For now I'd like to get back to the late 1990s, when typed IMs were still fairly new and quite exciting.
This was also about the time "chat rooms" were getting started.
For those unfamiliar with chat rooms, they are places where multiple users type and post messages that can be seen by all the others "in the room." Most chat rooms are intended to have participants talk about a particular subject such as, say, movies or sports or politics or vintage cars or gardening or raising kids. Not surprisingly, there are "adult" chat rooms where conversations revolve around sex and relationships.
One thing common to all chat rooms is that participants get to know one another very quickly. If you find something interesting in what another is posting, you can post a reply and begin a two-way conversation that may or may not have anything to do with what the other chatters are chatting about. This can lead to setting up a "private chat room" which is basically the same as two people exchanging IMs. However, you can invite someone else into a private chat room and have — shall we say — a ménage a trois — or whatever you can handle.
A rather embarrassing "private chat room" story can be seen here: Chat Room Cat.
Anyway, some of this chatting and exchanging of IMs quickly evolved into a new phenomenon called "cyber sex."
In case you are unfamiliar with the concept, cyber sex (or cybersex) is where two people (well, usually two) take turns telling what they would "do with each other" in, say, a motel room or on a deserted beach on a romantic, moonlit night.
These days there are youngsters who have been familiar with the concept of cyber sex from a very early age, and I'm not here to debate the pros and cons of the subject. I just hope all parents of computer-using kids have knowledge of and control over what their children are allowed to do with their machines.
We've all heard horror stories of kids being victimized by online predators who pretend to be
"just another kid" wanting to meet and become friends with "other nice kids."
However, what I'm writing about here is a variety of experiences that involved consenting adults, many of whom could be called "middle-aged" or "seniors."
By now you are probably wondering how I happen to be acquainted with any of this "cyber" stuff. Well, it all came about quite accidentally. I'll begin at the beginning.
I've been using computers since 1977, when I bought a gadget called the TRS80 Model I "microcomputer" at my local Radio Shack. I was instantly hooked, and have been having nothing but fun with computers ever since.
(Here's a little poem about that first computer.)
One of the first things I discovered about computers was that they made writing easier. I had always wanted to write, and found an outlet for my efforts when I formed a computer users group in 1991 and began writing a monthly newsletter for the club. Shortly thereafter I began writing a PC column for our local newspaper, and continued doing so when the periodical was bought by a large newspaper conglomerate.