Savage Love Letter of the Day: Will My Sexts Come Back to Haunt Me?

Comments

1
Although Dan may be right that "at some point, even employers won’t care, because these will be so common" I don't think that point in time is even close to being here yet, especially in red states or less urban areas where paranoia and a belief in the inborn right to control other people's thoughts and actions still runs rampant. Don't believe me? Listen to the Republican message (yikes!) and then watch how many states turn red on election day. They all are buying into that shit! In reality, nude shots or even sex videos may not matter to some employers, but they still will cause major havoc for others (elementary school teacher, for instance). Think long and hard about the kind of job you are pursuing (both now and maybe twelve years down the road.) Don't be so naive as to think that there is no way these photos won't come back to bite you in the ass. Murphy's Law says they definitely will. "Mathy businessy career" does not equal "Skateboard Designer," "Whale Trainer," "Dildo Tester" or any other type of job where a little porn in one's background is actually viewed as de rigueur. So do what you want, but weigh it on the scale of "Is having photos of my tits & ass floating around in cyberspace forever really worth it?" first.
2
Is this another situation in which consequences are much worse for African American kids? Whatever happened to that poor kid from the podcast who was charged as an adult for corrupting a minor (himself).
3
Whee!!! The easiest way to solve this is to finally rid ourselves of our shame-based approach to sexuality.

No, it won't happen overnight, but it is encouraging to see the issue laid out naked for all to see.
4
Guns ok... naughty pictures not ok.
5
@2 (emma's bee): The kids must likely to be targeted are typically the ones whose parents raise a fuss. Often it's parents who get the authorities involved, to try to retaliate against the boyfriend/girlfriend as a perceived "corrupting force" (their own little angel independently having a sex drive? inconceivable!), or to regain control of a teen of whom they feel they've lost control.

So which kids are at risk? Those with the parents in demographics likely to be of the "helicopter" / "pearl-clutcher" variety. Typically upper-middle-class.
6
"At some point"

This point will occur long after they have an opportunity to damage LW materially. Either embarrassment or career opportunities or something. She should ask the partner to delete the photos.
7
@5 this is really one of the most ignorant posts I've seen on SLOG quite a bit... Anyhow, the short answer to @2 is yes. You might want to read up on Genarlow Wilson.
8
The uber conservative state senate of Kansas, of all places, just advanced a bill that would decrease the penalties for teen sexting: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2016/feb/22…
9
@5, even given all of what you say, it means kids *whose sext partner* has pearl-clutcher parents are at more risk. The 'suspect' being black adds risk separately.
10
Sorry, Fetish @7, XiaoGui @5 is absolutely correct. When I was 16, my mother searched my purse and found some joints. She decided the appropriate response to this was to turn me in to the police. She must have been exceptionally confident that I'd be let off with a warning, because if she was worried about my college prospects a drug possession conviction was certainly not going to help. Same thing would have happened if it were sexts (not that I had anything resembling a sex life, or a figure, at that point) and my mother was exactly the type Xiao describes.

Has anyone thought about common-sense penalties for underage sexting, if underage sexting is indeed going to be considered Wrong? An up-to-three-month ban from owning a mobile seems vaguely appropriate. Being listed on the sex offenders register for having healthy teenage hormones and access to technology, really really not.
11
How about not giving kids mobiles while they are under age. Just a basic, prepaid one is enough so they can ring for lifts or emergencies etc.
I love pearls.
One of my boys was busted selling dope at school. Think he and some mates were growing plants in a near by bit of bushland. He was expelled. Police involved. Luckily, the solicitor somehow managed to help not get his name on any list into the future.
He went to TAFE (college), became a carpenter and god is he an asset around the place, when he's home. He's just headed off to work and campervan round the country with his English backpacker gf.
12
Guess they can sext on basic mobiles too. How about authorities and parents mind their own business.
It was much easier with adolescent love letters.
13
Agreed on 1 and 6: At 20, LW's going to be trying to have a career before society pulls its head out of its own (and other people's) ass(es). Plan accordingly.

Agreed on 5 and 16 as well: The parents most likely to call the cops on their own kids, or their kids' friends, are distinctly white.

