I Don’t Get It

“Sexting” is one of those new cultural developments that seems inexplicable and very weird to me. Why would anyone want to send a revealing photo of himself or herself to another person’s cell phone, knowing that the photo could then be sent out to the world at large? Deep down, are people who engage in “sexting” really just indulging a latent exhibitionist streak, and secretly hoping that their boudoir shot gets posted to the internet?

This story discusses the “sexting” issue, quotes some rather dubious statistics — come on, have 18 percent of all female students in America really tried it? — and says the Vermont legislature is considering a bill to legalize “sexting” as between teenagers 18 and under. I imagine that the Vermont legislature will find more pressing issues to address, so I think there’s really no need to debate whether such a bill should be enacted. The real debate should be about why kids want to do it at all.

Of course, it may make sense to take a deep breath and see whether “sexting” becomes a settled part of youth culture or just a passing fad that stops as abruptly as it began. When I was a senior in high school, “streaking” was all the rage, and some kids “streaked” the last day of school. That was 1975; has there been any “streaking” in the years since? Perhaps “sexting” will meet the same fate.

Tea Time?

I’m not quite sure what to make of the “tea party” protests that seem to be popping up all over the country — there was one in Columbus recently, for example — but I think it is always a good sign to see American citizens exercising their free speech rights in a peaceful fashion. We’ll know the U.S. is really in trouble when its citizens feel that they can’t petition their government and have an impact.

It is too early to say whether the “tea party” protests have any significant political meaning. So far, the protests seem to have been relatively small, and the next round of “national” elections, of members of Congress in 2010, are still far away. Tomorrow should be a good measure of the movement’s resonance with the American people — if they are really fed up with taxes and deficit spending, they should show up to protest on Tax Day.