Erotica and social media

I don’t know a lot about the history of erotica online, but I find what has been occurring on Tumblr (and to a lesser extent Pinterest) very intriguing. From my experience, erotica has not intersected much with social networks. Sites like Literotica enable user submitted erotic stories, but due to the real world identity-centric focus of Facebook & its predecessors, combined with the nature of erotic content, I’ve observed limited overlap. Compared to offline erotica (Anais Nin, Henry Miller, Pauline Reage etc), the online landscape feels somewhat de-humanizing. Flickr was probably the only mainstream social platform where I observed erotica finding a niche, but natural home.


Tumblr has 3 attributes that I think might be allowing a new form of social erotica to emerge: 1. support of pseudonymity; 2. a classy, creative environment for sharing images, videos, text; 3. An ecosystem in which content spreads incredibly socially.


I first stumbled across the erotica on Tumblr when reading a profile about James Deen, a male porn star who is particularly popular with women. If you look at the James Deen tag on Tumblr, there are many people curating content featuring him. There are a ton of Tumblrs where erotica/porn is the primary form of content being curated. It appears that the demographics of people curating and consuming this are different to for example the broader online porn space with a higher % of women and couples. 


Mostly it appears that everyday Tumblr users are curating what they find erotic and organically building a following around this. It is sometimes mixed media, for example a story followed by an image.  The ‘ask me anything’ feature of Tumblr frequently intersperses the erotica & creates a conversation between curator and visitor around personal sexual peccadilloes. The animated GIF is very much alive and well. Sometimes users will interlace curated external content with images of themselves. It all feels quite  human.


It seems interesting that such a personal form of erotic expression is occurring online, compared to much of the soulessness found in the porn landscape. I’m curious to see where this goes next, and in particular whether a dedicated service that extends and amplifies this behaviour emerges on the social web. I know a whole big bunch of VCs wouldn’t go near it with a bargepole! Ain’t no khaki pants round here.

Curious to hear if anyone has any thoughts on this. Am I just way behind and this has been going on forever in social media, or is this a relatively new phenomenon?