A post from a scene friend on Tumblr yesterday gave me pause about something that has been niggling in the back of my head for some time now.
It has to do with the BDSM scene and kink in general and how society as a whole seems to be attempting to deal with it on the Internet as well as elsewhere. For a while now, those of us in the kink community have been pretty closed off and content with that considering how open society views the scene. Generally, if you’re labeled as ‘kinky’, you’re considered to be on the ‘outside fringes’ and well worth keeping a distance from. Certainly, people who are kink friendly have shown up in news reports doing ‘odd’ things like walking their girlfriend through a mall in NY as if she was a dog or pet. Personally, I think that’s an extreme case and not really the best way to put your best ‘kink foot forward’ since a mall is a place where children are likely to be present, and you’re causing others to be privy to what you normally do in the privacy of your own home. Doing it at an event that’s specifically geared towards kink practices is one thing, out in public where you’re making others uncomfortable is not. So I can easily understand how sites like Facebook and Tinder would be less inclined towards those that promote themselves as being kink friendly.
Less so for sites like Tumblr and Instagram. In December of last year, came an event that unofficially was dubbed ‘Tumblrgeddon’, where the owners of the site decided that they were going to almost unilaterally remove a good deal of porn from their servers, and effectively sequester the rest as much as the could. If you had an account that was strictly geared towards kink, or porn, whether it was yours or just being reposted, it was excised from public view. Worse yet, if you had anything that (in their rather poorly stated words) promoted “female-presenting-nipples“, it was summarily banned or hidden from others’ view. So essentially 90% of people who were working with accounts that were kink related had to find somewhere else to put their interest. Within a couple of days, enterprising people were setting up sites called pillowfort.io, bdsmlr.com, Humblr.com as well as others that wished to freely accept anyone that wanted to leave Tumblr.
Within the last month or so, Instagram has more or less decided to do the same. (I note that it’s not a coincidence that Instagram is owned by Facebook btw) About 3 weeks ago one of my Insta accounts was deactivated by TPTB (The Powers That Be) and I received notice that it was mine no longer and it wasn’t going to be reactivated due to a violation of the TOS. When I asked what the violation was, they wouldn’t tell me. I’ve heard about others that have had similar experiences, much like when you’re relegated to ‘Facebook Jail’ and they won’t divulge the reason you ended up there. Just that you’re going to be offline for a specific period of time and that’s that. The people who run these sites know they’re in the catbird seat, and you’re basically powerless to do anything about getting censored. You can lament all you want about how ‘unfair’ its become, but anymore they’re the only game in town. It’s certainly become far more difficult in the last 20 years in terms of connecting with like-minded individuals of the kink persuasion, as the sites to which we’re allowed to gather become more and more restricted. People talk about ‘Freedom of Speech’ but that doesn’t apply to multi-national conglomerates or these companies that, like Wal-Mart in a way, gather millions of people on their servers, and squash (or buy then liquidate) the smaller websites that might do the same thing, but when they’re the only game in town, things become far more restricted. Especially when those companies become publicly traded entities. When Facebook was a private company, it did things very differently than now when they’re beholden to shareholders.
Just a FYI, for those that say Twitter or Fetlife are suitable alternatives, honestly they’re really not. Twitter doesn’t have the same capabilities of a Tumblr or Instagram, and Fetlife by its very nature isn’t a personals site. Yes, people use it as if it was one, but that’s not the purpose of the site. About the only reason that Fetlife hasn’t been more restricted or censored is the fact that the home servers are located in Canada. If they were located in the US, they probably by all purposes would have been shut down by now. I equate the current situation to what happened to the website Insex around the time it ceased production around 2005. At that time, there was another Republican Administration in the US in power and by and large they were cracking down on a lot of US porn (and kink) producers, stating that the money that they were making was being sent to purveyors of terrorism (a huge lie) and many sites were being shut down or being threatened with lawsuits. The creator of Insex decided on his own that he was going to shut down the site, and move the content outside of the US (to the Netherlands to be specific) so as not to lose his work to a sudden possible seizure by said government. Which was actually possible. At the same time, he created several other sites that were a LOT tamer in comparison to the original, and they’ve been operating for the most part ever since. Though as of this writing, they’re slowly being updated infrequently, and probably in a few more years won’t be around at all. The original creator of Insex is now in his 70s, and as I understand it has mostly retired from active online participation. He has basically one ‘apprentice’ that carries on his work in Oregon, but he’s a mere shadow of the ‘The Source’, where all the diabolical ideas came to life way back in a little place in Brooklyn circa 1995.
Getting back to the title of this, it’s my opinion that we’re increasingly catering to the Lowest Common Denominator in many things and Kink seems to be no less of a victim. It’s sad to see how far we’re falling, and how it’s all going to play out over the next few years.