Possibly because parents of color are much, much less likely to be idiotically naive about what police are, and what the results of interacting with them are likely to be. Calling the cops because your kid did something inappropriate is an exceptionally white thing to do. Even most white people aren't white enough for that.
14
@5 @7 @10 Anything besides anecdotal evidence and conjecture behind these opinions? I can't find any statistics on this.
15
@11 That bell will never be unrung.
16
@11 - "selling dope".

I'll bet he still smokes weed. All because of you.
17
Certain comments seem to have veered into sexting by minors, which LW is not. So to refocus on her question, there is a sense that this could have an detrimental impact on her employment prospects in the future, but I am unaware of any company that currently searches the Internet for nude photos of prospective or current employees. I have heard of companies that were at one time asking prospective employees for passwords to social media sites, however, I understand that practice to have been ended. That doesn't mean that employers aren't reviewing publicly available social media posts of prospective employees, but in any event that search has a different focus.

So my question is whether anyone knows of any corporation whose employment policies address this, or whether anyone knows of someone for whom this kind of consensual exchange of erotic photos resulted in employment issues later in life.
18
A lot of commenters here (unlike Dan) are forgetting that the letter writer *is already in college*. None of the legal issues apply. This is a discussion of professional and social consequences

I agree with Dan that, for an adult, professional and social consequences of naked pics are not particularly severe, even today. As Dan says, in the future it will be even less of a big deal. As an employer, it would not affect my hiring decision at all.

For evidence of today's indifference, consider the case of famous American football coach Rex Ryan. His kinks briefly splashed on the news, everybody more or less ignored it, and he successfully changed jobs afterward.

Reference: http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/201…
19
Sublime @17: Just to point out, it was Dan's advice that veered so strongly into sexting by minors. We're not guilty of outrageous tangents... this time.
20
While the consequences may not be particularly severe for LW, I think it is a mistake to assume that the majority of employers are as blasé about this issue as are the majority of Savage Love readers. LW is not looking for a job as a Football coach, as in #18. So if she's competing for, say, an MBA level finance job at a big old conservative bank, and the hiring manager searches her name online and turns up a bunch of naked pictures, she just may lose the job to somebody who "fits in" a little better with the corporate culture.

I'll admit this scenario is not likely, but she wrote in to ask how serious of a problem this could be, and I think she should know there are still potential negative consequences.
21
@20Scum, "it is a mistake to assume that the majority of employers are as blasé about this issue as are the majority of Savage Love readers" exactly my point as well. Dan is so far to the left on this one he's completely off the page, and while most of us commenters would like to live in a world where this kind of stuff would be greeted by a universal shrug of the shoulders, we don't (yet). "Sextereat Emptor"
22
I've got to jump on the "Dan's over-optimistic" train. I think we can safely assume some employers don't care now and more employers won't care in the future, but I wouldn't assume that in 10 years it still can't be an impediment. Even more, if the Letter Writer is going to be working for government contractors they can find themselves running into whatever roadblocks the GOP has managed to put up in order to punish people (who aren't rich white men) who have fun with sexuality.
23
@20 For what it's worth, big old conservative bank is where most of my career has been, and we aren't going to care about this stuff. HR procedures here or at any large institution will act as a limit also.

A small local or regional bank, eh, maybe. Even then I kind of doubt it. The vast majority of people and institutions -- even reputationally conservative ones -- don't really care. The main career paths I would worry about having issues in would be (a) grade school teacher or (b) church employee.

As you say, however unlikely, there are potential negative consequences. But that's a useless statement -- one must compare likelihood and magnitude.

There are potentially negative consequences to driving across town to meet a friend as well (car accidents) but they are minimal compared to the benefits of enjoying time with our friends. I view this situation as similar.
24
Just to clarify, sexting isn't illegal, child pornography is illegal. We're just at a point now where it's other kids instead of just adults asking/forcing/persuading/blackmailing kids to take sexual photos. The current laws against child porn were made for adults and are now being enforced on minors. I don't think there's any point where the general public would be ok with legalizing underage pornography but how we deal with underage perpetrators should be different than adult pedophiles.
25
Life is long and you never know which way the political or social winds will blow. When you are 20, it's hard to imagine what you might want when you're 40. I have a friend who was a pretty unmotivated 18-22 year-old college student. Although she graduated, her GPA was not impressive. As a 44-year-old, she wanted to become a nurse. Since her bachelor's degree was in liberal studies, she had a lot of pre-requisites to take before she could apply to nursing programs. She took all the hard courses: biology; anatomy; physiology; organic chemistry; inorganic chemistry; pathology. She got either As, A-s, or B+s in all of them. Then she looked into applying for a nursing program at a local state university or community college. Guess what? Her GPA was calculated to include her entire undergrad grades from up to 25 years previously, and it simply wasn't good enough to qualify for admittance into an impacted program.

