feature I do like to at least aim for a balanced presentation of the issues. And this may be why I was feeling so frustrated. The Christians and the conservatives have put a lot of effort into flooding the internet with sites about “the dangers of cybersex/porn addiction” and unfortunately the sheer number of them seem to be pushing out alternative voices.
And it’s worrying that the stuff they are pushing is so extreme: ALL cybersex is bad, ALL porn is addictive and exploitative. These sites don’t hesitate to misuse surveys or statistics to get their point across. And it means that someone who may be struggling with bad habits in relation to cybersex or porn use (and I don’t deny that this happens to some people) will only encounter the extremist Christian message on this topic.
Google doesn’t have a filter for bias but sometimes I wish they did.