Chances are if you’ve been up to date on the most recent social media crazes on campus, you’ve heard of uwmadison_snaps — a Snapchat account that received photos and videos from all over campus. Although the account no longer exists, a definite set of motifs began to appear: drugs, alcohol and naked pictures. There were boobs, genitals, butts, even a brief shot of a blowjob. Snappers received these photos with mild surprise (or shock, if you opened some of the more graphic snapchats in lecture) and delight.

But why all the enthusiasm for sending anonymous nudes to a mystery account, where thousands of students could easily screenshot, save and share the pictures?

As students, we hear a lot about underage kids sexting and getting in trouble for it. However, adults sext too, and as long as all parties are consenting, sexting can be a thrilling and flirtatious experience. In today’s age of high-speed technology, Snapchat and flattering filters, sexting has never been easier.

What is Sexting?

Although sexting can mean many different things for different people, in general it is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or pictures, mostly between cell phones. This may include sending intimate messages to potential or current partner(s) or taking sexual photos or videos. It is important to remember that consensual sexting between adults is not the same as child pornography and other exploitative types of messages and pictures. Sexting is meant to be a pleasurable consenting act, and adults all over the place enjoy it.

According to a 2014 study conducted by security software McAfee, 49 percent of U.S. adults used their smartphones to send or receive naughty messages. The same study says that more men sext than women — perhaps because society often engages in sex-negative slut-shaming when women choose to showcase their sexuality. Of course, people of all genders sext for many reasons: long distance relationships, flirtations with a potential new partner, maybe even boredom.

Ethical Sexting

Have you ever opened up your phone to discover an unsolicited dick pic waiting there for you? Unless you really like that sort of surprise, it can be unpleasant to see such a private part of another person without anticipating it. So when sending intimate photos, make sure the receiver(s) are consenting to the type of photo you are about to send. It’s as simple as asking, “Hey, wanna see my ass?” Fair warning: if you don’t want to see any nudes, you should probably avoid all University of Wisconsin Snapchat accounts.

Become a Sexting Pro

Sexting can be a little intimidating. What if my balls look weird in this lighting? What if I sound silly or awkward? Luckily, there are a few tips I can give to polish up your sexting skills.

1.      Start simple. Even just the words “I want you right now” can get someone hot and heavy. Don’t underestimate the power of throwing in words like “wet” and “hot” — even if you’re just talking about taking a shower.

2.     Paint a picture with your words. Don’t want to send a picture? Put that English Gen Ed requirement to use and throw in some adjectives. Describe what you’re doing to yourself or what you want to do to the person receiving them. Then challenge them to finish the story.

3.     Know your end game. Is this just a flirtatious back-and-forth or are you going to invite this person over later? If you plan on having them over for some in-person nudity, it might be a good idea to set a time and then describe your plans for that evening’s (or afternoon’s) delight.

4.     Its all about the lighting. Natural light is best for nudes. Turn that front-facing camera on yourself and walk around your space to see which spot is best. You’re hot in any lighting, of course, but some is more flattering.

5.     Only do it if you want. The pressure to send sexy texts or pictures is intense. But your body and sexuality are yours to control. Never feel obligated to send something you don’t want to. And if they continue to harass you, block them.

Sexting Scandals

Sexting has been all over the news lately, especially following the leaked photos of Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities this past August. These celebrities’ privacy was violated by a hacker. Such a crime breaches personal freedoms to take whatever kinds of pictures we want and do whatever we like with them. And celebrities are not the only ones whose private pics have found a place in the public sphere — public figures such as Anthony Wiener, Tiger Woods and Brett Favre have all been caught sending explicit photographs.

With the creation of the iCloud, the days of Polaroid nudes are long gone, and some photographs can remain floating around forever. And unfortunately the stigma attached to sexting — especially to sending nude photos — is a big one.

Want to sext, but nervous about getting caught? Consider cutting your face out of the photo. In order to be extra safe, it might be a good idea to delete the EXIF metadata from photos, since a camera automatically adds information such as location, date, time and type of camera used. Snapchat might be a good option, since you can control how long the image stays up on the receiver’s screen, but remember that the receiver can take a screenshot.

When it comes to sexting, there are some risks, but hopefully the stigma will die out as more young people normalize the expression of their sexuality through technology. Sexting can be an awesome experience for those who wish to turn someone on from a distance, whether that is across a country or a lecture hall.