Okay boys and girls, here’s why the opinions of your parents, teachers and preachers don’t really matter on this particular issue.
I know. I know. Posting your naked body on the internet seems like a great idea right NOW (in that small, insular way that right now can be so very deceptive). Sexting your girlfriend is a terrific option right? But before you do any of that, there is someone whose opinion you really need to consider. And I don’t mean us moms or dads. I don’t mean the teachers at your school. And I don’t mean the Pope or the President or any of those people. Forget them. They really aren’t the one who matters.
The person you really need to think about is the person you will become. Yeah. THAT person. The person for whom the current version of you will have to get out of the way of, when he or she arrives. The person who, by the way, may not really want you to put their (younger) naked picture up on the Internet.
The older you. The next you. The person who you are going to change into.
The person you are today, right now? Gone. New person. Older, evolving, fundamentally different person. The person who will have to explain why their naked body is posted on the internet to their fiancé, and their kids, and their employer, to the US Senate Armed Services Committee, and maybe a LOT of other people. Like maybe everyone they will ever meet.
And I guess, in a way, if your old self won’t actually be here anymore, you don’t really have to care, right? If you are going to have to “get out of the way” for the new you, then you won’t have to deal with the fallout, right? That much is true. But the you that you will become? THAT you will be YOU. And that person is the one you’ll have to live with. Be.
Now, I realize that its fun to fly in the face of convention and laugh at people who council caution. Did it myself. Loved it. But I am fortunate enough not to have done it on camera and not in the age of the internet. Because the Internet is forever.
But wait, it gets better. What used to be a little bit of a problem on the Internet… that somebody you know MIGHT see your picture. That problem? Well that problem is now a certainty. Or will be very soon. Because the Internet has tagging and facial recognition software, and it has friends who aren’t really friends who might be amused by creating a YouTube video of you naked to the soundtrack of American Idiot.
And, you my dears. All of you. You are vulnerable, kind, sweet creatures. You are not designed to deal with the brutality that the ‘net will dump on your naked pictures. What felt like a liberating moment of self expression, will become a lifelong avenue via which you will forever be open to ridicule and attack. And the ‘net can be one mean-spirited place. The kinds of things some people say will leave you feeling violated and shamed. Evil people with nasty dispositions. People who do not deserve access to your wonderful intimate selves.
Please, in your real time life, explore gender, sexuality, expression of self and all the wonderful things that becoming an adult will bring. I encourage you to present images on the net that share your view of what love and life looks like for you; gay, straight gender-bendy and all points in between. But that naked thing? Wait. Exercise a little bit of caution on that one single issue.
Some day you may spend time at a nudist colony, or model unclothed for art classes. Or just be naked because it feels right and human and empowering. All of these moments will please and comfort your future self. Your bodies are wonderful magical things. You deserve to be comfortable and guilt free in them.
But for now, just hold off on the naked on the internet thing. Okay?
For a mom’s perspective on this issue, read Shannon Fisher’s I Won’t Teach My Daughter It’s Wrong to Flash Her Boobs.
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Good Men Project Executive Editor Mark Greene’s articles on masculinity and manhood have received over 100,000 FB shares and 10 million page views. Remaking Manhood is a collection of Greene’s most powerful articles on American culture, relationships, family and parenting. It is a timely and balanced look at the issues at the heart of the modern masculinity movement.
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