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It was easier to be anonymous on the Internet back then, to flirt and wink and experiment behind purposefully misspelled, sexually charged screennames like seksikittee69 and bigboi17 that weren’t tethered to a public Facebook account.

While technology like group video conferencing existed, it was painfully slow and not readily available.

Rob Weiss, an expert on porn and cybersex addiction, attributes the cybersex boom of the mid-’90s to what he referred to as the three A’s: “accessibility, affordability, and anonymity.” First and foremost, cybersex allowed people to get off without the effort required to obtain pornographic material or find a new partner IRL (in real life), especially if you were taken to begin with.

“It was incredibly powerful for people to be able to go into chat and talk about sex and be sexual without risking their marriages, or their relationships,” noted Weiss, who estimates this practice started exploding around 1996, when AOL was first gaining steam.

Then one day, he started telling me what he wanted to do to me if he met me, and I, picking up on his cues, told him what I (or “Dana”) wanted to do to him.

Of course, I had no idea what I was saying; much of what I said was based on what I had seen on General Hospital and read in Jackie Collins paperbacks.

Chat had never been more expedient or accessible, so it was only a matter of time before people started using it for sex.I was Dana, a name I had lifted from a character on my favorite Purple Moon CD-ROM.Dana was 19, an aspiring veterinarian, and everyone told her she looked like Britney Spears.“Emotional arousal and fantasy are incredibly powerful instruments,” Weiss said.“The idea that you could play out your kinky fantasies and ideas with these strangers across the country who you’d never met, and have them be excited and responsive and engaged, was incredibly exciting to people.” When I surveyed my friends to see if they had had cybersex in AOL chatrooms, nearly all of them remembered having similar experiences, usually with friends.

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