The Courier-Journal from Louisville, Kentucky on June 12, 2011 · Page E5
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The Courier-Journal from Louisville, Kentucky · Page E5

Louisville, Kentucky
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Page E5
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Time: 06-08-2011 21:19 User: lhack PubDate: 06-12-2011 Zone: KY Edition:! Page Name: E 5 Color: Eftapfcnta FEATURES I courier-journal.comfeatures THE COURIER-JOURNAL I SUNDAY, JUNE 12, 2011 I E5 SEXTING It can be risky business to expose your not-so-private side online By Richard DrewAssociated Press Meagan Broussard, one of the women who exchanged text messages with Rep. Anthony Weiner, appears on Fox News. "Communication in this form goes back and forth like a tennis ball. So it's exciting and it moves quickly, and you're not really thinking what the implications are." SUSAN LIPKINS, a psychologist and sexting researcher anymore," she said. "It probably should be renamed the booty text." And it's not limited to those in casual sexual relationships. For those in committed relationships, Drouin found that 80 percent had exchanged sexually explicit texts. "Sexting is just one form of sexual expression," explained Debra Herbenick, a sexual health educator at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University in Bloomington. And other forms of expression can be just as embarrassing if leaked think sex tapes, or erotic poetry. "Most of the time, people's private behavior is not 'exposed' and so they feel safe, and may continue their behavior or get more explicit," Herbenick wrote in an email. "Rarely are people 'outed' for their private sexual behavior, and far, far more people have sexted than have been caught." Reporter Katya Cengel can be reached at (502) 582-4224. Reporter Matt Frassica can be reached at (502) 582-4502. get away with it." People tend to think a Twitter message between two friends is private, but nothing, except what is in our heads, is truly private anymore, Shankman said. This lack of privacy and always needing to watch our behavior may cause human frailties to come to the fore, Baldoni said. The problem is not unique to leaders, said Jason Falls, owner of Louisville-based Social Media Explorer, a website and consulting company that helps people and companies understand social media. "I think the underlying problem is that people don't quite understand that these channels, if they're not public, they're only semi-private," Falls said. You may only allow a certain number of people on Facebook to see what you are saying, but you're still broadcasting a message that others can comment on and even share. "I like to live by the rule of thumb if you wouldn't say it in front of your grandmother, don't post it," Falls said. Added Shankman: "There is no technology out there that has yet to be invented that will protect you from stupid." Increasingly common Of course, not all sexting is illicit. For teens and young adults, sending enticing photos to a love interest is just an extension of normal online activity, Lipkins said. "For the younger generation, taking pictures and sending them is just a universal form of communication." In this way, some experts suggested, sexting may be no different from doing other things to show off for potential mates like joining a garage band or stripping down for some beach volleyball. "Part of what's going on is, (sexting) is apiece of how technology is part of how we date and mate," said Lenhert, of the Pew project. "There's a desire to feel sexy or desirable. If you think you're pretty awesome and you want to share that, this is a way to entice other people to you." In relationships too But sexting isn't just for people looking to pick up someone. Michelle Drouin, an assistant professor of developmental psychology at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, has studied sexting within relationships. For people between the ages of 18 and 25 in casual sexual relationships, Drouin found, 70 percent had exchanged explicit texts, and 51 percent had exchanged explicit videos or pictures. "For comparison's sake, 86 percent had spoken to that casual sexual partner on the phone. So it's only slightly less common than talking on the phone to that casual sexual partner," Drouin said. "The start of a booty call is probably not a phone call with his wife, Huma Abedin. But the political consequences he faces stem more from his attempted cover-up than from the sexting itself, according to John Baldoni, a leadership educator, speaker and author based in Ann Arbor, Mich. "I don't care about what he does in his private life; that's between him and his spouse. But if you're going to go out and lie about it, that's an issue of public trust," Baldoni said. Weiner is not the first leader to engage in deceitful behavior or the first to forget the lessons of Watergate, where the cover-up proved more serious for many than the break-in crime. Baldoni chronicled Weiner's mistakes in "Weiner Sexting Scandal: 4 Mistakes You Shouldn't Make," on the CBS Business Network BNET It is not a new topic for Baldoni; he has written a similar story a half-dozen times over the years. "What is dumbfounding to me is so many people in both the corporate sector, as well as the electorate sector, don't seem to realize that they're making the same old mistakes that they've always made," Baldoni said. fI m Basic