I tell this story to say that there is no telling for sure what will be important to whom in 25 years--nor even that anyone will know at 20 what she wants at 45. I understand that you can't anticipate everything. But if there is a known risk that your actions as a 20-year-old can harm you when you're 45, I don't think you should do them, especially if the actions' benefits are so transitory. The reality is that there are still jobs where the presence of old dirty pictures will be a problem.
Not everyone is as open-minded as the readers here. The world is changing, but it doesn't always change as quickly as we would like it to, and it doesn't always change in the direction we would expect it to.
26
I miss Polaroids.
27
ALSO LW...
Although you trust your partner completely now, what happens 5 years down the line when his new jealous / borderline psycho wife finds your forgotten photos and posts them / sends them to your family / employer / church congregation out of revenge? Think that's unlikely? My ex-wife and I were looking at old (innocuous) photos and I told her that one of my girlfriends from 15 years ago was married at the time. Guess what? Ex-wife's best friend's husband just happened to be best man in affair-girlfriend's wedding. I had no idea there was any connection (ex-wife and affair girlfriend were worlds apart – or so I thought), and to my shock and regret, ex-wife immediately blabbed to the husband causing him to divorce my old girlfriend, destroying our friendship that had survived the affair and indirectly leading to my own divorce as (among other things) I never really trusted my ex-wife after that.
28
I doubt people will ever lose interest in naked pictures even if they are common. (Aren't they common now?) Even if an employer doesn't officially care about them, co-workers certainly would and the possibility of sexual harassment, especially for a woman in a "mathy" field, would worry me. I would not trust an employer to do the right thing and protect the woman.
29
@27: "Although you trust your partner completely now, what happens 5 years down the line when his new jealous / borderline psycho wife finds your forgotten photos..."

I was assuming that was included under "security stuff." But if it wasn't, then yeah... LW needs to think hard about stuff like that.

If LW's looking to be a football coach, that might not be a problem. Probably a lot of other jobs, though, where you'd risk losing everything if it came out. We should all remember that the risk isn't just employers Googling you--the risk is someone else going "public" with it and an employer deciding they need to fire you to avoid drawing the wrong kind of attention.
30
@10 I see that Xiao's made up stats jibe with your anecdotal evidence.
31
A lot of the usual commentators have chimed in, but so far no one has identified any case in which an old nude photo has had the employment repercussions which everyone fears. Digital cameras have been incorporated into phones for more than a decade, and we know that large numbers of people have sent or received erotic photos. In light of this, one would expect that there would be a least a few high-profile cases in which this behavior would have led to negative employment outcomes. The absence of such stories doesn't prove it has never happened, but I think by this point there would be more evidence than pure speculation that there might be negative consequences in the future.

@27/DonnyKlicious: Telling your wife you were having an affair with a married woman - even if you assumed that (1) your wife wouldn't care and (2) your wife did not know anyone in common with this woman - is not analogous to this situation. @25/nocutename: Likewise, this scenario is not analogous to the LW's question.
32
@31 Just included that story to demonstrate that you never know what consequences might spring from past actions, sometimes years removed from the actual event.
33
And its totally analogous as an old photo triggered the whole mess.
34
@31: Type a collection of words like "teacher fired nude picture" or something into Google. Of the first few thousand hits, about half seem to be due to sexting students, and the other half are about something like what the LW's doing.

This seems like an easy thing to do before claiming that no evidence exists, doesn't it?

