Riley Murdock ‘15 – Last year, RNews published an opinion piece by former staff writer Megan Ross ‘15, on the topic of sexting. RNews is republishing the article, in light of recent events at Van Hoosen Middle School, Rochester Adams High School, and Romeo High School.
The legal consequences of sexting in Michigan, according to mobilemediaguard.com are: up to 20 years for taking or asking for explicit pictures of underage (under 17) individuals, which can be charged as a felony under child pornography laws; up to 7 years if found guilty of distributing photos of underage individuals, whether of yourself or others; up to 4 years for knowingly possessing these pictures, whether intentionally or by accident (having them sent to you). Please take note of this information and the legal consequences of having elicit photos on your person.
Megan Ross ’15 –You take a final glance at the racy picture and poise your finger to hit send, about to make a life-altering choice without giving it a second thought. But perhaps a second thought would do you some good. A natural side effect of teenage angst is a deep-seated opposition to careful decision making, and that’s alright. If you want to jump out of a plane or get a portrait of your dog tattooed on your ankle, go for it. But before you send this photo, take a moment to consider the potential repercussions.
Think about the guy whose phone is about to light up with your picture. Do you think he’s going to take a quick peek and delete it? Maybe. But probably not.
Statistics show that he’ll likely forward the image to a bunch of his friends or post it on some social media network in an ill-advised effort to display his manliness.
Your picture won’t stop there.
Oh, he’s your boyfriend? Well then, by all means, send it! Naked pictures are obviously the most intimate and meaningful way to express affection. And of course there’s no chance you will ever break up. That would be ridiculous. If you broke up, he might send the picture around to get back at you for breaking his heart. But of course, that could never happen, so you have nothing to worry about, right?
Since you’re not going to worry about that, you may want to try imagining the day that you finally apply for your dream job.
You submit a flawless résumé and rock the interview. Your potential place of employment will conduct thorough background checks on all applicants. You rest well, knowing that your accounts have been deleted, along with any less-than-tasteful photographs that might hurt your chances of getting the job. But with just a few clicks, they find the picture you sent to that boy years ago.
What you didn’t know was that deleting your account doesn’t erase old information; it merely sends it into a tangled mess of cyber information. That photo is still linked to your old Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any other online records that were associated with your name, regardless of whether or not they’ve been deleted.
The internet records everything and files it into a detailed history of all online activity. New technologies have made it easier than ever to dig through that history to retrieve someone’s information. Recent studies have revealed that even old Snapchat photos can be recovered. Once you’ve posted something online or sent it to someone using the internet, you’ve destroyed any chance you had of making it truly disappear.
Considering the fact that your picture will probably be floating through cyberspace for all of eternity, you may want to think about just a few more things before you send it on its way. For instance, what if a family member were to stumble upon it while innocently surfing the internet?
Imagine your mother’s broken heart when she sees her daughter’s rebellion, or your father’s embarrassment when he sees his little girl’s display her body for every sleazy guy on the internet to see. What if a teacher saw it?
A younger sibling?
What if, in the future, your happy marriage gets thrown into chaos when your spouse finds the photo. He knows that you let everyone on the Internet see you in a way that only he should be able to see you.
Maybe none of that matters to you. Maybe you’re still under the impression that you’re invincible and all of these risks will somehow work out in your favor. Well, if you hit send, there is one thing that you may want to consider. Whomever sees the photo may see you differently.
They may not notice your pretty face, your cute outfit, or your personality. Instead they may be thinking about what’s under your clothes, because that’s what you showed them.
Is that what you really want? To be an object, a picture, instead of a person? You should respect yourself more than that. You’re worth way too much to give away for free. Besides, sometimes leaving a little to the imagination can create mystery, and guys dig mystery.