3. The Internet and Hidden Desires
We have investigated how film and television have sought to appeal to viewers' scopophilia, but what happens when visual desire is redirected towards the internet? In a sense, by moving online the contemporary peep show has returned to its origins in the 15th Century. It is once again housed in a small box: the personal computer. This small box has become the main site for the fulfillment of visual desire in the contemporary world.
To begin with, the internet has come to serve as a tool for satisfying the various type of scopophilic desire. According to Freud, there are two types of scophiliac: the voyeur, who revels in private act of seeing, and the exhibitionist, who pursues the public act of being seen. Popular internet sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, blogs, Youtube, and Flicker provide opportunities for both types of visual pleasure, both private and public. Moving into the 21st Century, internet services have sought to satisfy not only the desire to watch, but also the desire to be watched. Compared to the less participatory media of film and television, the internet opens up new possibilities for the fulfillment of exhibitionist desires.
At the same time, for the voyeur, the internet renews the possibility of viewing in complete privacy. Watching a film long meant sitting next to others in a theater, a space that, while it may be darkened, was a long way from providing privacy. The prototypical setting for television viewing is the semi-public space of the living room, surrounded by other family members or friends. In contrast, the internet, like the "personal" computer, is designed to be enjoyed alone.
This computing "box" has gradually become lighter and more compact, so much that it has become possible to easily "peep" using a mobile phone, during free time at work, in the park, or while riding the train. According to a survey in Japan, time spent online has tripled in the first six years of the 21st century alone. The cost of using the internet also appears to be decreasing, making this increased time more affordable.