Am I Feeling Happy? Just Check My News Feed

To be honest, it was quite a struggle to settle on a topic for this next post for Plugged In & Tuned Out. For me, a good blog post is one that is written by an individual who can relate to the theme at hand on a personal level. Unfortunately, I was feeling quite uninspired by the time the next blog deadline had emerged for CIS*2050 (July 24, 2013). I was ultimately convinced that I needed to deviate away from the general theme of my previous two posts on this blog. I had gotten essentially all I could out of the subject of my relationship in my first and second entries.

I initially tried to find a lead in the futuristic topic of brain simulation/emulation and strong vs. weak Artificial Intelligence, but feared my own unfamiliarity with the field of neuroscience and computer programming would undermine the credibility of the subjective contents of my post, which would likely end up taking a philosophical twist. While one might read that sentence and think, “gee, wouldn’t that have been interesting!”, what this post wouldn’t have revealed was the mental stress I would have subject myself to in order to formulate an opinion on such a ‘heavy’ topic as the ethics behind immortality and computing. Imagine discussing over dinner whether or not you would—albeit; this is a very basic statement—like to live forever through a computer program of your brain. This question—the how, the why, the when—brings several other fundamental questions into the mix. As an academic who believes in doing thorough research before stating an opinion, this blog post would have required  intensive and very mentally exhausting research on my part in the fields of philosophy, ethics, neuroscience, and computer programming. And even then, much of the post would have ended speculatively. And above all, I am certain I would have finished the post as unsatisfied with the result as I was when first I considered the issue at surface value. If you haven’t already noticed, reader, I take writing assignments quite seriously.

So when it came to the point where I finally decided that the topic was best set aside for good, I was in low spirits. Putting the fundamental questions aside seemed lazy and irresponsible. But then again, those answers (if any) weren’t due the upcoming Wednesday.

I decided to take a small break from the hours of reading difficult articles about BigBrain, Blue Brain and the Chinese Room to check my Facebook News Feed. A dip back into mainstream society would bring me to my senses, surely! Or at least inspire my next post. Once logged in, I scrolled through the unlimited stream of photos, videos, and direct links to whatever else people were offering up that day for their status. Despite the unfaltering unoriginality of News Feed contents, what struck me this particular time is that everyone always seems to be doing somethinghanging with friends, sharing successes and milestones, trying out their new camera or drawing software, right down to simply sharing captioned pictures that are apparently ‘lol-worthy’ on one level or another. I signed out feeling no better than before, perhaps worse, and certainly no closer to completing my blog. Sound familiar?

A CHANGE OF HEART

My thoughts then wandered to my current mood. Was I… depressed? Perhaps not, but I was feeling down and lazy at best. I wasn’t procrastinating though; perhaps trying too hard was a better explanation. Although I was certain of another thing: sitting in front of the computer and abusing Google Search wasn’t going to help me.

…Or was it?

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Sometimes you just allow yourself to search exactly what’s on your mind. Call it desperation, but look where it got me:

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The link leads to a webpage that features select excerpts from Bruce E. Levine’s book, Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic: How to Find Morale, Energy, and Community in a World Gone Crazy. Intrigued, I read the webpage. And sure enough, it was through reading the words of Ph.D clinical psychologist Levine that—eureka!—a possible reason for my current mood emerged: maybe I didn’t know how to handle being unhappy.

HAPPINESS: IN ITSELF OR THE PURSUIT OF?

Levine claims that Western culture is one that “demands happiness” out of society. The pressure to be in a good mood creates a “pain over pain” phenomenon. ‘The American Dream’, i.e. the ‘pursuit of happiness’ has evolved to mean (in Levine’s opinion) “being happy all the time”. With this interpretation in mind, the opinion of Psychologist/Journalist Lesley Hazelton then seems quite logical. She explains that depression went from being classified as a weakness to an illness:

“If we were allowed to be depressed—if we could allow ourselves to be so—we might find it much easier to tolerate.”

If we cannot accept depression as a normal human response, then are choosing to ignore a part of what makes us human and subjecting ourselves to more pain then potentially necessary.

After digesting the conclusions of qualified experts, I felt a little better about my own mood. I began to realize that I may very well be subject to the very societal conditioning Hazelton and Levine spoke of. Maybe I did spend excess energy on avoiding being bored or unhappy—even for the duration of just one assignment. And upon further reflection, I realized that the expectation for my mood to stay positive throughout my work periods was unrealistic. It is realistic to be bored and puzzled during work. And although the research and write-up processes themselves are less-than-fun, the grunt work involved in assignments gives us the opportunity to learn from the wisdom of others and produce a product that eventually will fulfill needs of self-accomplishment. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt:

“Happiness is not a goal, but a by-product.”

