Securing Sexuality is the podcast and conference promoting sex positive, science based, and secure interpersonal relationships. We give people tips for safer sex in a digital age. We help sextech innovators and toy designers produce safer products. And we educate mental health and medical professionals on these topics so they can better advise their clients. Securing Sexuality provides sex therapists with continuing education (CEUs) for AASECT, SSTAR, and SASH around cyber sexuality and social media, and more.
Links from this week's episode:
Exploring Sapiosexuality in the Digital Age, Hacker Cons, Love Letters, and Ephemeral Messaging
The digital age has ushered in a new era of relationships, and with it, a new term: sapiosexuality. Sapiosexuality is defined as an attraction to intelligence or the ability to think critically. This type of attraction is becoming increasingly popular among millennials and Gen Zers, who are more likely to prioritize intellectual compatibility over physical appearance when looking for a partner.
But what does this mean for our relationships in the digital age?
How can we protect our data while still enjoying the benefits of technology?
First, let's take a look at how technology has impacted relationships. Technology has made it easier than ever before to connect with potential partners from all over the world. Online dating sites have become increasingly popular, allowing users to search for compatible matches based on their interests and preferences.
Social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat have also made it easier for people to connect with each other on an emotional level by sharing photos and stories about their lives. At the same time, technology has also changed how people interact with each other in person. Smartphones have become ubiquitous, making it easy for people to stay connected even when they're not together physically.
Texting and video calls are now commonplace tools used by couples who want to stay connected even when they're apart geographically or temporally. The rise of sapiosexuality is closely linked to these changes in how people interact with each other online and offline.
As mentioned earlier, sapiosexuals prioritize intelligence over physical appearance when looking for a partner; they are attracted not only by someone's looks but also by their intellect or ability to think critically about complex topics or ideas.
This type of attraction is particularly common among millennials and Gen Zers who grew up surrounded by technology; they value intellectual compatibility more than physical appearance because they understand that relationships require more than just physical chemistry in order for them to last long-term.
However, there are some risks associated with relationships in the digital age that must be taken into consideration before engaging in online dating apps or social media platforms: data privacy concerns must be addressed if you want your personal information protected from potential hackers or malicious actors online who may use your data without your consent or knowledge (e.,g., identity theft).
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take right now that will help protect your data while still enjoying all the benefits that come along with exploring sapiosexuality online: - Use strong passwords: Make sure you use strong passwords on all your accounts (e.,g., email accounts) so that no one can easily guess them; avoid using words from a dictionary as passwords since these can be easily guessed by hackers using automated programs designed specifically for this purpose (e.,g., brute force attacks). - Be aware of phishing scams: Be wary of emails asking you for personal information such as credit card numbers or bank account details; never click on links sent via email unless you know where they lead too – if something looks suspicious then don't open it! - Use two-factor authentication: Whenever possible enable two-factor authentication on all your accounts so that even if someone does manage to guess your password they won't be able access them without having access to both codes sent via text message/email/etc..
This extra layer of security will make sure no one else can access your account without permission from yourself first! - Keep software up-to-date: Make sure all software installed on devices used regularly (e.,g., smartphones) is kept up-to-date so any security vulnerabilities present within older versions can be patched quickly before malicious actors exploit them – many companies release regular updates which contain important security fixes so make sure these get installed ASAP! - Don’t share too much information publicly: Avoid sharing too much personal information publicly – things like home address/phone number should never be shared unless absolutely necessary since this could potentially lead hackers straight into someone’s home if stolen!
Also try not to post anything online which could potentially reveal where someone works/lives etc.. - Use secure networks whenever possible: When connecting devices wirelessly, always make sure secure networks (e.,g., WPA2) are used instead of open ones since these offer better protection against malicious actors trying to gain access through unsecured connections! Avoid connecting devices directly via USB ports unless absolutely necessary since this could potentially allow malware onto systems very quickly without user knowledge/consent!
In conclusion, exploring sapiosexuality in the digital age comes with its own set of risks but also offers many rewards if done correctly – understanding how technology impacts relationships is key here since understanding both sides will help ensure everyone involved stays safe while still enjoying all benefits associated with finding love online!
By following best practices outlined above anyone interested should feel confident enough knowing their data remains secure while still being able explore potential partners intellectually through various means available today such as social media platforms/dating apps etc..
Hello and welcome to Securing Sexuality, the podcast where we discuss the intersection of intimacy and information security. I'm Wolf Goerlich.
He's a hacker. And I'm Stefani Goerlich.
She's a sex therapist and together we're going to discuss what safe sex looks like in a digital age.
And today what we're looking at is what?
