Social Media for Humans

Sexuality and social media with Dr Colby Zongol

April 08, 2022 Alexis Bushnell Season 2 Episode 6
Social Media for Humans
Sexuality and social media with Dr Colby Zongol
Show Notes Transcript

Digging deep into social media's impact on relationships and sexuality with Dr Colby Zongol (she/her). We chatted about how social media enables us to explore who we are and what we like, what the research really says about porn and is Instagram only bad for our self esteem?

Dr. Colby Zongol is a sexologist who believes that the relationship rules we've been taught are bullshit.  Forget what "should" be, imagine what COULD be!  Through teaching and mentorship she helps clients reprogram the limiting beliefs and patterns that are keeping them stuck so that they can curate the sex and love life of their dreams.

Colby's links.
Website: https://www.colbyzongol.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dr.colbymariez/

Alexis' links.
I hang out on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alexisbushnell/​
Find me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SocialMediaForHumans
Join the club to learn more about ethical and effective social media marketing: https://socialmediaforhumans.club/

Voice over by Hawke Wood: https://www.spotlight.com/3490-9081-8844

Support the show
Hawke:

Hello and welcome to Social Media for Humans,  the podcast that empowers you to do social differently. Your host, Alexis Bushnell, and her  guests discuss their experience of social media as business owners, users, and ultimately humans. With  insights and advice to help you find an effective and ethical strategy that works for you. Grab  yourself a drink and join the conversation.

Alexis:

Hello hello! I am here with fabulous Colby, do you  introduce yourself, tell us who you are and what you do.

Colby:

Yeah, hi everyone, my name is Dr Colby  Zongol, I go by pronouns she, her, doctor. I am a sexologist and a doctor of human  sexuality studies, so basically the work that I do is helping people have closer relationships  and better sex.

Alexis:

Which is. I think a lot of people are going to think "well that's great but  what does this have to do with social media?" [Laughter] Tell me why you are passionate about having this  conversation about sort of, the intersection of relationship and sexuality and social media. Colby: yeah because I think they do intersect. like a lot even if we're not necessarily like thinking about  how they do all the time. But social media has really changed the way that we interact with  one another and how we connect with each other. I think just about, you know, so when  I say sexuality and relationships that isn't just romantic relationships or sexual  relationships, it's really all relationships. So if we think about the way we interact on even a  day-to-day basis with folks using social media, sending memes to our friends, like tagging people,  demonstrating the kind of relationships we are in, like highlighting those relationships,  meeting people through social media. Like I think we're at an age right now  where we probably a lot of us probably know folks who have like begun relationships, whether  they're friendships, business partnerships, romantic relationships, marriage. Like I know, you  know, several of my friends who have gotten married met, you know, using like Tinder or other, you  know, online dating, social and those are social media platforms too right, we don't always think  about that. But then even like I think about and one of my colleagues actually did a  study about this recently too, about like how our social media usage can also like interfere with  relationships that we have, or like change the way like, you know, thinking about are we looking at  our phone all the time instead of connecting in person with the people nearest to us? I'm sure a  lot of us see this too at restaurants, you go and you see like the whole family like on their phones  instead of having like one-on-one in person interaction. I think we talk about the way like,  we think about body confidence and sensuality, like folks posting on social media, think  of Only Fans which is also social media, right? All of these different ways, so I think there's  like so many different ways where these fields like interact and I'm really excited to dig in a little more. Yeah and I think it's really interesting  you say it has changed the way that we interact both online and offline, and again  I think this is something people really like to have that distinction of, like my online  life and my offline life, right, but actually that they are largely the same thing, you know,  there is there is definitely so much overlap. What have you and your colleagues sort of seen  as the the negatives and the difficulties that are coming up more and more now that are  largely because of social media?

Colby:

yeah well kind of in the example I gave just like  digging deeper a little bit into that, like we, you know, and I think technology  itself like does things to our brain, that there's almost this draw this, you know, I don't want to call it an addiction but I know people like think about it as an addiction. Like  we wake up we're reaching for our phones, a lot of folks I know are less comfortable  like with boredom, or with just like not you know, sitting and like not looking at  something, not scrolling. Actually I'll like out myself a little! I find myself  using it a little bit as a like a virtual escape a little bit. I know there are times, I  know I, like if I'm having conflict with my husband sometimes I'll like, just to  like feel like I'm not in the room anymore, because you know, there's like tension in  the air, there's energy, so I'll even just like "let me scroll to get out of here" is kind of like  how I feel or. So I think, you know, again if we're thinking about people like sitting down and  in these circumstances where they used to be having interaction with the people in the  physical space with them, are feeling drawn to be interacting with other folks, like online versus  the people in the physical space, and I think you know, I don't think that feels good for  any of us right, especially if like I think of. It's like Alexis, if I were here like looking at you, we're having a video chat right now and instead of like talking to me you are like  scrolling on your phone, like what is the message that's sending to me? That's sending the message  that like I'm not important, what I have to say isn't important, you're not interested, there's  something better on my screen than there is here. Because like, so my background is  in communication and so things that like non-verbals are always sending messages, even when  we're not doing it on purpose. So like again I wish I were doing this other thing or my  phone is more important, more interesting than you, the person who's sitting here. So I think  those are some of the challenges that I see come up a lot and how, that's more  technology but I think a lot of it's usually like if we're picking up our phones is to kind  of, like you know, interact on social media.

