Sexting, sending nude pictures to one another by cell phone, has become a big fad
among teens. A reporter covering the story says it is a new way to flirt. Silly me.
I thought flirting was extended eye contact, a lingering touch or a coy smile. Now I
find out flirting means ripping off your clothes and saying cheese.
Curiosity about the opposite sex certainly isn't new. Somewhere in the cave
dwellings of early man, we would no doubt find at least one hieroglyphic of a stick
figure with anatomically correct parts etched by a teen boy.
What is new, is the utter and total lack of discretion.
Lurid ladies let it all hang out in the Victoria's Secret windows, actresses
intentionally forget their underwear, and sleaze oozes from the tube like lava
flowing down the sides of a volcano.
Small wonder that parents find themselves confronting a nationwide epidemic known as
sexting. Estimates are that one in five teens has either sent or received nude
photos by cell phone.
A high school girl in Kansas sent her boyfriend a naughty photo of herself. Then
they broke up and he sexted the photo to his pals. Middle-school students in
Massachusetts face child pornography charges after a boy sexted a nude photo of his
13-year-old girlfriend to his buddies. And then there are the girls who give new
meaning to the term call girl and sext nude photos of themselves to boys.
All across the country, teens face felony charges for child pornography. If
convicted, some may spend decades on sexual predator registries. It doesn't matter
if they sent the pictures or were recipients of pictures. It also doesn't matter if
the pictures were taken with consent. An under-age child can't give consent. An
under-age child can, however, do some very stupid things.
Still, there is a sense in which these kids have grown up "under the influence."
Raunch has become a silent part of our cultural landscape, like a beige backdrop or
small-print wallpaper. We hardly notice it. We rarely flinch.
Another teacher arrested for molesting a student? Ho-hum. Did I miss the five-day
Half-naked women writhe and stretch and caress themselves in music videos on the
television sets suspended from the ceiling at the family fitness center. Trust me,
they're not doing Pilates.
A young woman's derriere is hanging beneath her short shorts in the checkout line
and my concern is whether she has 10 items or less in her cart.
We have all grown numb. We recognize the symptoms - adolescent girls aspiring to be
pole dancers, boys objectifying girls, girls objectifying themselves, absentee
parents and kids with no boundaries. But do we ever get at what lies beneath? Do we
ever flip over that big ugly rock to study the sow bugs beneath?
At the core of the problem is a missing component that goes by the name virtue. Even
the word sounds archaic. But that's what is missing.
People were once esteemed for their character. Classical Rome prided itself on
citizens who embodied virtues like dignity, tenacity, prudence and modesty. Virtue
was part of Roman culture. Virtue was once part of our culture. We, too, once shared
a common regard for respectability and wholesomeness.
Ideally, virtue becomes so integral to a human being that honorable character goes
wherever that person goes. Even into cyberspace.