Of online chatting and virtual sex
AFTER having defined the protocol for International Networking, the works of computer programmers Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn in coming up with a shared use of computers, in which packets of information are sent on from one computer network to another, have created today’s challenges in dire need to protect society from abuses brought about by the proliferation of online pornography and virtual prostitution.
The Internet, The Web
The design of the Internet was done in 1973 and published in 1974. There ensued about 10 years of hard work, resulting in the roll out of the Internet in 1983. Prior to that, a number of demonstrations were made of the technology – such as the first three-network interconnection demonstrated in November 1977 linking Satnet, Prnet, and Arpanet in a path leading from Menlo Park, California to University College London and back to the University of Southern California in Marina del Rey, this according to a FAQ site provided by Tim Berners-Lee who pioneered the global hypertext system.
While the Net is a network of networks, basically involving computers and cables for different sort of programs such as the electronic mail, the World Wide Web nicknamed Web is an abstract and or imaginary space of information. One finds computers on the Net. One finds documents, sounds, videos, a load of information on the Web with the use of different languages between computers called “protocols” to provide a service.
While people don’t really want to know about computers and cables, the word Internet has stuck more over the term Web. By making the Net useful, it is the Web that draws people to go online, marking an increase in real time use every year. With videoconferencing and streamed audio channels, and online gaming and chatting, people are observed to have become more and more interested in the Web. But while this accessibility to files of information has helped some in research works and other worthwhile purposes, it has also led to cyberprostitution operated mostly by foreign nationals, and the easy access of pornographic sites that open a conservative society like Cebu to the concept of bangbus (group sex), hentai-manga (sex cartoons), and virtual sex as done during chatting sessions in either the main room, over voice chat, and in private message boxes.
Internet use, chatting online
The United States tops the number of Internet users worldwide with 185,000,000 as of 2005. This means that 63 per 100 Americans were online last year. This was followed by densely populated China with 94,000,000 or seven active Net users per 100 Chinese. Japan tails with 64,160,000 or 50 per 100 Japanese.
Here in Cebu, it is estimated that in less than a week, close to five hundred people come to every Internet café that mostly has an available 20 computer units. Seeing that one wage earner has to save his keeps over a period of time of from one to two years to be able to buy a computer unit and complete peripherals that the average US citizen could buy for the price of a month’s salary, the scenario has inspired entrepreneurs in the putting up of Internet cafés around to deal with the specific needs of a captive market. As a regular chatter since 1997, I find the chatroom to be the most democratic venue for _expression you can ever find. There’s no one who can control it, except of course if the chatroom you are using is your own and you display it on “Public” mode or if you are connected to a chat channel with an active operator called in chat lingo as “chandman” such as ICQ or MiRC. But what’s most interesting in rooms (from Cebu Tambayan to OFW to Metro Manila Barkadahan) at the Yahoo Messenger chat channel is who’s trying to control it. There is the game of the forces of _expression to control operation versus the creative impulse to express.
Cybersex in the city
Long before an American was caught here for hiring women willing to simulate sex on web camera using sex toys – dildo, vibrator – and long before a woman was arrested in Minglanilla for having children pose nude in front of webcams in exchange for a certain amount from Caucasian customers, cybersex has already proliferated in Bislig, Surigao del Sur.
In fact, the report via a giant television network mentioned that Internet cafés in Bislig and other key cities in Mindanao have helped pump up the economy with more and more people utilizing available technology.
I tried to contact the president of the Internet Operators Association of Cebu to give his side to the issue on cybersex but he could not be reached for comment.
The exposé revealed of economics as the very reason why women – even married ones – would willingly strip before the webcam in exchange for payment done through quick money transfer firms. Though it was only recently that those into abuse of computer use were apprehended, obviously for lack of laws regulating cyber operations, cybersex has long been accepted into the sub-culture of online chatters. “Mas maayo ni dili mi masakit. Kaysa naman pakalat-kalat mi sa karsada,” says Jee, 22, of Poblacion, Minglanilla, a former guest relations officer who learned to chat the other year. “Mas maayo pud ni kay mga Amerikano man akong customers. Di man sila ma-shock nga makahibalo nga homosexual ko. Nya klaro pa gyud sila mobayad maskin ang ilang makita kay enhanced nga boobs,” butts in Hannah, 18, of Sangat, San Fernando but who frequents Jee’s place. Jee explained that it is wrong for authorities to go after Internet café operators because cybersex happens mostly within the confines of homes. “Kon naa sila’y angay gukdon kanang parehas ni Woolbright nga gihimo nang negosyo. Nag-hire na ug mga babaye. But for as long as the act is done in private, wala sila’y pakialam – example, nako – kon unsaon nako akong lawas.”