These are wise words from someone who likely embraced all aspects of human psychological responses, even the more negative ones like anxiety and depression.

Hopefully, reader, you are feeling somewhat more enlightened about your own grasp of your feelings. But who’s to claim that the rest of modern society also recognises the chance for error in their culture’s proposed belief on happiness? Think about your own social media experiences. Who have you witnessed expressing their proposed condition of “eternal happiness” through an endless stream of status updates boasting some new purchase, or yet another photograph capturing yet another positive experience in their lives? Our self-confidence levels get a boost from the self-recognition we receive from social media attention.

Unfortunately, this ‘boost’ in happiness doesn’t appear to justify the means.

TIME REVEALS ALL

In a June 20th, 2013 telephone poll conducted by TIME magazine, 801 Americans aged 18 and older were asked what makes them happy. One of the questions (and its consensus) is summarized below in a scan from the July 8/ July 15 2013 issue of TIME magazine:

better

It appears that (ignoring the 2% of people who refused to answer) the majority of American citizens who spend a portion of their time on social media don’t feel any better for it. Curiously, this neutral 60% would include both people who view the content of others, and people who submit content for others to view. We could tentatively conclude that making ourselves looks better online generally won’t make us or anyone else feel any more self-worthy. How counter-productive, considering the current societal trend to be happy or continually seek out the state of being happy!

Another question asked the exact opposite:

worse

Aside from feeling neutral more than anything on social networks, another interesting trend emerges from this statistic when compared to the previous: more often we feel better about spending time on social media than feeling worse (38% feeling better vs. 28% feeling worse). Again, this could be from posting or viewing with self-recognition and/or self-worth seeking motives. We want to feel better about ourselves, and it shows on our profiles:

Profiles

Interestingly, the majority of Americans perceive that others modify their online appearances to make themselves look better, yet as the viewers of this so-called trickery are predominantly humble and honest netizens themselves!

…MAYBE BOTH

Are there any winners in the battle for self-sought happiness via social media? Not many, it seems. Yet we continue to sign on in the hopes of finding inspiration and self-gratification. Jeffery Kluger, author of TIME article The Happiness of Pursuit comes to a similar conclusion to Levine concerning our modern understanding of the state of happiness:

“Part of the solution…may lie not in a product or a program but simply in a better understanding of the particular way Americans define happiness in the first place.”

SHORT & SWEET

Happiness is not something to continually strive for; it is an externality of our daily activities, something to expect from unexpected sources. The odds in finding genuine, lasting happiness may be stacked against us, given our consumerist tendencies and ready access to social media and other technologies that allow us to further propagate our ‘happy’ fantasies unto others. But if we can learn to accept that our low points are an acceptable and healthy part of being expressive human beings, maybe we’d all be a little more upbeat for it, and for longer periods of time. I’m smiling now in fact, and it has little to do with meeting my deadline.

EXTERNAL REFERENCES

TIME Poll Images (scans):

Kluger, Jeffery. “The Happiness of Pursuit.” TIME. 8 June 2013: 34. Print.

Communication Technologies & the College LDR

The life of a post-secondary student is as much about meeting academic deadlines and paying off financial debts as it is about investing in human relationships. For some students, intimacy is found in the college years.

I am one of those aforementioned students, and fortunately so. As an undergrad, I had the pleasure of meeting my first boyfriend in residence. And I am by no means the only student to have done so, or will later on in their educative years. 75% of college students have been a part of a long-distance relationship somewhere along their academic paths, according to the 2012 thesis of a University of Missouri student. This phenomenon is commonly abbreviated as ‘LDR’. Even more interesting is that anywhere from 25%-50%[1] of all residence-based student relationships are long-distance.

WHAT IS A LONG-DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP?

Courtesy of morgueFile under free usage rights.

Courtesy of morgueFile under free usage rights.

Wikipedia provides a concise explanation on what constitutes as a LDR. In a nutshell, your average long-distance relationship involves the long-term separation of a couple over a significant geographic distance that prevents regular face-to-face contact between partners. With this definition, questions naturally arise. How far apart does a couple have to be for the relationship to constitute as an LDR, and for what length of time?

This definition leaves a lot of wiggle room, and rightly so. One study[1] briefly notes that many scholars choose not to specify specific miles or time duration when defining a LDR.