Is our trip to...
We have been going on way too many trips recently.
But I think we were going to roll the last month when we were, you know, we took December off, right?
We had been putting on an episode a week for the second half of 2022 and we took December as a sabbatical, which doesn't necessarily mean that we did anything restful because we were at GalaxyCon in Columbus. We attended a sexual health alliance training in Jamaica.
One of the themes that came up in all of our travels is this idea of sapiosexuality, which is what, baby?
Oh, it's what we do, baby. It's the love and attraction towards someone for what they know, how they think. It's a big sexy brain. Big sexy brain. There you go.
And this term is relatively new, right?
I mean, it came out within my lifetime at least.
Yeah, absolutely. So the first person to talk about sapiosexuality was Darren Stelder. He coined the term back in 1998 to describe his own sexuality. And that makes sense because he was an engineer. That makes perfect sense that a left brain solutions focused individual would be drawn to other people who exhibit a certain degree of intelligence.
He said, I want an incisive, inquisitive, insightful, irreverent mind. I want someone for whom philosophical discussion is foreplay. That's a lot of I words.
Oh, but they're good ones. They're good ones.
You know, and what's fascinating about that, we've talked about this and we saw that at GalaxyCon.
What's fascinating about that is, you know, if you take it back to the animal level, right?
If you take it back to like the crows who bring this shiny sparkle things home to attract mates or the folks who are or the beavers who build the big dams or anyone, right?
It's that sort of thing that I'm collecting something, something that I find attractive, something I find interesting, and I'm willing to share it with you. And I thought that was intriguing at GalaxyCon because people are like, this is what I know. This is what I've learned here. Let me share a fact, you know, and that's how people were forming friendships. That's how possibly people were forming more.
That idea that by knowing something, sharing something, you can become a little closer. And I think that that's something that resonates with us because that's a huge part of how you and I first sort of bonded when we started dating. We courted by doing a conference talk together, which is not something you hear a lot of the time, I think. I suspect we might have been unique in that.
And the idea that one feels a bond, one feels an attraction, not necessarily based on appearances or on pheromones, but on witty banter is something that resonates with me for sure. And I suspect it's my husband with you as well.
Yeah, so though I'm a big pheromone freak, it's well known.
Yeah, it certainly does.
So, you know, I shared the example of people at Comic-Con and we saw it in like every single line for every single thing.
Oh, did you see this episode?
Oh, did you see that?
Oh, did you know this?
Right. I shared that as an example.
Do you have another example that you've seen in our whirlwind December?
I think one of the things that's been most interesting because we've been in a lot of environments where some artful undressing is a part of the environment, right?
Whether that's the world of cosplay, which often involves either taking a fictional character to the yards and yards of fabric Victorian style visiting dress or to the other extreme of a couple inches of fabrics and turning a costume into something much more skimpy, much more seductive. And then being in Jamaica where it's a beach environment and everybody's in bathing suits or short sundresses or what have you.
The idea that even in environments that allow for such, I'm going to say objectification, but I mean that in a more positive way. It allows the opportunity to skim a crowd and identify quickly who you find attractive and who you don't based on external aesthetics.
In both of those environments, what we found were people bonding over conversation and bonding over maybe not trivia per se, but facts and knowledge and flirting by sharing their intelligence with one another in a way that I thought was really cool to watch. Yeah. And sometimes that's dropping an anecdote and whatnot. Sometimes that's sharing a fact or sharing a link. Sometimes it's introducing someone to something new. And sometimes people can overshoot.
I remember, for example, I was walking with you at Comic Con and a guy walked by and it bothered me. It bugged me. It bugged me. And I am a passing fan of Star Trek. I've seen every episode of every program out there. A passing fan. A passing fan.
And this gentleman was wearing, and anyone who knows it will immediately cringe, he was wearing the first season outfit, right?
The first season of Next Generation's uniform, but he was wearing a Picard show combatch, which in the universe is separated by 30, 35 years of time. I think it's 2364 to 2399 or something like that. And I was saying that to you. I was like, and the look you gave me, I felt like I grew another head.
I mean, let's be clear, sapiosexuality isn't just, ooh, that guy knows stuff. It's got to be stuff the other person finds intriguing. And I don't know necessarily that your deep Picard knowledge was quite the turn on that you had perhaps hoped in that moment.
So that is one thing to be aware of, right?
The fact that somebody calls themselves a sapiosexual doesn't necessarily mean that IQ alone is going to turn them on. You still have to have a meeting of like-minded areas of interest. I'm sure there were dozens, if not hundreds, of women at GalaxyCon that would have sat at your feet and listened to you pontificate about whatever the heck it was you just said for hours and been fascinated. But that's not me.