Alexis:

Yeah, I'm interested whether you think that that  is largely because it is, or it feels easier on social media, because I'm gonna put my hand  up and say okay, I'm an introvert, I'm also a Millennial, and I find it a lot easier to connect to people  online than in person. I am interested as to whether you that's kind of maybe what is going  on when people are, whether they are in conflict and they're like "I don't know how to deal with  this, I need to get away," whether it's just "I'm having a conversation with you but i don't really  know how to do that so I'm gonna scroll on social media because I know how to do that." Like is that  what's happening? Or is there other things to it?

Colby:

Yeah I mean I definitely think that's part of it for sure, if not like most of it. But I think, and this is where it's always hard for me to  think about it as like a bad thing or a good thing, because that's also like one of the like benefits  I think of social media, there are folks who maybe don't thrive in like in-person social  situations and have really been able to kind of, like you said, like connect with other folks  maybe through in a way that feels more comfortable, that feels easier. I think too  like when it comes to sexuality I think about folks are able to like fantasise and experiment in  a way, you know like I know friends who will like post things on social media, whether it's like  pictures of themselves, their body, they will just act more, they feel more confident on  the web than they do like in real life, but that sometimes can translate. So I guess like yeah,  that is an excellent like reason or, you know, way and I think it just goes, you know, I will  always talk about how like folks, we can always be practicing and like getting better at  our relational skills and our communication skills. Because I would almost say the same  thing like that you mentioned the Millennial thing and a lot of us are working from home  nowadays, so I also think that they're, you know, we can talk to other generations like the Boomers who  are probably more comfortable in person and are less comfortable online and who are forced into  this virtual space a lot because of the pandemic and they're having to learn the opposite, like  how to engage in a way over technology, whether it's social media or even like you know Zoom or  Teams or other platforms they're using for work where they don't feel as comfortable, and we're  watching them kind of get more comfortable. So I definitely, I think both of these realities  are very true and we all probably have like growth that we can do to make all of these  relationships, and that's kind of the work that I do right, how we can like make all these  relationships more intimate, more connected, more appealing, more satisfying? Alexis: Yeah so okay, on that note then, do you feel, because I know there are a lot of people who are of the opinion that sort of the communications that we have, the friendships we build online are not as important, you can never know somebody the same way, it's not the real deal. And I think a lot of  this shows up when people sort of meet someone who they've known online offline and everybody else is like "oh you're real friends now, because you've like been in the same physical space Colby: It's bullshit!

Alexis:

I am interested, do you think that that is the case? Colby: I mean no, so I think a lot of and this this often happens with anything we think about in terms of like sexuality right, is like we we tend to place our judgment based on our own biases on things, and I will say  like one of the things I often teach is that like the relationship rules are bullshit, I know  I already said bullshit, but that's because we're. And that's one of them, that like our real friends  are only friends we can touch in person. I think they're just, it's just different. So that, you  know, I think there is truth in that people we are able to interact with, there is  richer communication in things like seeing somebody in person, but technology has almost  changed that because so many of the things when we used to say. Relationships over  technology used to be just by like telephone or like, it wasn't this video chat so like we were  missing a lot of the non-verbals, we get a lot of those now when we talk about video chat, that we  didn't get before, you know. Texting isn't a really rich communication channel because you don't  get a lot of again, like the non-verbals, the nuances and changes in like tone and inflection  and things like that that you hear in voice. But that doesn't mean that these relationships,  like the things that we think about that build trust and intimacy aren't real that  is complete bullshit, they are different potentially, but that doesn't make them any less real. Research has actually shown that, like you were saying, like a lot of folks who like might identify  as introverted actually feel more comfortable like self-disclosing like having more intimate,  deeper connections and conversations. Self-disclosure and vulnerability is like key  to building intimacy and trust and things like that in relationships, so like if there are folks who are more comfortable doing that stuff online, or like through social  media then that's not a bad thing, that's a benefit of social. Again like I don't want to think  social media is bad or good, like that's a benefit of it and I just think it means like friendships  are different, but like I was actually, and I think I was like mentioning actually on like  an Instagram live I did recently too, like I'm able, I'm sure we're all able now, to  connect with folks who live further away more often because of social media than I was ten  years. Like these are friends I maybe made 10, 15 years ago when social media wasn't as like a part  of our daily lives and I'm actually connecting and communicating them with them more now than  I was when we were living closer together so that's fucking cool. I forgot to ask  if I can swear! I'm swearing I think okay to..? But yeah, so yes I don't know  if that answered your question. Yeah but you know I appreciate that because  like all basically, all of my sort of best friends are people I met online and most of them I have then sort of met up with in person but yeah, the the whole relationship was built online and  it continues online.

Colby:

I was going to say I think a little bit again it's like potentially a generational thing for sure, which is like both annoying and understandable because   we all interpret the world based on our own unique experience. So again if this isn't  something that somebody, like if I was never familiar with establishing and building a  relationship with someone over the internet or through social media I might not be able to like  empathise or understand how that can be true but that doesn't mean it  can't be true for other people.