COMMUNICATION IS THE EVER-EVOLVING KEY

The prospect of a LDR is daunting. The pain that accompanies not being able to see your significant other every day can lead to some lonely nights and long afternoons (I can testament to this). That alone is enough to make some people steer clear of this type of relationship. And logically, a relationship without any sort of physical intimacy can only go so far.

So how do LDRs survive? Their existence alone is proof that there are ways to make it work. While visitations are an essential constant, it’s the methods that people use to bridge the gaps between meetings that evolve as technology does.

Courtesy of morgueFile under free usage rights.

Courtesy of morgueFile under free usage rights.

Despite the challenges that accompany every LDR, regular communication between lovers is quite possible. Better yet, as the ways in which couples keep in touch are rapidly improving with changes in communicative technologies, so is the quality of LDRs themselves.

PUTTING IT IN PERSPECTIVE

I am going to use my own relationship as an example. Say I made my sweetheart a drawing for his birthday, which is in two days time. The drawing is a standard 8.5 x 11 inch document size, and weighs between 50 and 30 grams with the bubble wrap I decided to include in my packaging.

Courtesy of morgueFile under free usage rights.

Courtesy of morgueFile under free usage rights.

My first option is to send it directly to his home address using the Canada Post mail service. For security reasons, the only location information I will disclose is that he lives in Ontario, which is my home province also. According to Canada Post’s Find a Rate page for Document/Letters, my gift (large letter) will cost $12.95 CAN to have it arrive on his doorstep on his birthday, encased in an XpresspostTM  Prepaid Cushioned envelope (as I don’t want it becoming wrinkled on the journey). The price of the stamp would be another 63 cents, which I accounted for in the cost mentioned previously.

Courtesy of morgueFile under free usage rights.

Courtesy of morgueFile under free usage rights.

With that in mind, another option would be to simply use my smartphone, which I already paid for over a year ago, and the free WhatsApp mobile app I downloaded to send a picture of the drawing to him, for no additional charge. With this option, I can simply give the drawing to him in person next time we meet, which also would not cost me considering that I would not personally be paying for the gas to get me there. To a similar degree, I could use my laptop’s built-in webcam to do a follow-up video conversation on Skype, also for free since I am not responsible for contributing to the home internet bill.

The point is, many modern-day college students like me have similar access to the aforementioned technologies: cell phones, internet, IM, and postage services. While literally sending the drawing is more exciting for my significant other, in the long run it is cheaper for me to simply send an image of it will my cell phone’s built-in camera to him over a free IM service. I could have factored in the price of the cell phone itself, my laptops’ cost, etc., but consider that those are long-term investments that have paid their price many times over in personal usage. This is specific to my situation;  in the long run, modern technologies are often a money-saving communication strategy when used frequently enough.

The following sections examine many of the different communication technologies available to the average-day college student in terms of their general abilities and shortcomings.

SNAIL MAIL

The Pros

  • Hand-written letters are highly personalized and intimate, both to send and receive
  • Postal services allow for delivery of tangible items and/or gifts that can be physically held and saved
  • Delivery can overcome even continental distances where applicable
  • Stronger romantic element in ‘love letters’ and other personal creative outputs (artwork, poetry, etc.) compared to other forms of communication

The Cons

  • Postal Services charge based on distance and weight of item; can be more expensive in the long-term than alternative methods of communication for longer-distanced couples and larger deliveries
  • If both parties are investing in snail mail, the periods between correspondences are quite lengthy, and risk of mail interception is higher than electronic methods
  • Visuals restricted to photographs, and auditory communication to voice recordings such as those found in some cards
  • No face-to-face contact (unless sending a device that has a recording on it, which is rather redundant in the face of free voice-over-IP services like Skype)
  • Dependence on schedule and abilities of postal service; post can become lost or damaged during shipment

Bottom Line: While romantic and personal at its best, snail mail is best left as a means to send the occasional gift or other form of tangible intimate expression, rather than as a main line of communication between partners. This is due to its long-term high cost, high dependency on postal services, and potentially long waiting periods between correspondences.

