Cybersex, computer sex, internet sex or net sex is a virtual sex encounter in which two or more persons connected remotely via a computer network send one another sexually explicit messages describing a sexual experience. It is a form of role-playing in which the participants pretend they are having actual sexual relations. In one iteration, this fantasy sex is accomplished by the participants
describing their actions and responding to their chat partners in a mostly written form designed to stimulate their own sexual feelings and fantasies. Cybersex may also be accomplished through the use of avatars in a multiuser software environment.
Cybersex sometimes includes real life masturbation. The quality of a cybersex encounter typically depends upon the participants' abilities to evoke a vivid, visceral mental picture in the minds of their partners. Imagination and suspension of disbelief are also critically important. Cybersex can occur either within the context of existing or intimate relationships, e.g. among lovers who are geographically separated, or among individuals who have no prior knowledge of one another and meet in virtual spaces or cyberspaces and may even remain anonymous to one another. In some contexts cybersex is enhanced by the use of webcams to transmit real-time video of the partners.
Cybersex is sometimes colloquially called "cybering". Channels used to initiate cybersex are not necessarily exclusively devoted to that subject, and participants in any Internet chat may suddenly receive a message with any possible variation of the text "Wanna cyber?"
Cybersex is commonly performed in Internet chat rooms (such as IRC, talkers or web chats) and on instant messaging systems. It can also be performed using webcams, voice chat systems like Skype, or online games and/or virtual worlds like World of Warcraft and Second Life. The exact definition of cybersex--specifically, whether real-life masturbation must be taking place for the online sex act to count as cybersex--is up for debate.
Though text-based cybersex has been in practice for decades, the increased popularity of webcams has raised the number of online partners using two-way video connections to "expose" themselves to each other online--giving the act of cybersex a more visual aspect. There are a number of popular, commercial webcam websites that allow people to openly masturbate on camera while others watch them. Using similar sites, couples can also perform on camera for the enjoyment of others.
Cybersex differs from phone sex in that it offers a greater degree of anonymity and allows participants to meet partners more easily. A good deal of cybersex takes place between partners who have just met online. Unlike phone sex, cybersex in chat rooms is rarely commercial. In online worlds like Second Life however, internet sex workers engage in cybersex in exchange for both virtual and real-life currency.
One approach to cybering is a simulation of "real" sex, when participants try to make the experience as close to real life as possible, with participants taking turns writing descriptive, sexually explicit passages. Alternatively, it can be considered a form of role playing that allows a couple to experience unusual sexual sensations and carry out sexual experiments they cannot try in reality. Amongst "serious" roleplayers, cybering may occur as part of a larger plot - the characters involved may be lovers or spouses, or a character could be raped to initiate a plotline. In situations like this, the people typing often consider themselves separate entities from the "people" engaging in the sexual acts, much as the author of a novel often does not completely identify with his or her characters.
Cybersex is often ridiculed because the partners frequently have little verifiable knowledge (including gender) about each other. However, since for many the primary point of cybersex is the realistic simulation of sexual activity, this knowledge is not always desired or necessary.
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