Will Snapchat Usher in a New Era of Virtual Sex?
Sexy filters will augment your lover's looks and bring incredible fantasies to life.
The idea of using a digital overlay to alter, or even completely change, the appearance of a sexual partner just got more interesting.
Snapchat as industry leader
Writing for SBS, Jakob Sköte put forth the idea that Snapchat, the popular video and picture sharing app, could become the gateway for people to experiment with augmented reality (AR) for sex.
Snapchat allows users to apply animated filters over images of their faces. These filters can adorn them with accessories like the ever-famous flower crown or make them appear like completely different people or creatures. Some popular options include puppy dog faces with lapping tongues and large anime-style eyes.
Snapchat’s recently released spectacles, glasses that let wearers record still pictures or video clips for the social platform, could further boost the trend’s popularity and bring it deeper into everyday life (including, perhaps, the bedroom).
All sorts of interesting questions
We have already discussed the idea of using virtual reality to alter the appearance of a sex partner, and whether doing so would be considered “cheating.” However, it seemed the sexual possibilities for both VR and AR would come from developers dedicated to creating high-end gear.
But what Sköte points out is that, with the coming mainstream use of augmented reality glasses or even contact lenses, Snapchat is already in the perfect position for people to experiment with digital overlays for sex.
“If you’re just looking for a hook-up, why worry about matching with the right person on Tinder when you could just apply whichever facial filter you want to the first person you swipe right on?” he writes.
Also, he speculates that as celebrities begin to market their appearances, it will become more and more common for users to be able to have a kind of proxy-sex with them, or at least with people wearing their likenesses.
New sexual dimensions
This again raises interesting issues about sex and infidelity. It’s common knowledge that many people fantasize about other people while having sex. But knowing that and learning that your partner is not just imagining but actually seeing someone other than yourself through virtual or augmented technology could bring in a whole new level of realness and perhaps discomfort with the scenario.
Then there’s the question of consent. Fantasies are one thing, but what are the ethics involved in using someone else’s image as a sexy face filter? Must the person give permission to have their likeness overlaid onto another person? And what if your face is superimposed over another partner's? Would that be considered a form of digital sexual assault?
Further down the rabbit hole, there are issues of sexual interests and orientations. If you can make your partner look like anyone, we could be entering an era where people would be able to say that they are “digitally heterosexual” but “physically queer,” meaning that they prefer sex with the same gender but only with the opposite superimposed over their partner.
In this way, we could see a time where the act of sex with filters will have its own scientific and slang terms, and even a new sexual orientation term for folks who prefer this type of erotic play. Imagine new sexual cultures, like digital anime aficionados or virtual furry fans, who prefer to see a new form of reality when they have physical sex.
The path of least resistance
But wherever this leads, one thing is pretty certain: while there are high-end developers working on new ways to use virtual and augmented reality for sex, the largest engine for both experimentation and acceptance will be through much more accessible platforms.
In short, the real change won’t come from rigs costing thousands of dollars but through a ubiquitous—and fun—app, perhaps like Snapchat.