Alexis:

I will say I read a really interesting article,  it was a while ago now, but it was about how we no longer need terms like like be right  back, and you used to have BRB because, you know, you have to get off the internet because  somebody has to make a call, and it was a really interesting piece about how that has changed  our expectation of relationships too because now we are used to the immediacy. When we send a message we expect somebody to respond straight away, and also we expect them to have seen our  social media posts, we expect them to know what is going on, and I sense that is probably a negative of  social media and how that connection has happened.

Colby:

Yeah this one feels like really near  and dear to my heart because I feel like one of the things I am very, I'm  an advocate for is like boundaries around media use just in general and actually boundaries around everything in general. I'll tell you, I also identify as an introvert  so like part of me, as an introvert, is also like "I need my time alone, like please do not bother  me." I like the do not disturb button on my phone is like my best friend and so I think that's  just something. I agree that there's almost this like cultural shift, like everyone's online all  the time and I think this is just part of like communication and media literacy  and like understanding that. Actually I don't think like any form of digital  communication, except for like right now, I guess is immediate, and that's kind  of the beauty about it, at least in my opinion as an introvert, like I can send you this text message  but again like, that falls on me to not have the expectation that you're gonna see it right away  because, and we talked a little earlier about like everything sends a message, even if it's not  an intentional message. So like if I send a text message and someone doesn't like answer  me right away, I'm probably making a story in my head about why that is, like do they not like me?  Are they mad at me? Are they pissed about what I said in the text message? Or like the social  media post, like why didn't they like it? And that's shit we have to like  work on, I think, as individuals right, because we are making up that script because the fact that  social media isn't this like immediately dynamic form of communication, unless you're doing like,  again like if you're calling someone on Instagram video or something, like this right now, is like  immediate but if you're posting something, if you're commenting on something, if you're liking something,  if you're messaging somebody, those aren't immediate and dynamic forms of communication, so  understanding when we send them, the person on the receiving end of those really gets to make the  choice about how and when they interact with it, which makes it great! I think again this is like  a benefit of it, but we need, it's up to us to like learn and understand that in a way that doesn't  cause, I think like, distress or like confusion on our end. And I am, for what it's worth,  I'm also like definitely an advocate of spending time by yourself in some capacity  or another to get to know yourself. So like taking a break from interaction in general,  whether it's in person or via social media, I just think it's a really important part of  our human experience.

Alexis:

yeah I'm also, I like a bit of alone time, just like turn everything  off, lie in a darkened room alone quietly, bliss! One thing that is really in the news at the  moment and like a hot topic, is sort of body image especially around Instagram so  have you seen, I guess yes, but have you seen a change in how people are experiencing their  bodies, what they feel about them, and that kind of thing with the rise of Instagram? Colby: Yeah for sure and I think this is also one of those things that you can look at it as a positive light or a negative light, but it's just a light, so we can kind of explore it without that kind  of moral judgment necessarily but yes. So obviously I'm sure like, thinking about Instagram we know  about like Insta models, there's a lot of like face tuning and other sort of, you know, like photo  shopping that can be really hard for folks in real bodies who are seeing things that  are not real and having those expectations, and looking at like what types of bodies  are sexualised, what type of bodies are getting the likes or getting the comments  or getting the fire emojis, things like that. But I think one of the, and this is where I'm  gonna come back to like, I think it's about social media literacy and learning to  get it to work for you in a way that works for you, because what I think what is cool about  Instagram, and actually it's something that I can, you know, I'll admit self-practice I did  a few years ago is that you really get to curate your own feed. Not completely because we know  they're throwing in those suggestions, but those suggestions are usually, you know, come from  things you already follow. So just being one of the things I often like teach a lot of my clients when  it comes to like social media is to curate a feed that makes you feel good. So you know, not following  accounts that are showing bodies that make you feel bad about yours and for me that was like showing accounts that promoted bodies being attractive and sexy  and pretty and cute that looked more like mine. There's literally like theories about this. I can't, it's like escaping my mind. Cultivation theory! Cultivation theory  literally says that the media you consume leads your brain to believe that that's  what real life is like, right? So the more you're consuming media that makes you feel  self-conscious, less worthy, less valuable, the more you're going to start to believe that  that's true in real life but because we have control over that feed, we have control  over that curation. That part about it is really cool to me because then you can like, "Oh no, like  my body is normal, my body body is sexy, my body is attractive" and that part I think about it is  like super super cool and, again, like it allows. Yeah I was just gonna say and then can allow folks  like you said, like who might feel more comfortable whether, and when I say showing their body I don't  necessarily mean in a way even it's like nudity or anything like that, but just like having photos  with their bodies in it, and whether that's in DMs or in like public posts or whatever, like we might  feel better doing that on a camera to someone we are interacting with over social media  than we might feel in person, but then that might also give us the self-confidence to also translate  that to in person, and that's also really cool. Yeah a place I see this a lot actually is with.  I was gonna say trans people, largely I see it with trans women. So many trans women  that I know and trans femme people they find so much empowerment in sharing selfies  and photos of themselves on social media because they have that community around them who are  like, "yes you are beautiful! Yes you're amazing! Yes you're sexy!" And that allows them the confidence  to walk out the door in quote real life and go "This is who I am and I'm amazing, it doesn't matter  what you say," and I think that is something that is really overlooked when we talk about certain body  image issues. And there is absolutely problems with the fact that the Instagram algorithm, and all  algorithms, but they push more of what you want and, of course, if you are in a space where a  lot of your friends, a lot of the the important people who you're supposed to be following look a certain way, you get fed more of that. But there is also so much power in the fact, like  you say, we can curate our feeds. You can choose to unfollow those people and follow body positive  people, and follow people who are posting photos that make you feel like, "oh yeah, I can look sexy  because they look like me and they look sexy," right? And that is something that I really think you are  right, we need education around that and I think, for me, I think we need education in schools  of this is how you can control what you see on social media, because a lot of it, I do think,  is a lot of parents don't understand how social media actually works and they can't offer that  help to their their kids when they are scrolling and just seeing all of these models, and nobody is  saying to them "this is how it works, this is what you can do, and look there are people out there  who look like you and people think that they're really hot and sexy and amazing," like those people exist.  Colby: Right! And what you mentioned too is really like, I think about like 20 years ago when you  had, you know folks who might have been very unique in their own like real life  community, like a say a fat trans Black femme might be the only fat Black trans femme in their  town, but they can find people similar to them in the virtual community, in social media  space and have that sense of community that they might not have been able to find. You know  in their, like 20 years ago they might have felt very isolated and alone and like they were  the only one and not able to find it and that. I have a lot of privilege, that's not usually  my experience as like a white cisgender straight girl, but like I can appreciate that for other  folks who might have otherwise, without social media, felt very. Again like and if we're not seeing  that we often feel like we're at a deficit, or we are a deficit, and that is not inherently, again not  an inherent truth that is bullshit but that's why representation matters, right? To be able to see  folks like ourselves represented in ways that are revered and attractive and, like you said,  sexy and hot and applauded. Yeah yeah, I also kind of want to ask you how you feel because you mentioned Only Fans at the beginning and like sexy Twitter is definitely  a big thing, and there are some, there are some opinions, there are  some hot takes, about these things. So how do you feel? What do you think is the  impact of things like Only Fans and overtly sexual content, what is essentially pornography on Twitter,  and stuff like that?

