Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sexters Gone Wild

As we ponder the question of whether today’s young people are more narcissistic than yesterday’s, we have recently received proof positive that they are more shameless.

The lessons of the ongoing Anthony Weiner debacle seem to have been lost on the young. A new study led by Allyson Dir and conducted by Purdue University-Indiana University suggests that sexting is commonplace between young people who are involved in relationships.

Married couples and singles are apparently less likely to participate in this thoroughly modern indulgence.

The study also shows that men are more likely to sext than are women and that women are less likely to enjoy looking at images of the external genitalia.

The Daily Mail summarizes the results:

Approximately 80 percent of 21-year-olds have received 'sext' messages, while just under 50 percent of young adults have shared nude or semi-nude photos of themselves using a smartphone, scientists said.

While some people might send a sext in the hope it will lead to a hook-up, a study has found people who are dating, in a serious relationship or co-habiting, are the most frequent sexters.

The results could mean couples are either spicing up their sex lives or cheating by sexting several people, but the research did find that single people and married couples sext least frequently.

The study said: 'Single individuals had significantly stronger negative expectancies about sending and receiving sexts compared to others who were in some romantic relationship.'

If Anthony Weiner were half his age, his behavior would be the norm.

If that doesn’t ruin your day, I don’t know what will.

Why do they do it? The study suggests:

The study found 27 percent of people said sending sexts makes them feel desirable and excited, and the study found  young people mainly felt they were 'fun and flirataceous' or said sexts are a way of experimenting with their sexuality.

Apparently, they are doing what they have been told to do, by the culture and probably by some of their professors: they are exploring their sexuality. And, sexted images also seem to function as fetishes. For a generation that got its sex education from pornography, good sex has become identified with being a porn star.

Those of us who are older and wiser have often warned of the risks involved in sexting. Anthony Weiner has provided a splendid cautionary example. Yet, young people who sext are apparently unconcerned about the possible consequences, to career or to marriage.

This insouciance tells us that too many young people are mired in the present, to the exclusion of any plan for the future. They do not see themselves functioning as adults in the real world.

It’s worth noting, because no one ever does, that the level of sexting risk depends on whether or not the sexter’s face is attached to the image. It would be interesting to study the differences between those who sext their genitals and those who include a shot of their faces.

How did it happen that this bizarre behavior became a norm? Aside from the fact that young people are taught to explore their sexuality, I suspect that many of them, seeing the shame suffered by adolescents whose sexts have been distributed to the hockey team, want to help their shamed friends to feel better.

Since shame is an experience of extreme social isolation, those who want to help out might very well sext themselves… the better to show that it’s not such a big deal, that it’s just a new version of normal behavior for young Americans.

Instead of feeling like a reject, someone that no one will ever love of respect, the person who has been caught sexting might feel like part of the crowd.

Within the subgroup of American youth, sexting has become near-normal behavior. Still, shamelessness, even in the interest of exploring your sexuality, is decadent; it signals weak character more than sexual prowess.

It means that young people are self-indulgent and self-absorbed to the point where they no longer care about how they look to others. They do not understand the importance of maintaining a public face, in acting with dignity and decorum, in placing the interests of community, company or family about your own gratification.

As it happens, this was yet another mindless lesson promulgated by the therapy culture. It is fair to call it a nasty form of narcissism.

Young people have created a subgroup that functions by its own rules. Within that subgroup sexting has become the norm. Within the nation at large and within the world entire, sexting is not the norm.

The more pervasive the practice, the less the world will esteem American youth. Young Americans are garnering a reputation for being frivolous and self-absorbed, unreliable, irresponsible and untrustworthy.

In time, people around the world will look down on young Americans, will lose respect for them and will no longer want to do business with them. They will then discover the truth in the old saying: it’s very difficult to put the toothpaste back in the tube.


Sam L. said...

Does the NSA sweep these up into a special bin to look at later?

Lastango said...

"Instead of feeling like a reject, someone that no one will ever love or respect, the person who has been caught sexting might feel like part of the crowd."

I agree -- it's a way of participating, of being accepted. So is the overuse of social media in general, whether the content is sexually-oriented or not. Among the young crowd, I doubt many will be "caught" sexting. Instead, they'll go out of their way to make sure all their enormous circle of 3D and virtual acquaintances know they're swapping racy messages and pix with someone else in their age group.

BTW, I link this phenomenon to the rise of the single-parent household. When there's little parental discipline, the kids make up their own rules. The results are always a disaster.

Dennis said...

Once sex loses its mystery, exclusivity, and its special connection between individuals who actually love each other it becomes common place. It becomes two or more people just using each other.
When something becomes common place and utile the respect for intercourse between individuals causes a loss of respect for participants.
Much of feminist dogma has been a disaster for women. It has, in most cases, contributed to a lack of respect for women, both by men and women themselves, and underpins many of the problems we deal with today.
The feminization of poverty and the growing number of single parent families are all part of the that degradation of women. caused by women. One only has to listen to the lyrics of much of RAP to see and hear that degradation. Sexting is only one manifestation of that degradation.
One should never underestimate the power of mystery and imagination in much of what defines us as human beings. It is extant in much of what we do and accomplish including the respect we have for each other. Remove that mystery and imagination at your peril.