In fact, at a recent party, I noticed a group of guys snickering around the hoary glow of an iPhone. They passed the phone back and forth as if it were a worn copy of Playboy and they were 14 years old. Except the risqué photos they drooled on weren’t of Hef’s heavenly angels, but the result of grown-up sexting gone sour.
I’m guessing the poor girl whose breasts were splayed across the screen had no idea she was the object of such public affection. I’m certain her sexting with that unscrupulous iPhone owner went something like this, a la Tiger and Jamiee:
Boy: Text me a photo of your hot body.
Girl: Noooo. I don’t do that.
Boy: Please? Promise I won’t show anyone.
Boy: Cross my heart. I care about you so much. I just want something to look at when I’m thinking of you. I would never, ever, ever show anyone this. It’s a private, intimate gesture between two mature adults.
Girl: K. (texts photo of her cleavage.)
Boy: (holding phone out to every friend, coworker, neighbor and fast-food order taker he encounters that week): Check out THESE fun bags!
Sexting, the texting of sexually suggestive notes and photos, is so ubiquitous that it’s become a necessary evil of dating. (And golfing, apparently.) A huge amount of the coquetry we used to perform in person now unfolds in the electronic ephemera.
That wouldn’t be such a terrible thing, if it weren’t for the permanent trail these e-mances leave behind. (Rule of thumb: assume whatever you send will be shared with his friends and/or the entire planet.)
Not to mention the perpetual state of “or better offer” dating we find ourselves in these days.
“The cell phone has changed the nature of seduction,” writes Wesley Yang in New York Magazine. “One carries in one’s pocket, wherever one goes, the means of doing something other than what one is presently doing, or being with someone other than the person one is with.”
“To guard against this disaster, everybody is on somebody’s back burner, and everybody has a back burner of their own, which they maintain through open-ended texts, sporadic Facebook messages, G-chats, IM’s and terse e-mails.”
Scary but true. Despite these pitfalls, sexting can actually be, well, sexy. Just proceed with caution. And be over 18. And please, please, please don’t sext with anyone who’s married – even if they’ve got a Nike endorsement deal.
Carrie Seim, Betty’s L.A. Correspondent, is a writer and comedian keeping it real in L.A., New York and @ www.carrieseim.com.