Colby:

So I am pro porn but I am pro knowing like again, I think it's about the like  literacy right. Porn is not education, like just like Disney movies are not education on how to  have a romantic relationship, porn is not education on how to have a sexual  relationship. But like as long as I think we know and are able, again I think this is something  that should be taught at a younger age because a lot you know, children do have  access to the interwebs and to these things and without the skills they have to be able  to understand that like, you know, it is totally okay and normal to be curious about these  things, and if you're not learning about them from other places, like this is the place you're  gonna learn about them, and that's kind of what we don't want right? We want them to be able  to learn the education in other places, in more credible, more comprehensive arenas, but um  especially here, I don't know what it's like for you in the UK Alexis but in the United States we are largely anti-sex ed. Not anti but the sex ed, at least the formal sex education kids are getting,  for the most part is pretty shitty so obviously they look to porn. So they're going to. We should just start understanding that people are going to be exposed to these things,  so how do we prepare them to be able to take in this information, this pornography in a way that they can understand it and kind of, you know, critique or look at it critically, you know. Not necessarily like the angle, like not the cinematic, and honestly I  also think Only Fans is great because it's giving the money back to the creators, back to the sex  workers instead of other places like PornHub that tend to, you know, like take all the money for  themselves. Like and sex workers deserve to be paid for the content that they're creating so, and I  know a lot of them use Twitter because Twitter is pretty lenient versus other social  media platforms, but more power, get that paper!

Alexis:

Definitely, definitely. I think actually Only Fans  is a really interesting case, I think because there is also that relationship building portion with  the people who are watching which has not been the case with what would be probably mainstream  porn. Whereas before you bought the magazine, or you watched the free video, who knows where it came  from, it was just you consuming that content, it was very much using it with a result  in mind, whereas Only Fans has kind of shown how much actual connection matters in sex. Even if  you are somebody who is all about the no strings sex and enjoying that, there is obviously a  real human desire to actually get to know on a slightly deeper level the people who you want  to have those sexual relationships with. So what are you seeing around that and what do you  think about that?

Colby:

Well I think it's actually so it that's really, I'm just like excited that  you said all that because that's very true and super. So what I've seen a lot of  too is, it's really interesting on like, it's almost teaching us, it can be a vehicle to teach  us about sexual communication. So very obvious, so I am also going to like be very, you know, I think  we know that obviously the creators on Only Fans, the sex workers on Only Fans like are there  to make money mostly, so they are probably, as part of any service related job, which we  are also in, like we want to give the customer what they want, right? So we're motivated  by you know, building a business, building an empire, making money, so we're probably going  to give the customer what they want. But like so it's not exactly, I think it's not exactly  translatable into like real life situations but part of that is like really cool, and like having  folks be able to describe what they want, identify what they want. I find in a lot  of the clients I work with, in their like real life sexual encounters, air quotes again,  like that isn't something a lot of people feel really confident and comfortable doing.  Like, "I want to tell you what my fantasy is, I want to tell you what makes me feel good,  I want to tell you what brings me pleasure, what I want to see, what I want," you know? Obviously  Only Fans it's only like what you want to see but like you're fantasising about it too.  Like this is what I would like to imagine happening during a sexual encounter.  So I almost feel like we could use Only Fans somehow to like teach that. And  then again if we're translating those skills. And I would like, I haven't seen any research about  it but I imagine like people that are consuming Only Fans might also be able to translate some  of those skills that they're learning by like that into the interactions they're having  off camera or offline, if that makes sense. Someone should do that study if they haven't,  that'd be really cool!

