But the safer substitutes for sex to be found online offered whole new kinds of titillation.
To talk (or type) about sex constituted its own kind of intimacy.
It contained an article about a woman whose prolific activity in “hot chats” transformed her from a “paragon of shy and retiring womanhood” into a bona fide “man-eater.” The author describes a female friend who spent hours a day in the 1980s on a service called the Source.
He calls her by her handle: “This Is a Naked Lady.” “The Naked Lady egged on her digital admirers with leading questions larded with copious amounts of double entendre,” the piece began.
As more and more Americans got online in the early 1990s, they learned how to enjoy relationships that were text-only.
Pioneering “cybercitizens” developed forms of dating that were all talk.
When my sister, searching for images of her favorite British pop stars, accidentally typed “Spicy Girls” into Yahoo, the search results made her run, shrieking, from the family computer. “It is probably no coincidence that this sea change comes on us at a time when AIDS lurks in the alleyways of our lives,” a writer for The Nation mused in 1993.