July 12, 2012 05:31pm
A Brief History of Sext
by: Alicia Ranch-Traille
Sending sexy messages is nothing new, you know. In the waning years of the 18th century, for example, the Marquis de Sade spent 29 years in prison penning X-rated letters to his wife, the details of which make "Fifty Shades of Gray" look more like "Goodnight Moon."
Over the years, our technology may have changed, but our overall perversion and our great need to share it with others certainly have not. So it's no surprise that we've turned to texting to keep the naughty dialogue going. But how did it all start, and where does the road that we've paved with dick pics lead? Let's take a little journey.
How Sexting Started
It might surprise you to learn that the first text message wasn't sent on a phone, but a beeper (remember those?) in 1989. The message read "07734," which when turned upside down spelled "hello." It wasn't until 1992 that a non-numeric SMS text was sent from a computer to a phone. A few years later the service became available to the public, though it didn't really take off until after Y2K, when those who hadn't blown their life savings on doomsday hatches started shelling out cash for mobile texting plans.
The Papers Love a Scandal
Cultural anthropologists may never unearth the world's first sexy text, but the word "sexting" is a different story. The term made its print debut in an article published in 2004 by the Canadian newspaper the Globe and Mail in reference to a sexual exchange between David Beckham and one of his (lucky assistants). Americans jumped on the media bandwagon in 2005 when a Los Angeles Times article used the word. When the editorial team at Cosmo learned that a new sex act had actually been discovered (and that they wouldn't have to rename the "reverse cowgirl" for the sixth issue in a row), they became very excited, and so did every other media outlet in the world.
Tired of blaming Marilyn Manson and Call of Duty for the moral disintegration of the American teenager, newscasters and soccer moms took up the fight against sexting. Between 2008 and 2009, the press was flooded with stories of teacher-student sext scandals, children being sued for possession or distribution of child pornography as a consequence of sexting photos, and of course hundreds of opinion pieces from outraged parents and experts.
While legislators struggled to define sexting (and got caught doing some off-hours research in the process) the sex scandals continued to flow in. Tiger Woods, Brett Favre, Miley Cyrus, Vanessa Hudgens, Rihanna – they all caused a stir with leaked texts or photos, and that's not even including the bad boys of Capitol Hill. Of course, no matter how many celebs make examples of themselves, the rampant sexting rages on.
There's an App for that
To quell society's insatiable thirst for double entendres and semi-nude mirror pics, many movers and shakers have brought new ideas to the market. What kind of ideas? Ideas like the iPhone app Snapchat, which the New York Times described as an app that "allows a person to take and send a picture and control how long it is visible by the person who receives it, up to 10 seconds. After that, the picture disappears and can’t be seen again. If the person viewing the picture tries to use an iPhone feature that captures an image of whatever is on the screen, the sender is notified." It's an app that's sure to find a home among sexters who are eager to protect their privacy.
What about the lonely sexter? The guy or gal who enjoys the thrill of sending sexy messages and photos but who just hasn't met that special someone yet? Companies like Adult SMS Texts are happy to help. These companies offer a new take on traditional phone sex hotlines by allowing you to anonymously trade pictures with people that you know are willing. That way, you won't embarrass yourself by trying to get saucy with someone who's just not into it. New businesses and apps aimed at satisfying our sexting needs are being born every day.
What does the future hold? It's hard to say. Maybe sexting will stick around for hundreds of years. Maybe technology will evolve, giving us new devices that make sexting obsolete. Or maybe humans will finally develop telepathic powers, making it possible for us to send images of ourselves sprawled out on a bear-skin rug using only the power of our minds. Time will tell, but you can rest assured that whatever medium we use, the art of talking dirty will never die.