If You Were a Cute 20 Year Old Today …

Paleo Retiree writes:

… would you be sexting with your sweetie? And would the two of you be swapping sexy jpgs? To kick it up one more level: If you and your sweetie were feeling juicy and mischievous, would you be uploading naughty stills and videos of yourselves to, I dunno, a show-yourselves-off site like Reddit Gone Wild? I suspect that I’d be doing it. How could I resist the thrill of doing the dumb-and-sexy things everyone else my age seems to be doing?

I find myself wondering about these questions because … Well, partly because they’re fun to think about, but also partly because earlier today I found myself mulling over piercings and tattoos. Here’s how my musing went: When middle-class, educated kids first started getting tattoos and piercings, like many people I thought, “They’ll regret that one of these days! Plus, don’t they know that bosses will never stand for it? Bad work decision!” But, as happens so often, reality hasn’t played out according to my predictions. What has emerged instead is that, instead of the kids having to adjust to aging and the office, aging and the office have accomodated the kids. Offices today (at least media and arts/fashion offices in NYC) are full of tattood adults, many of whom also have visible piercings. Being a pierced-and-tattood person-with-a-respectable-job is no longer a big deal; no one’s life or career seems to be held back by it. The kids — well, young adults now — laugh about their ink and hardware, and have fun comparing them. It’s the new normal — the new young-adult normal.

I found myself trying to apply that experience to the nude-selfies question. The Wise Thing to say to youngsters today is, “It may look like fun now but one day you’ll regret uploading nude shots of yourself to the web.” But maybe the future won’t play along with this prediction either. Maybe one day it’ll be as common for young adults to have nude selfies floating around the web as it is for them currently to wear tattoos and piercings. Maybe one day having jpgs and gifs of yourself naked online just won’t be a big deal. Maybe young adults will be casual about it, and even laugh and compare their online histories.

Major life lesson: It’s young people, and not old ones, who generally get to define what life becomes.

Incidentally: when nudes and having-sex shots are uploaded to the web by (NSFW alert) the people who took the pix and are in the pix, doesn’t it dramatically complicate the “what’s porn and what’s not?” question? After all, who’s exploiting whom? These youngsters aren’t damaged druggies reaching for the stars, submitting to a scuzzy business and destroying their lives in the process. Maybe many of the youngsters who upload nude shots of themselves are just nice kids having today’s (or, possibly, tomorrow’s) version of good wholesome fun. And maybe the world’s going their way.


About Paleo Retiree

Onetime media flunky and movie buff and very glad to have left that mess behind. Formerly Michael Blowhard of the cultureblog 2Blowhards.com. Now a rootless parasite and bon vivant on a quest to find the perfectly-crafted artisanal cocktail.
This entry was posted in Sex, The Good Life, Women men and fashion and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to If You Were a Cute 20 Year Old Today …

  1. Will S. says:

    I dunno. I think it’s one thing to have tattoos and piercings; another to have pictures of yourself naked.

    I mean, simultaneous with the greater acceptance today of tats and piercings, we still have ever-greater PC hypersensitivity in things like appearing ‘sexist’, even outside of work; witness the two young men Adria Richards got fired for joking about ‘dongles’ (before, deservedly, she got fired); or witness the Pax Dickinson affair. There are still taboos in workplaces; we aren’t reaching an ‘anything goes’ mentality in workplaces, by any means. And I suspect corporations may still feel embarrassed if naked pics of their staff turn up in the public gaze, and clients or competitors end up seeing them. I can still imagine people getting turfed over them.

    But, maybe I’m just giving into my old-fashioned wishful thinking in this matter, hoping there still remain at least some taboos; I hate being interviewed by a woman with a tongue stud; I find myself distracted, wondering at her skills in using it (ahem). 😉 Must I have to stifle that, fight it, in order to get a job because the stupid manageresses and human resources specialists are revealing far more of themselves than they should? Bad enough to put up with that; I hope instances of ‘girls gone wild’ pics decrease, rather than increase, over time, after we’ve gotten it ‘out of our system’. (Mind you, I notice few face pics in that Reddit; maybe the millennials are smarter than we give them credit for.)


    • Hilarious image of you being interviewed by a young woman with a tongue stud. I know what you mean. I marvel too at the coexistence of extreme (to me, anyway) lewdness and extreme PC prissiness. It’s so odd to encounter the new PC definitions of sexual assault, for instance: unwanted kissing? Butt-patting? How prim can you get, to want to criminalize such activities? And it isn’t rare to run across young adults who seem genuinely horrified by what an anarchic, open-season kind of thing adult life turns out to be. Yet at the same time some youngsters are indulging in much kinkier, much freer (and god knows much more technologically-enhanced) erotic behavior than probably ever before. Is this split ever going to resolve itself? If so: in what way? Or maybe we’ll just be learning to live with complete cognitive dissonance …


      • Will S. says:

        I don’t get it. I’d rather deal with one or the other; either an uptight, ultra-cautious about everything workplace, or an ‘anything goes’ environment; not this bullshit, indeed cognitively dissonant mix of the two. Then at least I’d know where I stood.

        Or maybe, just maybe, a place that’s fairly free-wheeling once you’re there, but won’t let in people who wear their sexuality / sexual practices on their sleeve, so to speak, and which would fire any employee who appeared in porn in a heartbeat.

        IOW, what we used to have. A male-dominated, healthy, laid-back environment that nevertheless maintains certain standards.

        Far better that kind of ‘hypocrisy’ than this Brave New World Order one!