That's not the way my brain is wired.
Should we try?
Should we try an experiment?
Does it involve me listening to more Star Trek fanfics?
No, I think you're off the hook.
But you bring up a good point, right?
There does need to be a starting point of commonality, which is one of the nice things about interest specific conferences, be it a hacker con, be it one of your conferences, be it a comic con, you have a starting point that people are in that fandom or in that interest.
I mean, would you call your stuff a fandom?
I don't know. It's your career. I wouldn't say fandom.
I mean, it's an academic discipline for sure.
I do think that there are conferences where it could be considered a fandom, right?
Things like Sex Down South or the beloved dearly departed Thunder of the Mountains. Those are or were events that drew not just academics or mental health providers, but also everyday people that were just fascinated by a particular subject around sexuality and sexual health. So there are definitely people who would say they're sex nerds or they are relationship geeks.
But in my world, I don't know that we would refer to my profession as a fandom per se. I think I'm going to start referring to my profession as a fandom just until someone stops me. One of the things that has always been interesting to watch as because I wasn't somebody that went to conferences before you and I met.
I went to one or two over the years that my work would send me to and that was about it. And so when I started going to events with you, I will admit to a certain degree of surprise at how often people were hooking up at tech conferences or at hacker conferences. And now it makes so much more sense to me because people are sharing their skill. They're demonstrating their maker ability.
They're talking about really rich, deep niche subjects with other people that are just as passionate about that niche as they are. And it makes sense that at a certain point, those conversations are going to stop feeling like water cooler conversations and start feeling a little bit more like flirting.
So we've got a couple things there then, right?
So first off, it has to be a shared interest. I'm slowly as we talk, building in my mind the framework of sapiosexuality.
So first it has to be a shared interest, right?
Don't talk Star Trek to my wife.
I mean, you can, but she's not going to like it. Then it has to be a degree of proficiency, a degree of skill.
It makes me think almost of the levels of power, right?
Which doesn't necessarily pertain to seduction. But if you have knowledge, that's a form of power. If you're able to accomplish something, you have a skill, that's a form of power.
If it ties into something, right?
Like if you have a good comic book collection, that says something about your economic power of nothing else. Because these things are no longer as cheap as they were when I was a wee lad.
Is it also like demonstrating that, right?
It's a little bit of chest thumping on the male side. I don't know what the female version of that would be, but a little bit of chest thumping on the male side. I think that that's accurate on both sides. I think that competency is sexy. Everybody wants to have their partner or the person that they're dating surprise them with a dinner.
But if that dinner is burnt and over salted and still somehow raw on the inside, that quickly stops becoming a romantic fantasy and turns into maybe a relationship deal breaker if nothing else, a nasty case of food poisoning. It's not enough to just share an interest. You got to be good at it.
I think one of the things that we saw over all of the events that we've been to recently is the people that are really good at what they do are the ones that were showing up. You could sit in a hallway at GalaxyCon and watch some really amazing construction walk by whether that's a costume or a mock-up of a fantasy weapon or any number of other things.
You could catch talks on everything from ghost hunting to astrology to yes, Star Trek and everything else.
Oh, and the author of Tribbles. You got to meet your favorite Star Trek author, which again, this conversation not doing you any favors and winning me over. But you're right. The guy that came up with Tribbles was there. It's not my favorite author, but it's one of the authors that I do respect. Now I don't fanboy though.
It's not like I got in line and was like, let me get an autograph and a photo with everybody. That's not my style. To your point about cooking, I do want to just go on record thanking you for surviving my boiled vegetables early on. You are very good at cooking as long as that cooking style is boiled. Truly.
I mean, that's a great example of how it's not just niche skill, right?
It's about being well-rounded and it's about having the competency to back up whatever that niche interest is. And that is what we saw over and over again in our travels. And whether, I mean, the event that we were at with Shaw was a great chance to sit and have these really in-depth conversations around these niche communities or practices or modalities of care in working with clients across the sexuality spectrum.
And I know that that wasn't necessarily something that you had gotten to experience firsthand before. The intelligence is the starting point of sapiosexuality, but the ability to apply that intelligence effectively is what really sells the deal.
And I think this gets back to technology, right?
Now, obviously one of the things we talked about hacker cons, it's, hey, what can you make that technology do?
How skilled are you at getting a piece of technology to do something it's not supposed to do?
How can you bypass or modify or make your own?
How can you demonstrate your mastery of this material?
So certainly that's a big part of it.
However, specific with technology, do you think that our way of making relationships these days is leading to a greater degree of sapiosexuality?
