The numbers of middle aged Americans who text-message via cell phone has increased markedly in the last 5 years. For some, this new form of communication has had little effect. For others, it has represented a momentous change in work, marriage and social relationships. The examination of changes in marital relationships as a result of “sexting”, a form of text messaging, is of interest to many middle aged couples. Some are fearful sexting leads of “screen infidelity” that is, cheating on one’s spouse via sexting someone outside of the marriage. Others fear sexting leads to actual adultery. Conversely, some married couples enjoy sexting as a way to spice up their marriage, using it as a way to create arousal for later sexual activity, or to create fantasy role-playing. Some married couples use sexting as a silent form of phone sex while their spouses are out of town on business. (We certainly don’t want little Sally to hear our phone conversation, do we?) In my upcoming cultural analysis, I will explore these, and many other uses of sexting, as well as comment on whether social change has occurred as a result of this communication technology among middle-aged, heterosexual married couples with two or more children.
This analysis of technology and a well -defined cultural group will not be an empirical one. Data has been collected in the very non-scientific manner of conversations, observation and unstructured, casual mentions on social networking sites. Given this relaxed format, I will take a subjective, involved approach to authoring the analysis. I am a member of this sub-culture of middle-aged married community, and myself have experiences and opinions to share on the topic.
I expect my audience will be those who also consider themselves members of this sub-culture, but might possibly also include those who sext on a regular basis, including the young, old, single or homosexual. I hope to provide these potential audiences with new information on the use of sexting, and to spark conversations between couples on issues such as screen infidelity, adultery, open marriages and improving marital sexual relationships.
I have gathered quite a bit of data via interviews for this analysis, but have yet to decide which other sources to include.