Technology advances with dizzying rapidity, pulling a reluctant society along with it. Only a generation ago many of the daily conveniences we take for granted, such as email, cell phones and running water were nothing more than high-tech fantasies. This ever-accelerating advancement ensures that wherever the future leaves us, it will be a strange and frightening place, too difficult to accurately predict from our unfavorable historical vantage.
But for the many advantages this new technology brings us, there come also attendant consequences. Among these is the deterioration of the traditional community structure–as the world around us grows smaller, the bonds which link us to our local communities begin to fray. Nor is there any doubt that the wealth of easy information available at a keyboard stroke has whetted society’s appetite for instant gratification, while at the same time atrophying those skills upon which real scholarship is based.
But perhaps the greatest loss in how we communicate with one another. Since ancient times, young people have signaled their affection for one another by exchanging nude images. In prehistoric times these crude pornographic depictions likely took the form of cave drawings, just as in ancient Egypt human pudenda were immortalized in rare inks on the walls of excavated tombs. Oil paints were favored for beaver shots from the Renaissance until the early Twentieth Century, when boudoir photographs became the norm.
But changing mores have conspired to kill once and for all this treasured ancient custom. Whereas once entire families gathered to celebrate this DIY-porn, passing little Suzie’s naked image hand to hand (and arriving twice at Uncle Joe), as the beaming girl reveled in their wholesome attentions, this harmless tradition is being increasingly seen in a negative light. Dwelling on the prurient, critics contend that not only does this trend tend to sexualize children, but the resultant humiliation from the unintentional promulgation of the private images can have serious and long-lasting effects upon a young person’s self-esteem.
Sadly, this view seems to be gaining ground, despite the nudie-shot’s well-established cultural history. There are no doubt a great many individuals who welcome the loss of home-made spank pix. Even without Jurgen’s Lotion or a similar unguent, this is a slippery slope. Will these same critics be quite so sanguine when other liberties begin to disappear as well? Imagine if you will a world where it is no longer safe to disseminate personal information like your social security number and credit card information or where children are afraid to accept bus tickets sent to them over the internet by dangerous strangers. Doubtless, that’s a world where none of us want to live, and yet, with every beaver shot left uncaptured, we are one step closer to that reality.