Replacement Dentures starting at $249 each save $150 FREE New Patient Smile Exam and X-rays, $180 savings Can not be combined with insurance Convenient on-site denture labs General dentistry including cleaning and whitening, crowns and bridges Work with all insurances Continued from El sages as only one medium among many including email, Facebook and Twitter. According to a 2009 study conducted by MTV and The Associated Press, 24 percent of 14- to 17-year-olds had engaged in "some form of naked sexting." For 18- to 24-year-olds, the figure was 33 percent. "Now suddenly everybody has a personal digital recorder in their pocket that they can use to share themselves with other people they're interested in," said Amanda Lenhert, senior researcher for the Pew study. "We forget the ways what we create can be transmitted." What are we thinking? So why do we continue to do it even when cautionary tales of powerful people brought down by sexts are so frequent? "I don't think (people) perceive it as risky," said Susan Lipkins, a psychologist who has researched the topic. "Communication in this form goes back and forth like a tennis ball. So it's exciting and it moves quickly, and you're not really thinking what the implications are." But once a picture has been sent, it's impossible for the sender to control where it goes. It may get released by mistake like Weiner's supposedly unintentional tweet or on purpose by a malicious ex. Once it's public, an image can very easily get into the wrong hands. The very technology that provides such easy thrills can also bring careers and marriages down with a simple click of the "forward" button. The public release of naughty pictures can cause embarrassment for teens and singles, but for people sexting outside of marriage, it can be like getting caught cheating. "More and more people are getting caught, and more and more marriages are breaking up," Lipkins said. "I am seeing it more and more," agreed licensed mental health counselor Lara West, a couples therapy specialist in Louisville. For people sexting outside a relationship, the consequences can be serious. "People are certainly getting themselves in a lot of trouble for seeking this stuff out," West said. Among the couples she sees, one partner might start sexting to fill a need the relationship isn't satisfying. "People do it because sex meets a lot of our needs and we often don't have a partner available or willing," West said. The sexter might also find it easier to articulate his or her desires online than in person. West said, "People might be ashamed of their sexual proclivities, and it's so much easier to go online in relative anonymity and seek out other people who are OK with what you want to do." Opportunity costs Those needs are nothing new in the past, people would turn to pornography or prostitution, according to West. But the constant availability of the Internet makes sexting a greater temptation. "The ease of sexting is very appealing to people," she said. And people going outside their relationship for online sex often feel that they've done nothing wrong, according to Rick Ennis, a licensed marriage therapist in Louisville. He often sees men who "don't consider it an infidelity because, 'I didn't sleep with her.' " Not surprisingly, the other partner in a relationship can feel differently about extramarital sexts. "If a partner feels betrayed, then it's cheating," West said. In Weiner's case, the effects of his activities on his marriage and his family relationships are unknown. "We have been through a great deal together, and we will weather this," he told reporters about his relationship Call Mon-Sat 7am to 9pm Clarksville fJh! 1H6 Veteran's Parkway Frankfort (812)283-1100 101 Jett Blvd. Louisville (502) 871-3525 6810 Dlxie H9hwaV y ' (502) 585-5351 celrs on Tte rciveR 2011 Easy access Whether that's due to arrogance, the illusion of power or some self-destructive impulse, what's new is that social media make it much easier for people to indulge their "stupidities," said Peter Shankman, a New York City-based social media entrepreneur. "Would you pick up the phone and call a 19-year-old constituent (and tell her) how hot you are for her ... but you know what, it's a lot easier to type it," Shankman said. According to Lipkins, the problem with Weiner's sexting has more to do with his position of power than with the behavior itself. "There are many standards" for online behavior, Lipkins said. "Part of the standard will depend on how old you are, and another part of the standard will depend on what amount of authority you have and power and status and what the circumstances are." Still, Baldoni and Shankman insist that the Weiner story is not a sex scandal or a Twitter scandal but a lying scandal. And if social media have done one thing, Shankman said, "it's really, really reduced our ability to lie and US AT THE 1 -21 50 PLEASE JOIN ON FROM UNTIL FOR AN EVENING OF GREAT CELTIC ENTERTAINMENT 'Not valid with previous or ongoing work. Discounts may vary when combined with insurance or financing and can not be combined with other offers or denta discount plans. Discounts taken off usual and customary fees, available on select styles. $300 discount based on a single arch replacement denture only for premium ComfiLytes Dentures. $249 denture offer based on a single arch Basic replacement denture. 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