  2. The Manhattan scene you inhabit is tiny and completely opposed to the world around it.

    My girlfriend lives in suburban Jersey. The town she lives in, like many suburban Jersey towns, is majority Italian Catholic, extremely proper, and obsessed with a safe and conventional environment for kids.

    You live in the world of the childless. That world is nothing like the world of people with families. Tattoos and piercings are marks of troubled kids. This isn’t just a prejudice. It’s true. Parent ride herd pretty hard on their kids, try to censor their internet browsing and work hard to keep their kids on the straight and narrow. I’m not saying that they are always successful at this, but they try.

    You don’t see this world because you really aren’t interested in it, but it is the vast majority. To the people in my girlfriend’s town, you are just weird, and your values are something they want to protect their kids from. Not saying I agree.


  3. Now, if I were a kid, would I be doing all the stupid things kids are doing? You bet. But, I’m a complete outlier and always have been.

    I’ve been in contact with my high school classmates a lot over the last year through Facebook. A couple of my classmates fell out of the conventional world, like me. The rest of them live utterly conventional lives right out of the 50s. Most of them have been married for decades, and have children and grandchildren.


    • I dunno where you’re getting the idea that I spend my entire life in a childless Manhattan media bubble, but ignoring that … 1) Have you been to Brooklyn recently? The sidewalks in the hipster neighborhoods are teeming with infants and prams. Having babies, and having them while still young, seems to be a major hipster preoccupation. 2) No idea what your NJ neighborhoods are like, but the mid-American towns and ‘burbs I visit are full of kids with tattoos and smartphones. I think naughty-fun-with-cellphones these days is pretty much analogous to, say, pot in the ’60s and ’70s. Lots of nice middle-class kids were smoking pot in 1970. I’d be extremely surprised if a lot of today’s kids-with-smartphones aren’t having some similar naughty fun with their toys. Why wouldn’t they? Smoking pot wasn’t a big deal for 16 year olds in 1970; why would sexting or swapping nude selfies be a big deal for today’s 16 year olds?


  4. Sir Barken Hyena says:

    “Maybe one day it’ll be as common for young adults to have nude selfies floating around the web as it is for them currently to wear tattoos and piercings. ”

    Kill me now then

    Tattoos as a trend has peaked, I think. Kids coming into adulthood now connect it with 30 somethings, which means totally uncool.


    • Will S. says:

      Ha! I remember a comic book back in the 90s, in which a superhero sidekick stumbled upon his superhero buddy and a female superhero going at it, and he mentioned to his girlfriend, recalling the incident:

      “They were, they were… They’re like over 30 and they were…”

      To which she replied,

      “Ew, please! I just ate!”


  5. slumlord says:

    Astute observation about the babies in Brooklyn. Same thing is happening here. I get the impression that babies are becoming the new status symbol amongst women. Did you see the Gavin McInnes interview with HuffPo the other day? Alpha females have babies, beta females work.

    With regard to the sexting, I think we live in interesting times. Amongst consenting adults, there really are no sexual taboos left so it’s interesting to see what happens when all restraints are taken off the system. What’s blown me away is the sheer number of women who seem to have no inhibitions about posting pictures of themselves in any form of compromising position. The girls just seem to love being on show. The sheer weight of evidence basically refutes conservative notions of women of somehow being a bit prudish.


    • Will S. says:

      You’re right slumlord that it does refute such, and yet, all it seems that neocons in particular but also Blue Pill paleos like the Chronicles Mag crowd do, is double down, and blame the boyfriends for ‘pressuring’ the girls into taking such selfies. Blue Pill types would really rather teach that women have no moral agency whatsoever, that they’re always helpless ‘damsels in distress’. It’s utter bullshit, but nothing, and I mean nothing, will move them out of their pretty lies, their comfortable delusions.

      Sad, really.


  6. Toddy Cat says:

    “If you and your sweetie were feeling juicy and mischievous, would you be uploading naughty stills and videos of yourselves”

    I hate to say it, but if I was 20? Probably. I did every other stupid damnfool dangerous immoral thing that was popular back when I actually was 20, I have no reason to believe that I’d be any wiser if I was 20 today. By the way, these same “adventurous” kids are horrified when you talk about having done any drugs harder than weed. So I guess maybe posting naughtly pictures of themselves is their equivalent to LSD…. or something. Anyway, get off my lawn!


  7. Sir Barken Hyena says:

    I think seeing myself in the mirror naked is enough. No need to document it for all time.


  8. Sasha says:

    Having tatts and piercings affects only you and the people you personally interact with. But once you put naked pics on the net, they are “out there”. Potential employers/partners cannot un-see them. For that reason I think that sensible people* will forswear them.

    *Keeping in mind that most people aren’t.


  9. Callowman says:

    I find it hard to imagine that I wouldn’t have been doing sexy stuff with digital cameras if they had been around when I was young. Hell, I probably would be now if I were single. It will be interesting to see where sexual mores go re personal erotica on the net. It’s hard to believe that people in general will just shrug off spread shots, boners and cum shots in 20 years, although people in creative fields may.


  10. Adam P. says:

    It depends on where you live, where you go to work, what are your neighbours like (if they are old gossipy types or “let´s come tonight we´re having a party types”). It´s different in the big city like New York and it´s hundred percent different when you are living in the small suburb. Everyday I see many young adults having tattoos or piercings all over their bodies and I can´t say it really bothers me. It´s a choice of a lifestyle.


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