Bleats

Holding Hands When You're Married Is Still Shady, Justin Timberlake

Just friends, or more?

If you’re married, is it okay to hold someone else’s hand? It’s a question the Internet is attempting to answer after Justin Timberlake was papped holding hands with his co-star Alisha Wainwright.

The pair, who play lovers in their upcoming film Palmer, were filmed and photographed on a night out in New Orleans holding hands, touching knees and getting cosy. To make matters worse, Timberlake had also ditched his wedding ring for the occasion.

According to The Sun, sources say, “they were smiling and laughing. At one point he grabbed her hand and rested it on his knee. She then gently started stroking his leg.”

“Then he clutched her hand with both of his and was playing with her hands.”

Since the photographs and footage surfaced, reps for Timberlake and Wainwright have denied rumours that there is anything romantic going on. In a statement to Page Six, a source close to Timberlake said “he was on an open balcony. They were among friends. It was nothing. There is 100% nothing going on.” 

Whether there’s something going on between JT and his co-star or not, it begs the question: what constitutes as cheating? 

In a 2018 interview with Women’s Health, a range of experts outlined the different kinds of cheating. According to relationship expert Esther Perel, cheating typically involves at least one of these three elements: secrecy, emotional involvement, and sexual alchemy. 

The feature states that examples of cheating include being physically intimate outside your relationship, harboring feelings for someone else, fantasizing about someone else, hiding your money habits and having secret social media habits. 

While there’s no way of telling whether Justin Timberlake and Alisha Wainwright’s hand-holding and knee-stroking was “emotionally involved” or intended to be kept a secret, you could argue it’s technically being “physically intimate” outside a relationship.

Romantic or not, holding hands with another woman feels like a pretty bold move if you’re happily married. No word from JT’s wife Jessica Biel on the cheating allegations, but I’m guessing there are some long conversations happening in the Timberlake household right now.

People Are Using Virtual Reality To Bang Their Exes, Minus The Consent

It's time for a (virtual) reality check.

There’s no doubt that unrequited love is all kinds of painful, but if it means you’re digitally replicating your ex-partner into a 3D avatar for sex – you might be creating more problems than solutions for yourself.

According to a new report from Vice, there’s a new “community of 3D graphics hobbyists” who are creating and selling avatars resembling real people for the purpose of fulfilling a sexual fantasy.

The avatars, that are sold via forums on Reddit, Patreon and other websites, can be “articulated into any position, animated, modified, interacted with in real time, and manipulated in ways that defy the constraints of physical reality.”

While they’re nowhere near as sophisticated as those scary deepfakes floating around the Internet, these 3D avatars are equally-as-frightening because “many hobbyists seemingly make avatars, of anyone, with or without their consent.”

Vice noted one Reddit user saying they use their 3D avatar to “fulfill my sexual fantasies or replicate sexual encounters with my ex-girlfriends.” Apparently, celebrities are also a common occurrence in the 3D avatar world, and Vice has found dozens of them online, including Emilia Clarke, Natalie Portman, Emma Watson and Nicki Minaj, most under the guise of a nickname. 

The obvious problem here is consent. Does the ex-girlfriend, celebrity, or stranger know they’re being made into an avatar for sex purposes? 

In 2017, Newcastle University researchers conducted a study on virtual reality porn and how it could cause a dangerous blurred line between real life and fantasy. 

Dr. Madelin Balaam, co-author of the research said, “our research highlighted not only a drive for perfection, but also a crossover between reality and fantasy. Some of our findings highlighted the potential for creating 3D models of real life people, raising questions over what consent means in VR experiences.”

“If a user created a virtual reality version on their real life girlfriend, for example, would they do things to her that they know she would refuse in the real world?”

This study was conducted two years ago, and it sounds like the researcher’s concerns were warranted. According to Vice’s report, we’ve already arrived at the point where real life people are being replicated in virtual reality form.

In light of harrowing rape cases like that of Chanel Miller, who was sexually assaulted by fellow student Brock Turner on Stanford University campus in 2015, consent and the rules around consent are more pertinent than ever before.

Will the same attention to real life consent by paid to virtual consent?

Silicon Valley Execs Are 'Dopamine Fasting' Cos Of Their Own Inventions

Legit or "tech bro lifehack"?

Apparently, there really is such a thing as ‘too much of a good thing.’ Or at least there is, according to the big wigs of Silicon Valley.

In a new report for BBC, tech entrepreneur James Sinka explains ‘dopamine fasting,’ a new trend that is said to “reboot your brain and make you appreciate everyday pleasures more.”

According to the report, Sinka starts his dopamine fast by swapping food for water, ditching his phone, laptop and other tech devices, and even avoiding interaction and eye contact with people as much as possible.

Why would you deprive yourself like this? Sinka believes that quick hits of dopamine make us “become numb to it in the same way someone who consumes cocaine develops a tolerance.”

“You’re trying to undo that built tolerance. That allows you to reflect and to look at the bigger picture, to reassess,” he said. “When you start to re-engage all those different stimuli, they’re more engaging than they originally were.”

What is most interesting about dopamine fasting is that it’s taking off in Silicon Valley AKA the San Francisco hub of tech and social media giants including Apple, Google and Facebook.

Dr. Cameron Sepah, a psychologist who treats Silicon Valley execs told BBC that dopamine fasting is “based on a behavioural therapy technique called ‘stimulus control’ that can help addicts by removing triggers to use.”

“Given the always-on, high-stress nature of their jobs, they are prone to addictive behaviours to suppress stress and negative emotions,” Dr. Sepah said. 

It is slightly worrying that the people behind the social media and technology we so frequently use are having to ‘fast’ from the very thing they’re inventing and innovating. It begs the question: if social media and tech gurus are struggling with their dopamine levels, what hope do we have?

Not everyone is convinced of the effectiveness of dopamine fasting, either. Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry Joshua Berke told BBC it’s a “fad, not a controlled study,” and some are suggesting “dopamine fasting is simply Vipassana meditation rebranded as a “tech bro” lifehack.”

Dan Lyons, the writer of HBO’s TV series Silicon Valley, suggests society is too quick to believe Silicon Valley trends. 

“Somehow we all buy into this notion that these people are smarter than the rest of us,” he said. “That they live in the future, that they see around corners – all these cliches. We buy into it and they sell it…If this fad were taking place in the auto industry in Detroit right now, would any of us be paying attention?”

There’s no harm in going on a ‘digital detox,’ but if it means you’re completely cutting out your friends and family for a Silicon Valley-approved dopamine hit, is it really worth it?

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