Day 26 - Dick Pics, Social Media & Parenting
Or we could title this blog - Three things that do not go together!
CAVEAT: I wrote the first part of this blog as a single woman. Her perspective. I wrote the later part as a parent. I want to emphasize the bright, wide line between the two. What is marginally appropriate as a single adult, is not appropriate at all when placed in a parenting context...
SINGLE WOMAN PERSPECTIVE
I am going to say it...I miss the online dating random dick pics. Call me crazy or whatever but I miss the random weird attempts of men to get my attention by sending me unadulterated photos of their members. So there.
I miss the variety...
The funny one
This very nice older man that I was talking to was appalled to hear that men really did this. He thought it was tasteless and awful. We didn’t talk for awhile and then one day I get this random ass photo of Richard Nixon. I will admit it took me a minute...I was like who the fuck is sending me a photo of a crook and why? At the same time that I had an AH HA moment, he texted to make sure the message was received. Pretty damn funny.
The pornographic one
When The Tribe began (see previous post for tribal definition) we were all single and dating (well except Cuppie who was in a relationship). Between the six of us there were dick pics galore. We would share them, comment on them and I think I even suggested that we make a coffee table book with them. It was all fun and games until MFJ brought the house down with Elephant Man (the name really does say it all). It was impressive and earned the dubious honor of best dick pick of all time.
The cheating one
So I was talking to this guy for a little while. He seemed smart, funny and he was attractive. We were in the phase of online dating where he was trying to convince me to meet him. I had reservations. I guess he thought that a good dick pick would get me over to his side so in rapid fire succession he launched his dick pick campaign. It was an impressive campaign...however, what he had failed to do prior to launching his impetuous charge was remove his wedding ring...OOPS! I laughed so hard. The Tribe laughed so hard. When I confronted him about his grave error, he said, “I am in a open marriage!” I replied, “does your wife know that?” Funny thing, we ended up being friends (no, I never dated him) and I helped coach him through his resulting divorce. I am happy to report to womankind that his one particular dude and his attendant dick are now actually single. You are welcome.
I am sure there is some social anthropologist out there who will study the dick pick phenomena. There has to be some reason scientific reason why the proliferation of penis photos is happening. It doesn’t even make sense from a dating perspective. Why would a man lead with that???? While women do care about the whole male member thing, it is fairly low ranking on the list of requirements. Most women I know would choose a less than endowed guy to one that is kind and shows up for her. I think men would fare better by sending flowers or actually listening when we talk. Not talking about themselves the entire date or being kind and honest.
This is not to say that what the guy is packing is irrelevant. It is not to any woman I know. To some I know, it is a make it or break it deal. Seriously. I find it interesting that men are leading with their dicks. As if the little head really has taken control over the larger head. It seems that we have devolved in our society to a point where genitalia are the a fair representation of what is to come...(HAHAHA!). For me, I always appreciated the boldness and risk taking behavior. For me that was a good sign. I have always wanted someone who says “fuck you”to convention and isn’t afraid to tell it like it is.
Being in the dating desert has drastically reduced my dick picking. I do want to send a shout out to my friend that still sends them to me randomly. Thanks for keeping me going Dwayne!
PS - (which stands for post script and isn't really even used anymore - just saying)
I wrote all of the above before the incident last night. Last night, my 12 year old daughter got her first dick pick. Juvenile from the looks of it. She immediately brought it to me which was both a blessing and a curse! I was horrified but not surprised! I mean if grown ass men will send them why would impulsive teenagers with undeveloped frontal cortexs not send them too. Although I will say that being in middle school, one must have a lot of confidence...
I helped my daughter block the sender whose identity remains a mystery. Thanks snap chat! She thought it was funny. My son thought it was disgusting. I was shocked although, upon reflection, I do not see why I did not see this coming...
That started me thinking about all the things that social media brings into my living room every night. What my kids are actually looking at on their devices. All the things that get past the parental controls that are really not good filters at all. I realized that there was no substitute for the three of us sitting in our living room together even if we are all on devices. (My son and I were actually watching a show together). I was grateful that her first instinct was to tell me and show me. Well, at little less grateful for the later. We immediately blocked and reported the sender which removed the offending photo from her device. I then thought that maybe we should have taken a screen shot as evidence (I am not sure for what reason). Later, I was so glad that we didn't because I realized that I would have been in possession of child pornography! OH MY FUCKING GOD! I would have! I could have been arrested...
How can something so adult have made its way to my 12 year old?
Everything in our society has sped up. There is no waiting for things anymore. We have the ability to make things happen immediately that used to take months or weeks. Things that used to be personal and private, are all over social media now. Even me writing this blog is part of the new normal of immediate oversharing. If I wanted to share my inner most thoughts about random topics 20 years ago, I would have had to write a book. Find a publisher and an audience. Today, I just created a space, shared it and have people who actually follow me...thanks mom and The Tribe!
This made me change my mind about dick pics. They have lost their luster. Seeing it from a parental perspective totally changed my mind. Something that was amusing to me as single woman was forever changed by migrating that adult activity to minors. The line that used to exist between childhood and adulthood a little more blurred and hard to see.
In the end, I tried to make the best of it. I thanked my daughter for telling me. The three of us discussed why this was inappropriate, dangerous and wrong. We discussed what could happen for my son if he were to ever send one. We discussed that this might, in fact, not be a kid but someone pretending to be a kid. We discussed that sex and naked photos were not things to be shared at their age. We laughed because what else was there to do? The dick and naked photos are not going anywhere. Perhaps there will be software that will come along that can filter them out but that doesn't change the fact that they will still be sent. Even if software could blur them out - the kids still know what is being sent and why.
I cannot protect my kids from the onslaught of the digital world. They are mired in it. It is really their world. They will be among the first generation that has never known life without a computer. I have seen my friends try to ban the digital world but their kids just go around them and find a way to see it elsewhere. That is not all kids but it is most.
My only strategy for dealing with this is my relationship with my kids. I am present. I am here. I am available. I can talk to them without expressing judgment, only concern. I can keep the lines of communication open so that, like last night, when something disturbing lands on their devices, their first reaction is to show me (harmful as that may be to my psyche).
It was hard to see my daughter's innocence invaded last night. But she took it in stride like she does most things. I said, "I am sorry that you received that." She laughed and said, "I am not. My friends get them all the time. It was my first one but not the last." Concerned, I said, "Honey, I do not want this for you." To which she replied, "Mom, it is ok. I think it is gross and funny. I will always tell you so you can help me know what to do next. I promise." to which I thought, please God let that be true. And said, "I will always be here to help you. Thank you for trusting me enough to share this with me." We both looked at each other and burst out laughing. She said, "mom, you are the first person I want to share my dick pics with..." I cringed. I said, "that is a dubious honor! But I will take it. Because I am honored that you trust me enough to include me in a world that I only marginally understand. I promise to try to understand and not judge. The thing that scares me most is you being in that world alone without an adult to assist in the navigation." To which she replied, "mom, I tell you everything, well almost everything. Well, I tell you the really important stuff." Please God, please, please, please let that remain true.