LAND-LINE/CELL PHONE CALLS

The Pros

  • Real-time voice communication between partners
  • More intimate than written words (you can actually hear your partners voice and verbal expression)
  • Certain amount of free minutes often included in cell phone plans (granted, with certain geographic restrictions in many cases)
  • Allows for lengthy discussions to occur in one sitting, often covering more content than written forms of communication
  • Smartphones can support Viber, a free calling app that uses WiFi access

The Cons

  • Long-distance call charges can quickly add up with long conversations, limiting their reliability
  • When cell phone plan minutes run out, couples are forced to either pay additional fees or choose another form of communication (in terms of land lines, the holding up of the line)
  • Time Zones and personal schedules can make finding the time to call a partner more difficult than simply sending an email or letter
  • No visual communication possible
  • Phone calls cannot be replayed without additional measures being taken
  • When using land lines, call privacy can become an issue if there are other phones in the household that can be picked up

Bottom Line: Phone calls are an excellent way to catch up with a partner or share an intimate exchange, all in real-time. But depending on where each person is located and their respective phone plans, this too can end up being an inadequate form of regular communication, like snail mail.

E-MAIL

The Pros

  • Messages can be saved and collected for reading later
  • Many (free!) e-mail services allow for the sending of attachments such as images, video clips and hyperlinks, making email a cheaper way to send photographs and even scans of written letters
  • Speed of sending is much quicker than snail mail
  • No reliance on respondent being present at moment of sending, unlike phone calls
  • Computer access can be granted for free at certain public service centers, such as libraries
  • Excellent form of communication for couples of all distances
  • E-mail clients often have reliable back-up services in the case of a problem or crash

The Cons

  • No tangible products (unless printed)
  • May not seem as heartfelt as a hand-written letter of phone call; could become boring form of correspondence over time that lacks intimacy or creativity
  • Not truly real-time
  • Depends on both parties to check their inbox and reply; if one person stops timely correspondence, the relationship could suffer
  • Must have access to internet to send and receive messages

Bottom Line: While regular access to email is increasingly common in today’s technological world, it is still outpaced by even faster methods of communication. Still, it is a feasible and reliable option for many couples separated by large geographic distances that make snail mail and phone calls obsolete and astronomically expensive by comparison to rely regularly on.

IM (INSTANT MESSAGING)

The Pros

  • Commonplace among college students; many students have cell phones to text with, making this a feasible form of nearly real-time communication for students
  • Unlimited texting included in many cell phone plans, meaning few limits or additional costs for couples in the same geographic location
  • Many smartphones support apps that provide free (or very low, one-time purchase costs) IM services that use internet access, such as WhatsApp , Viber, and Facebook
  • Ability to sext or create real-time sexual tension with images or flirty messages
  • Additional emotion can be added to messages using emoticons and smileys if desired

The Cons

  • Not a feasible option for couples separated by national borders due to roaming charges
  • Intimacy is limited to text, pictures, and video clips
  • Lengthy messages/letters are often restricted by message size limits, and as such are more efficiently communicated by email or verbally
  • Must check phone often if used as main method of correspondence; the mobility of cell phones makes them a greater distraction and disruption to daily life over other forms of communication
  • Only a certain number of the most recent messages are archived; it is up to the person to save the messages they wish to revisit

Bottom Line: Instant messaging is a convenient service that benefits couples living in relative geographic proximity to one another. While being about as personal as e-mail, IM is as close to real-time as written communication can get.

VIDEO CALLS / VOICE-OVER-IP

The Pros

  • Real-time simultaneous verbal and auditory communication
  • Greater potential for higher-quality intimacy (for a futuristic example, check out Durex’s FunderWear video!)
  • Services like Skype are free to sign up and use, and available on some mobile devices
  • Groups calls, video calls and IM often options on same service that provides the video call (service Skype is a great example of this diversity)

The Cons

  • Must have internet access and a webcam device (may need to be purchased in addition to having a computer)
  • Requires a higher amount of bandwidth vs. sending an email or simply voice calling over the same service; video quality can suffer depending on the amount of available bandwidth
  • Like any real-time form of communication, Times Zones and personal schedules must be accommodated and worked around in order to make a call and have a real-time answer
  • Complete dependence on video chat as the main form of communication between partners can lead to eventual boredom or periods of awkward silence between participants; video chat is mistakenly used as a complete substitute for real physical intimacy

Bottom Line: Free video calling services like Skype are the frontier for real-time, face-to-face communication for many long-distance couples, providing they have adequate internet services and the necessary computer hardware (i.e. a webcam). However, overuse of video calling can result in an unhealthy dependence on the service to fill physical intimacy needs that can only be met by real meetings between lovers.