Alexis:

I would also be really interested in a study of like people who consume porn, like traditional porn, the magazines, the videos, stuff like that, and their  attitude to especially women and sex, compared to people who are consuming Only Fans style porn  and building that relationship with creators. Because as much there is so much pushback  about porn, so much, so much! And I do understand that on, if you see like a surface level and  you're like "well people are watching this kind of porn and then they are doing these things  non-consensually with people, to people," and I'm not sure that that is as likely with places  like Only Fans right because of that communication and getting like, building that relationship with  the sex workers, and so it frustrates me that there is so much pushback against places like Only Fans. Obviously Only Fans did a really shitty thing recently but as a concept, the idea  of supporting individual sex workers, I feel like that is something we should all be  getting behind ,because teaching that you know, women and people who are interested in  sex are not just a thing to be used but actually a person with their own desires. And this is another  thing we see through Only Fans, is also that like people, the creators are creating stuff that they  enjoy, you know, they have so much power to say "no I don't do these things because  I'm not into them, and if you want those things there are plenty of other people who will provide  them." And so there is also this inbuilt learning of I can ask you to do something and you can  say no, and you can be into things that I'm in and also things that are, you know,  but not everything that I'm into, and learning that sexual people are also  whole human beings and being okay with that.

Colby:

Yeah I think you bring out like a really excellent  point and I was thinking almost about like that human... not humanitarian but that humanistic,  whatever it is! Like realising that they're humans, right? And that comes into like, you know, thinking  about human connection and intimacy building and building relationships too. Like we are more  likely to relate, to empathize with, have like affinity for, folks who we know. I mean this is  literally why we do icebreakers during team building and things like that, right? When  we can see something in them that we see in us. And that's harder to do, like you said, with someone  that's just on a screen not interacting with us, but if we know that Jillian who's fingering  herself in front of me also has a cat and I have a cat, like oh my god, I wouldn't want  anything. I am less likely to want anything bad to happen to Jillian right after that, like  that's just the dynamic way that humans work and interact. So yeah that would definitely  be a cool. There was something else you mentioned that I was gonna comment on because it was  brilliant but I can't remember it right now. But to be fair I will also say like, we  shouldn't even need Only Fans because sex workers should just be able  to provide this content directly, but we obviously know that we live in a very sex  negative society so they are unable to get paid usually through other platforms and things like  that. So thank god, I agree with you, Only Fans did something shitty, we shouldn't even need  Only Fans but another time!

Alexis:

Yes and I think that it really frustrates me  as well because I think they are doing such an important service for like all the reasons i just  mentioned right, and like we we have such a problem generally with sex in society and the  communication around it, just the taboo-ness of it, the idea that you can be sexual  and still be anything else, right? And the sort of madonna whore complex that comes into play with  that and all of these things, and and there is so much desire to go "the reason there is violence  against women is because of porn" and I just don't, I just don't think that that's true. Colby: the research actually shows that there's less violence in societies that have more access to porn than in societies where porn is harder to access. wow! Well! I do love some proof!

Colby:

I don't have a  citation on me but yeah, most it usually, most of the research has shown that folks,  like societies or like cultures that are more liberal in their, you know, thinking and values  about sex tend to have less violence, less trauma, less victimisation, less coercion, less non-consent,  things like that. But it makes sense because again we're able to like. Usually if we're able to  teach that sexual literacy, whatever, that you know, that sexual intelligence, that  emotional intelligence, those relational intelligence from the get-go without being shy  about talking about these issues, which we are, then we're able, it's not about the stuff, it's  about us being able to digest and process and interact with this stuff, if that makes sense? Alexis: Yeah and actually kind of related to that, I wonder what kind of things you're seeing around like  romantic sexual relationships? Because there's, there seems to be, from a layperson's perspective,  there seems to be an increase in people cheating, in people figuring out, and I'm not  saying the figuring out is bad, but figuring out that they actually enjoy something through  enjoying it with somebody else without the knowledge or consent of their partners, and  while it's great that we have access to that I do wonder if that is creating a lot more, sort  of, relationship issues for committed relationships? Yeah so I don't think I would say that there's  more cheating happening nowadays, actually one of I'm gonna get a little bit nerdy here and  I know that I'm gonna obviously focus on stuff from the United States but obviously, it's where I  am so that's most of the stuff I've studied, but I think, I'm going to get this  a little wrong, but in the 60s, I don't know if you've heard of Kinsey but there's a Kinsey  institute. Kinsey was one of the first like sex researchers that got a lot of like exposure and  he did this really cool, I'm gonna get all the like specific details of it wrong but that it doesn't  matter, him and his team surveyed tens of thousands of people about their sexual behaviors  and he ended up like publishing these two books of "sexual behaviours of men" or something  like that, "the sexual behaviours of women," and it was very taboo at the time but it basically  showed that like all of these things that no one thought was happening was happening like  infidelity, sex before marriage, masturbation, and this was the first time people kind of  started to talk about it at a societal level. So cheating has been happening, I think Esther  Perel does a a TED talk where he says something like "cheating has been happening since the day  like monogamy me was born" like, it's just like hey! So but I do think there is, like you said, like  there is more acceptance and openness for folks to engage in behaviours, relationship formations,  attractions that, whatever, that they had. Like it's not all just like cisgendered, straight,  missionary style after marriage sex anymore, which is like fantastic and to I think  this has been, I know this has been happening for centuries we just didn't, again, like  talk about it, it's kind of like the same thing like the squeaky wheel gets the most  attention. Like the things we're talking about become that cultivation thing again, the things  that we see are what we believe reality to be, we aren't able to see everything and because  there's more like acceptance of it, people are more comfortable talking about it. I think  because even, there's you know, I've seen like for the anti-trans movement I've even seen conversations talking points that say like "well why are there so many trans people nowadays?  We didn't have this many trans people 40 years ago." and it's like yes we did, they just weren't out,  like they were hiding who they were and they were miserable and sad and not living their truth and  committing suicide and like you know, depression. It's not that there's more, there's not  more gay people than there were years ago it's just that there's more acceptance, like people. So  again, there's like not more open relationships now, there's just more people talking about it, which  is like great because I think it gives folks you know, one of the things I often work with  with my clients is literally like this idea that we are, you know, kind of socialised to believe that  this is how we're supposed to be when it comes to love and sex, and the truth is that there's all of,  I'm doing hand gestures which is unhelpful for a podcast, but like there's all, I'm doing very large,  wild, big hands! Like there are so many, we have our options are abundant and endless and infinite!  We do, there's not just one path we have to take in terms of our life when it comes to love and sex and I think that's great. I do obviously think like it can be challenging to deal with if you're  in a relationship, you know, a committed relationship and a partner comes to you and  says like, "hey by the way, I did this thing," but that's still like relational literacy, that  relational intelligence, like don't do shit] that's outside of the, you know, agreements of your  relationship, like that's shitty no matter what it is, that's shitty if it's like spending fifteen  hundred dollars on a new pair of shoes and it's shitty if it's fucking the guy down the street, like  just don't. Sorry, like you know, if you're having again, because the world is like more open I think,  and more accepting these days, which is great, like if you're having desires that are outside the  context of your relationship, almost like with the Only Fans right? Like are you not into these things?  I'd really like to try these things how do we navigate that in a way that feels  comfortable? Maybe uncomfortable, not always comfortable, but like at least  respectful and consensual. Sometimes that's discomfort, discomfort is where we grow, discomfort  is where we learn, discomfort is different than non-consent, just to be clear. But how can we  navigate this together as a, because we've decided that we're a committed partnership, how  can we navigate this together so we're both happy?

Alexis:

Yeah yeah, that's really interesting and  it's also, coming back to the point you were saying about like, what we see is what  we assume is just what everyone's doing, because I've had so many conversations recently  with like monogamous friends who are like "well I mean sure, yeah polyamory is fine but like,  not everybody's polyamorous" and the conversation I always come back to is like yeah, it's not  for everybody but a lot of people just haven't considered it, a lot of people just don't  actually understand how it works, right? And they have just fallen into this you  know, marriage, kids, one man, one woman.

Colby:

It wasn't an option given to them, exactly, exactly!  Alexis: And I think people are terrified to change their mind, I guess is some of  what it is, it's this like if I consider polyamory, you know, even as a far distant concept,  as like this is a relationship structure that people have, it's terrifying for people, I think, to then, what if that's  the relationship structure I want? Because then you have to have a communication, then  you have to have the discussion, and then you're the weird one in your neighbourhood who is polyamorous, right? I do think that is a lot of the problem with, not just relationship structure but  with everything like that, it is we are scared to be different and if we think about it and realise  that actually maybe that is what we want and then we're different. Colby: Yep and if I am working with someone and we're talking about stuff like this, this is where I will  push that I almost can guarantee that the reward of living your truth, and the reward of living  a life, a love life and a sex life that feels authentic and true and amazing and mind-blowing  is worth all the risk of that discomfort. And like when I work with like, one of the things we  do is like talk about how to navigate that discomfort. So I do definitely think the risk  is worth the reward, the cool thing is I think, and one of the benefits of social media, and how we  can use social media to our advantage in exploring things like this is, like we mentioned, curating  a feed or curating an experience in social media and finding people that are living this  way that we might be curious about, whether it's like you said polyamorous, whether  it's non-binary, whether it's dating a woman. I don't, whatever it is something  that we're curious about, we think we might want to explore, we can find community in, like you said,  a social media community. We can connect with folks, we can learn from them, folks who are  a little further down the road from us maybe, we can get advice for how they might have  navigated that. It just really opens up a lot of these options that can make it. Yes it might  be uncomfortable, yes it might be scary, but we can use social media to our advantage to make it a  little less scary, which i think is really cool.