And I'll tell you why I asked that was recently saw an ad for improving my DM game. There's apparently a workshop that men can take to really get your DM game up.
And A, I was unaware that I was supposed to have a DM game.
And B, I'm not sure what they were proposing it to me.
But do you think that the way we meet today is increasing sapiosexuality?
Because a lot of it starts off with text-based conversations. I definitely do. I think that grammar has become foreplay in a way that people perhaps would not have thought of in the 80s and 90s.
And we are with online dating and with dating profiles, especially with the swipey apps, right?
The Bumbles, the Tinders, the hinges. We don't have to read an entire profile before we swipe right or swipe left. And those muscle movements become so quick that I have many times had friends or clients tell me I didn't really process what it said until after I'd already swiped left and then I was kicking myself.
So we are making these evaluations of other people based on a very, very quick assessment of their language use, of the interests that they choose to prioritize in describing themselves, in the way that they're writing, in the word choice that they use. And all of those are one aspect of intelligence.
Mental intelligence is only one of many, but it's interesting to me to see just how important language and language usage has become in the courtship process, especially because we're not really a phone culture anymore. Even once you make it past the swipey app, you're still probably much more likely to be writing to one another in text than you are to be talking on the phone.
And the way that people use words and language and the way that they construct their simple text messages, I do agree with you, is filtering towards sort of a more sapiosexual match process than we might have seen years ago when somebody could woo you with words over the phone without ever needing to prove to you that they could spell the topics that they're talking to you about.
Well see, I wasn't even thinking about the picture side.
I was thinking post that, right?
Because so much of dating for like the baby boomer generation was whoever was near you, really, who's in your town or that you see every day, that you catch their eye and then you muster the courage to ask them out. And you don't necessarily know much about a person other than where they're going and where they live at that point in time.
So I was thinking post the swipe, but those first couple days, those first couple weeks of messaging, oh, you like this?
I like that.
What about this?
Let me tell you a joke.
You know, it's interesting to me to see like the dad jokes return and the clever humor return. And one can argue whether or not a dad joke counts as clever humor.
But you start to see that on the rise, right?
It's those first couple exchanges trying to get someone's attention and keep someone's attention. I could see that too. I hadn't necessarily thought about the word play piece or the proximity piece, but you are right.
And it used to be that if you lived in a small town in rural, I don't know, Missouri, and you wanted to run away to Harvard and major in French philosophy, the people around you were probably not necessarily going to connect to that goal in a way that being able to find other French philosophy fans online would. And so you're right. There is expanded access. There is expanded community.
And then there's also this, how are we evaluating and weighing the people that we interact with once we find them?
And I do think both of those are lending themselves towards a more sapiosexual evolution for us as a culture. Which works out great for me because I don't have a motorcycle. But you do have a big sexy brain. Thank you. I like yours too.
What are you doing after this podcast?
Probably taking a nap with you.
Honestly, I could probably go for a nap right now. Wasn't exactly what I had in mind, but you could talk me into it.
Now, when we think about these DMs though, another thing that I'm concerned about is, all right, so sapiosexuality, we want to have knowledge, we want to have skill, we want to have an overlap, we want to use that knowledge and skill to be like, here's something shiny, right?
Exchange of memes, exchange of facts, exchange of data in our relationship, the exchange of research papers.
One of my concerns is where are these messages being held?
We recently had this movement from one social media platform to another, many of us going to Mastodon. And one of the conversations that many security people have been having is, be aware that at Mastodon, your messages are not encrypted. And one of the things that many people have become aware of on many of these platforms is be aware that these messages may be kept or may be stored.
One of the things that concerns me is that this courtship ritual, hey, let me tell you about Kong badges. This courtship ritual being transmitted in a way that previously you would just have a conversation with someone and be forgotten, it'd be done. But now these things have a life, this data has a life after the relationship and has meaning and potential uses to people outside of the relationship.
So it sounds almost like what you're describing is, I'm listening to you and what's coming to my mind is the old World War II propaganda posters, loose lips, sink ships, be careful what you tell the pretty girl in the bar trying to brag and flirt with her about how well positioned you are and how important you are in the Navy because she might be a German spy.
And I'm wondering if, I would be curious to know if that ever happens at the big tech conferences. I wonder if there are industrial espionage honeypots happening everywhere around us and we don't even know it. I'm not going to go into it, but this is definitely happening in cybersecurity. Oh wow.
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I'll tell you this story when we take a nap.
But I think this gets to another important point when we talk about safe sex, right?
Apps like Signal.
And what was the other one that the messages disappeared that you used to recommend?
