KTU Practical - Online play isn't real, right?

droptokon

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May 19, 2013
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It’s taken you a while but finally you found someone online to play with, they share some of your kinks, are keen to get started and most crucially have agreed to a live chat session where you can have fun together.

Sounds great, they’ve even agreed to send photos so you can see what’s going on. You’re excited and have a bunch of ideas you want to try out but do you really know what you’re doing?

Welcome to the second instalment of the Kink Talk University practical series. This time we are going to carry on with the first meeting theme only this time looking at the differences when that happens online. Again we will be taking the perspective of the dominant partner, hopefully this proves instructive to both doms and subs as I work through the concepts.

Behind every online relationship there are two actual, real, people. This is not a video game, this is not a simulation, this is real life just with a shifted method of interaction. So keeping this front and centre how do you go into this first meeting?

Pretty much the same way you would in a face to face meeting of course. As with my previous discussion on “in person” meets you need to plan what you are doing ahead of time and discuss this with your sub. Right about now a whole bunch of you are thinking, “but I’m the (capital D) Dom, I decide what happens and the sub just has to do it, right?” Wrong, this plan is not a plan at all. For a start how do you know what your sub has available to play with, what their living situation, how much time they have, and so on.

Without understanding the capabilities and limitations of your sub how can you decide what you’re going to do together? Herein lies the major issue facing many if not most online kinky play sessions, lack of coordination and planning. Starting out your long awaited session with, “get a cucumber, what, you don’t have one?” is a shambles and pretty soon the whole thing devolves into a disaster and the sub, quite simply, ghosts you.

So let’s say you’ve had some chats and worked out at least some of the details of what your sub may be able to actually do now what? Do you actually know what you’re going to be asking them to do is safe or even physiologically possible? This is the knowledge test, and knowledge here does not mean you know about something, it means you really know how it is done and all the possible implications.

Many things in the bdsm repertoire involve some kind of risk of either harm or injury if done incorrectly so understanding the risks and how to mitigate them is a crucial part of the learning process. Getting all the parts together isn’t a case of watching and reading enough bdsm porn to build up a wish list of ideas. It’s getting to know the actualities of these things and how they will impact the sub.

But I digress, let’s continue with our long awaited play session.

For this session you’ve agreed on a few things, some “must do’s” and a few optional extras or contingencies. The session begins, you instruct your sub to get naked to start and they comply sending you a photo for proof. You move onto the bondage you’ve carefully researched, this is a nice simple bit of self bondage work pretty much any newbie can master so you’re expecting no problems. But, did you check they have the correct items, rope, etc and some safety scissors on hand?

Never assume things. Always check to make sure your sub is safe and doing things the way you want them done. If they make a mistake here it could go badly, self bondage is a learned skill that requires patience to teach and time to master. Rushing in your eagerness could have big implications.

All is ok, they have their kit laid out and are following your instruction well. This isn’t something you can just take for granted, in the online world you could be dealing with someone who uses a different first language or who struggles with written instructions. Keep the dialogue going at all times, make sure the things they do are the way you want them to happen. This is important from the safety perspective but also from the control perspective.

Last time we touched briefly on topping from the bottom or the more common pushing of pace. In these instances the sub may be trying to rush through something you’ve instructed to get to the juicy bit they like. Unlike the face to face situation this is both harder to monitor and control. As you’re working online with photos in this session you are reliant on the sub providing them and staying true to the task. If they seem to be jumping ahead this is the time to chastise them and make them return to your schedule.

A key part of making any D/s relationship work is establishing and maintaining the roles firmly. This is how the sub build faith and trust in you and your abilities, the more often they diverge from your instruction the less likely the D/s bond will work.

The session is progressing nicely, you get to a key task and then the sub goes silent. Why have they stopped, have they got tied up in the ropes somehow so they can’t type back? Is the task going wrong? Are they in trouble? Uh oh!

This is a classic scenario in online play, and any one of those could be the reason, or their internet died, or someone disturbed them. Or they just got bored and ghosted you.

Fuck.

And here we are, one of the most common complaints about online play. “They just ghosted on me.”

Yes it happens, in fact it happens much more often than any of the other scenarios when the other end just goes dead.

Which is where we loop right back to where I began, these are actual, real, people. Both ways folks, both ways. So when the dom is left hanging not knowing if the sub they have been playing with is tangled in rope, tripped and knocked unconscious, lost their internet or just got bored with you, how do you think that feels? Likewise a sub is doing their best, following instructions, then, nothing. What happened? Did they have a heart attack, lose their internet or just had their wank and got bored with you?

Kinky people are people. Online people are people. All people deserve respect.

If at some point in an online play session you decide it’s not working, you’re not into, things aren’t right, no chemistry, whatever, say so. Have the respect for the other person to say, “Hey, this just isn’t what I hoped for, I need to stop” and you both can quit in a way that shows respect. Maybe you can try again sometime, maybe you just weren’t in the right mood?

Which is a major problem with anything online, things you schedule at a specific time sometimes don’t work out. You had a bad day at work, you came home and the cat had shat on your bed, any number of things. Are you really going to flip into the mood just like that? No.

And then there are the other issues, no body language, no touch, no physical interaction. These are the things that bring a face to face session to another level and will often lift you out of the funk your day put you in.

Ok, so your session didn’t end in being ghosted it went well, really well. You both had fun, your sub was satisfied and is praising and thanking you, is that it? No. Of course not, things don’t just stop like that, you both need some wind down time, debrief time, simple chat and make sure you’re both ok. Mutual respect and consideration goes a long way and strengthens the D/s bond, “what are you having for dinner, are your nipples still sore, what did you think of that?” Small talk it may be but its importance is big.

Again, I’ve skipped a whole load of details that matter to try to give a good overview of the dynamics of the realities of online play. It can be good, it often isn’t but mostly because people don’t take it seriously and give the person on the other side of the screen the respect they deserve.

Many people think online is simpler and easier than face to face, in reality it’s neither of those. The digital disconnect means far more effort is needed to establish a rapport. All the human instinct we rely on is gone, the subtle cues we use daily are missing so we have to type these things out clumsily and very imperfectly. The anonymity creates a sense of remoteness that allows us treat others as less human, less real, less deserving of our respect.

Don’t fall for this non reality phantasm, the people you play with are very real. If you want to have good, meaningful, fulfilling online play sessions treat them seriously, put the effort in. It’s real work, but real people deserve that effort, don’t they?
 
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