Full disclosure: I didn't actually look at thousands of examples, because it's boring and depressing. Google produced several hundred thousand results. Ugh.
35
@16; sperifa. I think there's a joke in there somewhere. Just can't see it.
He doesn't really smoke dope much anymore. He and his English gf have gone all juicy, as in the carrot and spinach variety.
Can't go off building in the hot sun from 6am, stoned.
Is sending naked pics so the boyfriend can jack off to it, is that why this trend has happened? I'm sure this doesn't stop him from finding other pics.
36
@31 SA. Aren't you the correct subject police today.
A friend of mine found some erotic photos of his mother once. Wouldn't that scar you for life.
37
@31: SubmlimeA: I don't suggest the two are completely analogous but wanted to say that things we did or didn't do in our youth often have a way of coming back and biting us in our asses in midlife.
I don't know where you're looking, or what you're thinking, but there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of cases where old nude photos have caused great consternation to their subjects many years later. The lw was asking for advice. Several of us are suggesting that she be cautious.
Not that it matters. Letter writers probably rarely take Dan's advice, and they surely never take the advice of the commenters if they even read the comments. Most letter writers are undoubtedly seeking confirmation for things they are doing, have already done, or have made up their minds to do.
38
@36Lava ...I don't know, my mom was smokin' hot when she was 20.
39
@31/DonnyKlicious: Your circumstance is distinguishable. Having sex outside of one's marriage without permission is generally viewed as being wrong. In other words, the existence of your photo in and of itself was not problematic, rather there were other factors in your story which led to the negative outcome. That your story involved a photograph doesn't make it analogous.

@34/Eudaemonic: No, the burden of proof in on those stating that a negative outcome will occur, not me to demonstrate that negative outcomes will not occur. As such, I've only asked people, fairly I believe, to think about what the negative outcomes are for LW, and to state them, rather than merely parroting that something bad will surely happen some time in the future. The evidence you've presented suggests that LW shouldn't expect to go into teaching. (We can also surmise President and Congresswoman too.) While that's a valid point, it sounded like LW was more concerned with a private sector career, where the sensitivities are very different.
40
@39: Because it apparently needs to be spelled out:
There are careers for which having it come out that nude photos of you exist ends your career.
No one knows exactly how many.
She's 20, which means she has no real idea what career she's going to end up in.

That means she should be very, very careful about letting nude pictures of herself out into the world.
41
SublimeA, I don't think that "something bad will surely happen some time in the future;" I just think that at 20, there's no way of knowing what you may want at 25, or 30 or 35, or 45, and that there are several possible ways in which having naked pictures of yourself accessible could be an impediment. I am hardly an overly-cautious person, but I would advise some caution.
42
@40: Eudaemonic, our posts crossed.
Yes.
43
Oops, SA has become a robot.
LW: to answer your question, Yes. Stop sending nude photos. Your future children. Mother-in-law. Employers. Will see you naked. Do you want that?
44
The TL, DR version: Be careful about doing things that might fuck up your future. Sexting is one of those things.

The key part is "might." Something doesn't have to be a guaranteed life-fucker-upper to be worth not doing. Taking a significant risk for a small gain is seldom the right choice.
45
Fetish @30: That's funny, I don't see any made up stats.
46
@43/LavaGirl: Sorry for making everyone think hard.
47
SA. I didn't have to think hard at all.
My brilliance comes naturally, pops out of my wisdom and experience.
Do. You. Compute? I understand Robot. Just another skill
I've picked up along the way. Kisses on your shiny chrome casing.
48
@45 rully? Here's a handy list:

*Often it's parents who get the authorities involved


*Which kids are at risk? Those with the parents in demographics likely to be of the "helicopter" / "pearl-clutcher" variety


*Typically upper-middle-class"



49
30 is kind of hilarious, if you go back and look at it. Fetish accused someone of posting made up stats, and sneered at anecdotal evidence. Meanwhile, nobody posted stats (made up or no), and Fetish's only evidence was literally one anecdote.

It's kind of awe-inspiring. It's like the Donald Trump's Hair of forum posts, only shorter.
50
48 is equally hilarious. Do you know what a stat is?

I'll give you a hint: They involve numbers. Now look closely. Do you see any numbers?
51
Amen. Even today, it's hard to see how a company of any size could possibly fire their employees for having nude photos in existence. A lawyer would eat that shit for lunch.
52
I think leaving your face out of the pics helps a lot.
53
@50 such a limited imagination! When I see words like "often", "likely" and "typically" I presume there's a number back there somewhere. Of course, there isn't, which is why these are made up, and therefore, complete nonsense.
54
"When I see words like "often", "likely" and "typically" I presume there's a number back there somewhere."