AT THE END OF THE DAY

While each of the aforementioned types of communication vary in strengths, weakness, application, and involvement in modern technologies, the most important weapon an LDR participant can have at their disposal is a variety of communication options, to suit a multitude of circumstances. And of course, a little creativity.

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Courtesy of morgueFile under free usage rights.

Again, I speak from experience. My boyfriend and I face the four months of summer apart, aside from one or two weekend visits during that time. Until September’s arrival, we have been making do by texting throughout the work days, WhatsApping at home (he gets bad reception at home, I only have internet at home), and Skype Video calling in the evenings. We have even watched TV shows together and stayed in touch using IM services throughout! While we both endure the loneliness and heartache that creeps up from time to time, the distance does make us quite passionate and more appreciative of each moment we do have together. Not to mention more excited for the full-time academic season, where we will be united once again!

Granted, our own little version of a LDR is not near as daunting as couples who are more than a few hours apart, and for longer stretches of time. To each his or her own, it seems.

Courtesy of morgueFile under free usage rights.

Courtesy of morgueFile under free usage rights.

But above all else, no presently available form of technology can ever replace the bond shared by two people that get to see, hear, smell and feel each other’s presence. There must be regular, physical visitation between partners if the relationship is to last and be beneficial for both parties.

ADDITIONAL REFERENCES

[1] Maguire, C. K., and Kinney, A. T. “When Distance is Problematic: Communication, Coping, and Relational Satisfaction in Female College Students’ Long-Distance Dating Relationships.” Journal of Applied Communication Research. 1.38 (2010):27-46. Scholars Portal Journals. Web. 25 June 2013.

Sexting: Scandalous, Seductive, Or Both?

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Courtesy of morgueFile under free usage rights.

It can be as subtle as a reference to computer hardware, or as striking as a full-on nude photo. Sexting occurs via texting, photos, and video, and its instance shows no signs of letting up—whether people like it or not.

As I wrote up the draft for this blog in Microsoft Word, I was barely surprised when every instance of ‘sexting’ had that familiar squiggly red line under it, prompting me to correct my spelling. Mind you, I have the 2007 edition of Word; sexting was only added to the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary in 2012.

Most Westernized people have at least heard the term sexting before, but the general consensus on this racy phenomenon is less clear.

GIVE IT TO ME STRAIGHT, DOCTOR

In fact, a 2008 online survey conducted jointly by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and CosmoGirl showed that 20% of teens aged 13-19 have submitted nude or semi-nude images of themselves online or over a mobile phone. Among a slightly older demographic between the ages of 20-26, that percentage only increases to 33%. The population under study was 1,280 strong, including 653 teens and 627 young adults.

Explicit text messages are even more prevalent than images. The same study concluded that 39% of teens and 59% of young adults have sent or are sending suggestive texts. Interestingly, the instance of sext receivers is greater than those who send them out into cyberspace. 48% of teens and 64% of young adults receive sexts.

Comparing the percentages over giving and receiving textually suggestive messages for both demographics, one can see that there is a higher frequency of giving sexts over receiving them in both teens and young adults. This correlates with the idea that people are offering up sexy content in the hopes of hooking up or pleasing a long-term partner, and that sexting is often times a one-way form of communication. But this not always true; from the study mentioned above, 40% of teens and young adults say they have been shown a sext that was not originally meant for them. 20% have shared a sext against its originally private nature.

This is where problems can arise.

‘ENTER’ IS FOREVER

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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Copy and Paste are a deadly one-two punch. Back in your high school days, you may have posted that revealing image exposing your cleavage to a social media site in the hopes to gain some much-desired attention from your peers (if you posses the necessary lady parts, that is). But you grew up (so to speak), and have since deleted the embarrassing photo. It may be out of sight on your profile and therefore out of mind, but how many other people took advantage of CNTRL+C and CNTRL+V before you SHIFT + DELETEed? Sorry; comb the online help forums all you like, but there are no keyboard shortcuts to clean up that mess once it exists.

And this example has consequences that sometimes surprise people. After all, it’s all in good fun, isn’t it? What is one skanky little photo going to do to hurt someone?

End their life, apparently.

THE EXAMPLES OF PARSONS AND POTT—SEXTING GONE VERY, VERY WRONG

The ramifications of sexting have a great dependence on their context. Who said the subject(s) of sexts had to be intent on their creation and distribution?  Audrey Pott, age 15 and Rehtaeh Parsons, also age 15 took their own lives as the result of individual cases of sexting gone horribly wrong.

