‘Sexting’: A potentially self-damning trend

Daniel Green, Managing Editor

In a world of smartphones, Instagram and Facebook, it’s not uncommon to know everyone’s business; every little detail of everybody’s life needs to be captured and posted online.

For some, it’s food, pets, a party with friends or that perfect selfie that the world needs to see. However, some are learning that there are things that should not be shared with the world, because later it will be regretted.

With this high-profile incident of celebrities having their naked photos leaked online, it has brought a lot of attention to privacy and security; everyday regular people have had naked photos leaked.

Among the leaked items, however, is “sexting.”

“Sexting is a fairly new phenomenon, but we have been doing this type of behavior for a long time, just in different forms,” Sociology professor Dianne Pirtle said.

Victim Blaming

One debate since high-profile hacking has taken place is the thought of “Who’s at fault?” or “Who’s to blame?”

Stances tend to differ.

“You shouldn’t have those pictures,” Business major Elia Baltazar said. “Somehow they’re going to get leaked or someone is going to have them or someone’s going to save them. Don’t send naked pictures of yourself. You can see that in person.”

Psychology major Kaitlyn Lauren Pedea falls on the other side of the debate.

“I think that it is very wrong that (people) are putting the blame on only the (celebrities) when it’s their lives, their bodies, their private phones and someone hacked into their (iCloud).”

She continued, “I mean, yeah, it wouldn’t have happened if they (hadn’t) taken the pictures in the first place, but so what? It’s their phones. Why should anyone have the right to take their privacy away?”

These various attitudes are not uncommon and there have been heated discussions about telling people to be safe and victim blaming.

“I tell students this is why you can’t (“sext”), said Professor Pirtle. You don’t blame the women for doing it because they thought it was private.”

She continued, “I would never blame the woman, but, unfortunately, we have to learn from it because no one else is going to do it.”

Pirtle also said that even men have to be careful about sending pictures, but that women take more blame.

“We look at men and go ‘Oh, yeah, good for you,’ and we look at women and say ‘Shame on you.’ It’s that double-standard.”

Relationships

One of the biggest concerns caused by sexting is the effect that they have on relationships and interpersonal communication.

According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, 78 percent of teenagers now own cell phones.

“The texting, the sexting, the Twitter, the Facebook and the rest of the technology used for non-verbal interpersonal communication; all of them have really taken people apart,” Pirtle said.

She has interviewed students in her classes who all agree that texting has brought them apart from their friends and families.

According to Pirtle, “Communication is the most important aspect to any relationship, and without it, relationships can really suffer. Even the most stable and established couple can have problems if they rely too much on text and lose face-to-face interactions.”

She added,“(With) texting, you’re not talking and you lose meaning. We’re losing the art of communication.”

Future

Another problem is how these online leaks or mobile connections can impact one’s future.

Professor Pirtle said, “I tell students that (employers) check, they’re not just calling your previous employers, or calling me (asking) ‘Was he a good student?’ They’re getting into your Facebook pages, they’re getting into your Twitter accounts, they’re looking at your sexting.”

Another consequence of sexting has been what happens when one of the participants is under-aged. There have been cases where one or both people involved have been charged with distributing child pornography.

“I think that this is where the future is, where we are; now we have to figure out to handle and the best way to deal with this, ” Pirtle said.