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Athletics Nation

Andrew Sullivan
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Kevin Drum
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(Obsidian Wings)

 Thursday, November 19, 2009
Some day your kids will see that

When I was a teenager, when a few daring young women were starting to get tattoos, a common horrified reaction from older folk was something like, "Don’t you know that’s permanent? Imagine what people will think when you’re 70 years old and you have a tattoo of a butterfly on your boob." I was a logical lad, so I imagined ... and I concluded that if the popularity of tattoos continued to increase (as indeed it did), then by the time she was 70 it would be commonplace and people would just think, "Oh, there’s another old lady with a tattoo on her boob."

Now that I’m middle-aged I’m sometimes shocked at how cavalier young people are about having pictures of themselves passed around. When I was in school, a girl would have been mortified if guys got hold of a private picture. Nowadays she’s likely to stand naked in front of a mirror with a cell phone — possibly strategically covering her naughty bits or possibly not — and snap a picture to send to her boyfriend and/or attach with a personal ad. And if her friend says, "Omigod, aren’t you worried that it will get spread all over the internet?" her answer might well be, "Whatever. I don’t care."

People of my generation, not to mention those even older, tend to be shocked by this (even as the dirty old men among us help contribute to spreading it all over the internet). A common thought is, "Some day your kids are going to see that," and even for someone like me — who is pretty open-minded in general (and also a dirty old man) — my reaction is "Eeew, that’s so creepy and wrong".

But then I remember the tattoos, and I think maybe that’s not a big deal. Maybe in 2070 some 12-year-old boys will be poking around on whatever the technology of the day is and one will say, "Hey, look! Here’s an old video of grandma having sex with some guy." And maybe grandma will be in the room and she’ll say, "Really? Let me see. ... Oh, hey, that’s Dylan. He was nice. I wonder whatever happened to him." And maybe that won’t be the least bit awkward for any of them because by 2070 it will just be normal to see pictures of your grandmother having sex.

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