After a sleepover that involved significant levels of alcohol consumption, Potts was left to piece together the events that led up to her sexual assault that same night. After combing over social media in attempts to reach the truth, it came to her at school later that week in the form of a mass-distributed sext that she did not give the consent to be created.

The case of Parsons is strikingly similar to Potts. Alcohol was consumed, she wound up in a regrettable position, and—snap!—the photo was taken that would be dispersed and consequently ruin her life in the worst way imaginable.

These are just two very recent cases of sexting without a happy ending. There are more cases out there, and in all cases grim endings are met not only by victims. Sexual battery charges, child pornography distribution charges, sex offender registration… need I go on? These are the fates that can befall the perpetrators of foul sexting activities.

So what does the Law say about this subculture of cyber bullying?

LAYING DOWN THE LAW

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Courtesy of morgueFile under free usage rights.

In a recent article by the Sunday Morning Herald, the difference between sexting and pornography was briefly explored. Current handheld technology is outpacing the cyber bullying and pornography laws officials have to work with when charging perpetrators, particularly in the United States. The result: teenage registered sex offenders. Some legislative action has been taken in some states to ease up on the punishment for minors caught sexting.

In Canada, the Supreme Court excluded from the Child Pornography Provision the instances of “self-created expressive material” and “private recordings of lawful sexual activity.” Curiously, the word sexting itself does not appear once in the Criminal Code of Canada, as a simple search of the word on the Justice Laws Website reveals. McGill University website Define The Line attempts to clarify things for us, only to come to the conclusion that the Law as it currently stands on the matter is “arguably unclear.”

What is clear, however, is that charging minors with Distributing Child Pornography is not what Canadian Law intends to do with most sexting cases. The Law—and its subsequent sentences—are intended to severely punish adults, not teens. Nevertheless, sending nude photos of persons under 18 years of age is still considered a criminal offence, no matter what age you are. Sext at your own risk, it seems.

For further explanation on sexting and the case of minors in terms of Canadian Pornography Laws, check out  Sexting: Considerations for Canadian Youth by sexualityandu.ca.

BUT IS IT ALL BAD?

The short answer is… no. For the right persons, sexting can have benefits when the proper precautions are taken. Sound familiar? (wink wink, nudge nudge)

When done between two trusting partners, sexting can be a great way to build upon a growing relationship. Maybe a spontaneous, dirty-talking text from one’s significant other is just what one needed to keep alert through the remainder of another long lecture. Can’t be together before a date? What better way to build up a little positive sexual tension before the big night than some sly textual bantering? Or maybe long distances have forced two lovers apart, and a racy image is all that is needed to rekindle a flickering flame. When done the right way for the right reasons, sexting is no different from how sexual humans interact with each other in person.

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Courtesy of morgueFile under free usage rights.

It is up to one’s own discretion to determine if a receiving partner is trustworthy with suggestive material.

  • Will they promise to abide by your restrictions?
  • What about the possibility of a break up? Once you send it, it’s in their hands to do whatever they please, which could be against your original wishes.
  • Communication is critical towards laying out the “ground rules” for such activities; who is allowed to see and who the material can be shared with are all aspects that should be covered if sexting is something partners wish to enjoy.

A person’s age is another factor to consider that was discussed in the above section. Minors must be aware that if their material goes outside of their control (unintentionally or otherwise), they could be in danger of criminal charges if caught.

Furthermore, one’s own set of morals—possibly influenced by a religion—should also be taken into consideration, as well as one’s ability to handle the potential consequences of sexting gone awry. While sexting can be pleasurable, it can also get out of hand quickly.

AFTERTHOUGHTS

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What do I make of this mainstream type of media messaging?

Well, I’d be outright lying if I said I haven’t sent a sext or ten of my own. But I am not a minor, and I have discussed the matter with my significant other. We are both aware of the consequences, and I have outlined my expectations for him. From there, it’s simply a matter of trust and honoring our agreement. And fun, of course! If there wasn’t some sort of enjoyment factor involved, I wouldn’t be representing that 39% of teens aforementioned. If the numbers hold true, that is. Sexting is still an emerging concept in today’s rapidly evolving technological world, and the numbers are probably fluctuating just as much as the rate of current technological innovation.

But who knows? If things ever do go south in my own relationship, maybe I’ll be eating my words one day when I am informed my panty-clad bottom has appeared on the latest /b/ thread of 4chan*. Touché, Internet.

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Courtesy of ravenarcana on deviantart.com.

* DISCLAIMER: this link may contain material that is offensive to some viewers. Follow at your own risk!