Mark Cuban had one, I'm not sure if it's still around. It was called Cyber Dust and I really liked it. Yes. When the Sony hack happened, Mark Cuban was very self satisfied and frankly he deserved to be because he had insisted that all of the communication around his negotiations for Shark Tank, the TV show, happened on his secure app on Cyber Dust.
So when the Sony leak happened, he was one of the wealthiest people connected to Sony that was not impacted by the hack because he insisted that they use his platform and it was encrypted. Good for him. Good for him. That is an important takeaway, I think.
Now I'm going to throw a wrench into this, but my preference would be let's be on a platform where we can exchange information and flirt and I can tell you about com badges. And in my fantasy, you actually care about my Star Trek knowledge. So just go along with me.
And yet, for the listener who can't see, we record a video and she is vigorously shaking her head no at me.
But yet the messages are ephemeral, right?
We exchange them and after a few days they disappear. There's a setting on Signal that I use all the time for this. And I would prefer that. And it be not on someone's platform where it's discoverable or it's maintained or anything. I like that idea of a flirt being like a sunset. And once that sunset's gone, you have the memory of it, but you don't necessarily have the record.
And see, as somebody who is a word person, I don't know that I do like that. Because think about all of the and what I'm about to say is going to make your security heart cringe. Think about all of the love letters that we have from ages past.
From, from, or Heloise and Abelard up through James Joyce and his ridiculously filthy love letters.
You know, we have these sort of erotic legacies that are left for us.
And those are not just for some instances like Joyce and Hildegard of Bingen, cultural artifacts, but they are family artifacts too, right?
Like there's something kind of cool about finding the love letter that your grandma sent to your grandpa in World War II. Or the artfully arranged Polaroids that mom sent to dad in Vietnam. Like there's something, I don't want flirtation to be so finite. I don't want the paper trail of love and lust to disappear into the ether. I want those to be preservable.
And so there I think we differ a little bit. I can see it now. Okay folks, take the Up Your DM Game Workshop and your DMs, your filthy, filthy DMs, will one day be up there with Joyce for your grandkids. Nobody wants their kids to find their nudes. Nobody wants that.
But if you go a generation further, the nastiest notes become nostalgic and become a record that these people were here and they loved each other and they had a life beyond baking cookies with me. And there is something really powerful about that that I love. And I would hate to see because everything we do is digital these days. None of us write a love letter.
If somebody's super lucky, they might get a love email. And most of us, I don't even think do that. We have the instantaneous ability to shoot somebody a DM or a text message and say, I was thinking about your boobs right now. And that's all they do. That as a history lover, as a wordsmith, makes me really sad. So I hear the security piece and I get it.
And I think that if people don't want to leave a romantic or erotic paper trail, they shouldn't have to. But I will say, I think that that does represent a cultural and historical loss. I want the lusty romantic legacy to continue and to be archived somewhere. So there's a tip to our dear listener.
Get a love note in paper to your loved one and make their day and talk about how lovely their breasts would look with a comb badge right there. So here's the thing about that, though. And I know we're coming to the end of this episode, but here's my concern. With a Polaroid or with a love letter, it's one copy. It's physical. It's tangible. I have control over it.
I have it in my safe. You have it in your cedar chest of memories. We have it somewhere.
And with a lot of this data that we exchange when we're setting up relationships and bringing cool facts and seducing each other and touting the power of our big brains, I am very concerned about it being owned by some corporation or being data that can be copied and distributed, being a picture that can be posted on a revenge site. I am very concerned about the fungibility of this information.
And so we're not going to solve this today, but one of the things that I think is a principle when it comes to seduction and safe sex is I have control over the words of which I share. For sure.
And that is another point in favor of the old fashioned handwritten love letter because it belongs to you and it belongs to the recipient and it belongs to your great grandchildren and maybe it belongs to the Library of Congress, but it does not belong to Meta. Yes. Although I'm submitting all our early texts to the Library of Congress, by the way, I forgot to tell you this.
I probably should get your consent. I actually think you don't need mine anymore. I think you have to get Elon Musk's personal consent to share our flirty texts with the Library of Congress at this point.
Oh, don't even say that. All right.
With that, thank you so much for tuning in to Securing Sexuality, your source for the information you need to protect yourself and your relationships. Securing Sexuality is brought to you by the Bound Together Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit. From the bedroom to the cloud, we're here to help you navigate safe sex in a digital age.
Be sure to check out our website, Securing Sexuality, for links to more information about the topics we've discussed here today, as well as our 2023 live conference in Detroit. And join us again for more fascinating conversations about the intersection of sexuality and technology. Have a great week. Thank you.
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