Don't you think doing that is kind of stupid?
55
Eudaemonic @54: No.

If I say, "Men often shit directly into their partners' mouths," "Babies typically drive firetrucks, not SUVs" or "The person who invented circumcision was most likely asian," you are going to ask me what my evidence is because it kinda sounds like I'm making stuff up but my direct assertions sound like I think I know what I'm talking about.
56
@54 Typically, I think you're stupid.
57
I understood what you were saying, Fetish. And like Fan, I thought it was funny. Maybe using the word stats was misleading.. but hey, shorthand.
58
Fetish @48: Those are not stats. Unless "stats" has somehow become shorthand for "statements" rather than "statistics."
59
Eud: My hat is off to you, sir, for not letting our previous disagreements mar your objectivity when someone else is clearly wrong.
60
It's entirely possible both that XiaoGui is correct about children of white, upper-middle-class, pearl-clutching parents being most at risk of being turned in by said parents, AND that Fetish is correct about black kids being most at risk of disproportionate sentences. These two theories are not contradictory.
But only one person has resorted to calling other people stupid. That immediately strips one of credibility.
61
How much fun is taking nude pictures of oneself and others? How much is it worth to you?

Having sex as a teenager I understand. That's fun, hot, a learning experience, all the good things. (Or it should be, or has the potential to be, or is something you don't want to miss out on if that's where your sex drive takes you.) I wouldn't counsel a young person to give up on sex because there might be repercussions down the line. The benefit is too great.

I'm not sure the same risk:benefit analysis applies to naked pictures. Is taking them and having them on someone else's phone really that much fun that it's worth it even for a very small risk? I'd say no, but I'm an old fogie who wouldn't know.
62
@55: When someone is extremely obviously describing an impression they have, it seems terribly stupid to imagine that they're talking about statistics, and then claim that they made up those statistics.

If you decided (against all reason) to pretend that someone else is talking stats, then they are not the one who made up statistics.

63
@59: Appreciated. When I hear this from people, though, I always wish that (during our next disagreement) they would remember that they know for a fact that personal issues don't affect my judgement.

Everyone seems to have no problem noticing this when they do agree with me. ;)
64
Not being American, I've no informed perspective to offer to LW on her issue.
What I find baffling reading Dan's reply is all that stuff about kids being prosecuted for having pictures of their own bodies on their own phones.
That is absurd. It would be like prosecuting a raped woman because she wore a short skirt... No, wait, that truly happens in real life!
If the problem is the blackmailing, why not take an innovative and surprising action, like, say, punish the blackmailer and not the blackmailed??
65
Your past will come back to haunt you, especially if you believe in God and have a conscience, but reject the morality He presents in Scripture. Political correctness is not reality. It is a self-centered theory that the far left wants to force reality to become, to serve their personal selfish ends. But only God can create reality. The more you insist on living a self-centered life, the more you attempt to live against Nature, and thus against God. The far left will never admit any of this, for the left imagines itself the highest form of intelligence in the Universe. A three year-old with a telescope knows better. Everything we do has two sets of consequences: now and later. Selfish behavior feels good now, but comes back to haunt us in the second half of life. This should be obvious to any objective observer of society. However, those who have made permanent, irreversible, self-centered choices (such as convenience abortion) will fight that reality as the Old South fought desegregation. I hope you will separate yourself from extremism, regardless of how popular it is, think for yourself, and live creatively and helpfully. Now, excuse me while I get my head down, to avoid the stones thrown from the Land of Love, Tolerance and Open-Mindedness. Note how the far left is tolerant of everyone...except people to their right: most people.
66
@64: "What I find baffling reading Dan's reply is all that stuff about kids being prosecuted for having pictures of their own bodies on their own phones.
That is absurd. "


Pretty much. It seemed to me like prosecuting a woman for masturbating while drunk.
67
Eud @63: With the respect that you've now earned, calling people "lying shitstains" is evidence that personal issues are affecting your judgment.
Just because they don't always affect your judgment doesn't mean they never do.
68
@65: [citation needed]