Last August, I met Choebe, 34, married with four children. She lives in Ibabao Estancia, Mandaue City. While I was also chatting online with my virtual boyfriends – two Pinoys and one Indian national studying in Australia – I noticed that Choebe’s husband Joe was there as her “official coach”. By the way, it is also another accepted culture in online chatting to have more than one boyfriend which one calls either “bana, kabit, lover, or fling.” Joe would tell Choebe to stand so her American virtual boyfriend would be able to get a good look at her figure. Then Joe would tell her to “show cleavage” and tease by raising her skirt up to “show some more skin”. And it is Joe who picks the “probable customers” and would tell Choebe to drop conversations with the rest whom he finds uninterested in “paying the asking price.” I learned from Choebe that she and Joe do chat for a living. “Pamugasay na gyud ni kay upat among anak, wa pud mi mga klarong trabaho. Nakabantay man akong pares (Joe) nga makakwarta ang uban kon maghubo atubangan sa mga Amerikano bisan gani yoyi (slang for homosexual). Sugot man gani sha magminyo ko ug Amerikano pero di lang mi magbuwag, padad-an lang daw nako sila ug ang mga bata ug kwarta.”
In Talisay, I learned of Dennis, 19, who has a virtual girlfriend in Australia named Irene, a Filipina married to an Aussie. Dennis said he got hooked to online chatting because Irene would now send money for his education. “Nindot ni naa pa tay uyab na usahay palami-an tag storya, nya naa pay sulod ang ATM,” he said with a mischievous smile.
While I was in Talamban, I noticed two men in their early 20s who were busy clicking on, trying to access a beautiful girl named Melanz in China, cajoling her to talk to them via the voice features. When asked why would they push around for one girl, they said, “pusta-anay mi asa’y una tabi-on ni Melanz sa PM (private message).” The two find chatting the easiest way to get a girlfriend. “Mas dali ipanguyab sa chat, gamay lang nga storya I love you na dayon. Nya sunod ana magtinawganay na’g langga or honey. Pero dali lang sad mabungkag kay daghan man pud sha’g kapilian sa iyang ka-chat.” Meanwhile, Mil, 46, separated, running a general merchandise store, frequents chatrooms in search of probable sex partners whether on the phone or for real. “Yeah, I must admit that I do have fears when it comes to hiring services of call girls or prostis. I invite girls to meet me or to have sex with me on the phone. Some do ask for a fee though. But most of the time I end up having everything for free. Maypa’g mo-chat.” Others come online simply to broaden a network of friends like Yammy, 36, of Gingoog City but who is already in Canaan, Connecticut; and sisters Aida, 45, and Dolly, 41, of Germany. Most of these people are overseas contract workers who are embattled by solitude and the longing for home and family. Talking with “kababayans” they say help them fend off boredom and deal with homesickness, just like Ji Pajaron, 32, from Hilongos, Leyte but who works as caregiver in Israel. There are also those who can’t talk about sex at home that they seek a venue where such is discussed in a no-holds-barred manner just like Fux, 18, of Bindoy, Negros Oriental and Onol, 20, of Cansojong, Talisay who both often end up asking me to indulge with them in sex chat. At Cebu Tambayan 2 which can be accessed by getting a Yahoo Messenger download and clicking on Chat: Regional, then Philippines channel, chatters are composed of a motley crew of beauties and beasts, the honest and reliable, the trickster and heel, the comic, the gross and weird, the conservative and perverts. I am a regular here and an organizer of the recent Grand Eyeball. At times, one could cluck a tongue at the absurdity of this whole enterprise happening 24/7 when online chatters in the guise of anonymity converge at this specific virtual room, as CT2 becomes the most democratic venue for _expression one can ever find. At a click of the mouse and punches on the keyboard, there is now that struggle for power as oftentimes the chatroom becomes a battlefield rather than a sanctuary of peace, a warzone rather than a pagod of prayer. Most of the time, discussions would go overboard and maniacal rather than the upholding of diplomacy. And yes, we do have more of the bad mouths than those sticking religiously to their lanes. But during the grand eyeball, we ended up with the conclusion that real time chatting or online chatting is beautiful and invincible in the new age. Like poetry, it seeks to intertwine justice and the arts to find the stability of truth. And because truth is very elusive in the chatroom, the grand eyeball provides a space for one to decipher whether one is a person or a myth. The event comes with the realization that when you click that person at the other end of the line, you will know he or she is for real because he or she doesn’t go overboard with this privilege of chatting in the guise of anonymity. (/30)