Alexis:

I think the great thing about it as well is that  if you do start following people who you're like, "okay, maybe I will consider this thing, I'm just going to follow some people and see what they're saying about it," it's a really  safe way to engage with the idea of whatever it is because you have that distance, nobody is sat in  front of you talking to you about "what are your feelings about it? And this is my experience  with it." It's a really good way to just see what is really happening a lot of the time, like  how it's playing out with those other people, and to kind of let it just wash over you and just  let yourself sit with it and go about your day and see if you think about it, and see how you feel about it without the pressure of "you need to make a decision and what will it mean if I make this   decision?" and all of that.

Colby:

And not feel like the weirdo so much because you can see that there are other people out there like having this very similar experience that you are.

Alexis:

yeah and so kind of tangentially related to that is also the issue of the censorship on social media and because, I mean aside from Twitter, obviously  Twitter is just a free for all, but especially Instagram very very big on the censorship of  specific types of naked bodies. Do you think, oh this is kind of a big question,  do you think that there should be any form of censorship of nudity? I guess if you  were designing the censorship, social media situation, what would that look like for you? Colby: Oh that's a tough question, I don't know if I'm gonna be able to answer it all the way without spending some time thinking about it, but yeah, I mean in general I'm usually like anti-censorship,  especially like because bodies are normal, like even naked, like everyone has one. Like can we  free the nipple! Like what the hell is with like just nipples on women presenting people being  like not appro... like that it's so crazy to me. And I think even going back to what  we were just saying, like if we were able to be exposed to a more diverse, more open from the get-go we might not be, you know, I'm just going to throw ages out there, 30 years old in a monogamous heteronormative relationship with two kids and a dog and wondering if we should be a kinky polyam lesbian. Like we  might, if we knew being a kinky polyam lesbian was a thing because we saw that on social media  starting from the time we started using it, we might, if we knew those options were available we  might not be stuck now and having to like change. We might have had the opportunity to just like  become what we were supposed to be all along. And people like, I also want to like be very clear, like  people do change over time, so like I might at 30 be a cisgender heterosexual monogamous person and  that might be my truth, and then by 40 I might be a kinky polyamorous lesbian, so like that's cool  too. Sexuality is not static, it changes over time but we might not, you know,  end up in these in these lives, these sex and love lives that aren't supposed to be for us because we  didn't know any better, if that makes sense? I don't know if I would do any censorship. I, you know, I obviously don't want people like being able to go live and murder  sex workers and be showing that to people because there's also a lot of shit stuff out there  right? Like we don't want people, but also like who am I to make those decisions? That feels. Alexis  you gave me too much power, I don't want to do it! Do you think, oh I have another question for  you, do you think that, because for me, I see the sexualisation of specifically female presenting  bodies as just directly tied to violence against women and I do like, for me, I think that if  we as a society generally could look at naked female presenting bodies and just go "oh look,  it's a body" and not "it is inherently sexual" there would probably be quite a dramatic  decrease in violence in that area. Do you also see that? Are there facts? Tell me there's facts!  Colby: Yes absolutely and I think like even going back to some of that research I was talking  about earlier, like other you know societies where nudity is more accepted, just like tend to be more sex positive and other you know, facets as well but there typically is  less violence because, again, it's not this like mystery thing, it's not this objective, it's not.  Like if you saw your mother's cooter all day, all the time while you were growing up, you wouldn't  necessarily like see a cooter in Playboy and be like oh. You know what I mean? Playboy's meant to be sexualised so like that's okay but like you wouldn't see every cooter. I should be saying vulva and not cooter because we should use regular terminology but I like a lot  of words! But yeah like it just, you know, and I think of when this even comes to, you know, so it  comes to society and the idea of censorship and what's okay to put you know on billboards and you  know in social media and on commercials and things like that, but it also like. This is where I'll  throw out just like note to parents, it also comes like on how we raise our children in the home and  often, I will say like this is sometimes very hard for parents to think about and maybe to change,  because it likely or could be very differently than they were raised or like how they were known,  but like you know even, like I think about like some of my friends that'll be like "oh well  the daughter can't shower with the dad, they have to shower with the mom" and stuff like  that. Like that's sending messages to children, even if we're not inherently sending  the message, but what's dirty or what's like inappropriate, or what's, you know what I mean,  about someone with different genitals than yours. And then I think it's just, it can be I think,  you know there's just a lot to that, but yes long story short, yes I definitely agree with you, if we  were more comfortable seeing femme bodies, women and all of their parts then we would, it would,  there would be less of a penchant for this like mystery objectifying. Alexis: It is really frustrating though to see like the conversations that happen around these topics and the discussions are just so often so surface level, and so well this is my knee-jerk reaction right,  and therefore that is how the the legislation should happen, and there's no no real digging. And  we saw this like, especially in the States we saw this very much with with SESTA FOSTA   and that nobody asked the sex workers, increase in sex trafficking and every sex worker I  know was like "this is what is going to happen" and everybody in the government was like "this is going  to protect the sex workers and the trafficked kids."

