I wonder if the phone companies who invented picture messaging ever foresaw how the feature might be used. Text and picture messaging has only been widely used within the past decade, and yet the term “sext” has become so commonplace in our vocabulary that it might as well earn a spot in the dictionary.
Sexting seems to be a consequence of a growing dependence on technology as a form of communication. With texting and Facebook becoming the preferred medium of communication, people of our generation are relying too much on technology to form relationships.
Mediums such as texting and Facebook have been an increasingly large part of our daily communication, and the repercussions of relying too much on communication through these outlets may not have been apparent from the beginning. Without body language and facial expressions, attempting to start a relationship can go awry from the start. Texts can be misinterpreted and misleading. After all, it is hard to know the impact a statement can have, or the subtle meanings behind words, without being face to face with the person saying them.
As if a reliance on texting isn’t bad enough, the introduction of sexting has created even more problems as it has slowly become a norm. According to Psychology Today’s website, between 20 to 30 percent of teens have sent or received a sext. Unaware of the consequences and legality of such messages, students of our generation seem to send them anyway.
I suppose with the growing use of texting as the preferred method of communication, it was only a matter of time before people started to sext. We’ve all heard the horror stories of sending such messages, and yet people do them anyway. Perhaps it’s the pressure of everyone else doing it, or maybe it has to do with the influence of pop culture. Whatever the cause may be, all of it could be prevented if people have more conversations that take place face to face.
When I hear about sexting, I can’t help but think back to the days when we used to just pass notes, innocent ones that simply said something along the lines of “I like you.” In a way, I suppose that is what people who sext are trying to convey as well. When technology replaces personal interaction, we must find ways to express the way we feel through words and pictures rather than body language and voice. This paves the way for sexting. Sending messages from your apartment or dorm away from everyone else may seem safe, and people tend to send messages they most likely wouldn’t say in person. If we limited our interactions through our phones, we likely would send far less messages we would later regret.
Next time you are on the Quad, try to walk through it without checking your phone. Maybe talk to someone you’ve never met on your way to class. Technology has a habit of isolating the user and limiting the people they interact with to just their contact list. As for sexting, most of us know not to do it, even if some still do. By straying away from interactions through technology, these types of messages would likely not occur so frequently. After all, phones and computers can never replace the feeling of a face to face conversation, which is exactly what we should return to.
Nick Ulferts can be contacted at nlulfer@Exchange.ilstu.edu.