Colby:

No and I think that's like, just like to bring up  too, like we often, a lot of folks don't actually know that there's a difference between sex  work and sex trafficking, so I'm just gonna point that out. Like your  listeners might but if they don't like, sex trafficking and sex work are two very  different things, one is consensual, one's not. So like and that's often, but they all often get  convoluted, I think probably intentionally by folks in the legislature, because if you're trying  to protect sex traffickers and harming sex workers you're not, that's not helpful, that's yeah,  and you're also not actually protecting folks who are victims of sex  trafficking by the things you're doing, you're just making it harder for them to be  safe. Okay sorry. Yes it comes down to you know a lot of things, again like we  are we live in this very sex negative, shame based society which is, you know, a product of these very puritanical values with which, at least like the United States kind of  started, I know we say there's a separation of church and state but there is very much not  in practice and this is not even me bashing religion. Like obviously folks are free to practice whatever religion feels best for you but that doesn't necessarily mean the religious values  that work for you should be like mandated for an entirety of people who might have different values,  and that's okay.

Alexis:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. This has been such an interesting discussion.

Colby:

I agree, agree. Alexis: Thrilled that you have been on the podcast. Honestly this was amazing. Are there any tips that  you have, I don't know, I guess like three top tips to help people have healthier relationships  and also like with social media? Like to not allow social media to impact negatively your  relationships and to use it positively for you. Yeah so my number one tip is curate your  feed, like be intentional about the feeds, and this can be on just, I'm not familiar with every  single platform y'all, I'm not on TikTok so I don't know how it works, but I know at least the  platforms I use like Instagram, Facebook, like there are measures you can take to like curate your own  feeds, like you can say you don't like something, you can follow certain people, you can like certain  content, like you can do all that. So I would definitely do what I usually call like a social  media audit so you can make sure that the feed is one that's serving you best and making you feel  like your best self. In terms of relationships I think I would especially,  so I would actually like have discussions in the relationships that are  closest to you about what feels good for like social media use and so I'm thinking,  obviously I'm gonna be honest, like I'm thinking that means like in person but I  think also if you have like these relationships that are mostly online, like talk about what boundaries are for you, what would feel good for you, and then what would work for the  relationship, but sometimes just having that like, I don't want to call it a contract because the  contract feels really stiff and boring but almost like a shared agreement that is very explicit. So  Alexis you said you have a lot of relationships that have like been established and like are  primarily, you know, through social media and online, so I mean I'm gonna, so like you can tell me if  it, but even like I will be "Im usually available between 8 a.m and 10 p.m" or something like that,  like so if you message me off those times feel free to message me or whatever but if I don't pick  up it's not you, it's me. Like something like even things like that because I  do think there is a real, I think. And then my third one is going to be, I do think there is real value  in I don't know if this is even with social media but all relationships, like spending time by  yourself whether that's, I always talk about how no matter how comfortable we are with those  closest to us we are never, I promise you, never never never never never as comfortable as we are  with ourselves. But even like you know, I like to think with my husband I obviously  would say I'm super comfortable with him but like, he's not in the house and I will  walk from the bathroom to the living room with my panties down, I might not do that in you know,  I will like go get my like. Stupid stuff but like I talk about it a lot for masturbation, like try  things out on yourself before with a partner because you will be able to, you won't have to  worry about them, and them experiencing pleasure, and them feeling like you're ignoring them.   So spend time with yourself, social media audit, and make agreements with people you're in a  relationship with about your online versus offline time boundaries. Alexis: That is fabulous! boundaries, we love boundaries! Actually I will say with one of my best friends who I met online  we do have like an overt understanding that, we have had the conversation, that if they,  they can read the message but they might not reply because they do not have the capacity and that's fine, and sometimes they will literally like send me their Instagram stories and be like  just the link to their Instagram stories, just a message that's just like "watch  my Instagram stories" because they don't have the capacity to reply to me, and that's fine, we have  that understanding. But i think it is so important like you say, to actually have that discussion  so that you know what is expected and what is happening and it just saves so much, honestly,  it saves so much mental energy and anguish. It sometimes feels really like weird and corny  and cheesy to bring up, but like the long, again like the result, the long-term result is like  you're not sitting there every day, every week or whatever, for months like "did they see this?  Did they not see this? Why haven't they reached out to me? I said I was sick on my Instagram  story, why haven't they offered to like send me soup on Postmates?" Like we just don't, we won't have  to do that, it's so nice, it's free, it's freeing.

Alexis:

It is! If people want to learn more about  relationships and sexuality and all of that really good stuff, where can they find you? Colby: I am on Instagram a lot, I actually do a hump day Q&A every Wednesday, my handle is dr.colbymariez so on every Tuesday I post a story with a question box in it and then Wednesday I go  live on hump day and answer the questions anonymously, so that's usually really fun.  And then my website is colbyzongol.com easy enough. Alexis: Fabulous! I will put all of those links and I will also contact you and ask you for those sort of studies and stuff so people can check the receipts and all that kind of thing. They will all be in the show notes. Thank you so much for being here this   has been an absolute pleasure.

Colby:

Thanks for having me Alexis, this was a great conversation, so fun.

Hawke:

If you want more regular reminders to find your  own way to use social media, follow Alexis on your social platform of choice, all the links will  be in the show notes. Until next time, be a human.