For many people, the holidays mean travel. The United States Department of Transportation suggests, for example, that visits to friends and family members account for 53 percent of the trips made during the holiday season. In other words, winter trips don't take place due to business. They take place due to love, concern and affiliation.
But, there are hundreds of thousands of people who simply can't travel during this time of year. And there are hundreds of thousands of others who have jobs or commitments that keep them busy during the holidays. That means it's possible that you'll be separated from someone you love during this most romantic time of year.
If so, you might be tempted to share some holiday cheer with a naked selfie. It's a common practice, as PewResearch says some 44 percent of young adults (ages 18 to 24) and some 22 percent of adults participate in sexting. Sending sexy snaps seems like a smart way to keep the zest alive, even when you're far apart.
But before you push "send" on those photos, ask yourself these questions. You just might find that the snaps aren't worth the risks you face.
1. How long have you been in the relationship?
If you're in a brand-new relationship, you might be tempted to do almost anything to make that person like you or love you. But, new relationships tend to be a little volatile. That person you're so enamored with might end up with a new partner in just a few weeks, no matter what you might say or do.
And if that person has risky photos of you and your breakup was particularly bad, that person might be overwhelmingly tempted to share your snaps on a revenge porn site. In just a few minutes, that person could shame you in ways you never thought possible.
2. How much do you trust that person?
If your relationship is rock solid, you might feel confident that the photos you're sending won't go anywhere. But, if there's even the slightest bit of doubt about what that person is saying or what that person might do, you could face a revenge porn risk. If you've been fighting in the past, or your relationship has a lot of jealousy bits mixed in, the photo you're tempted to send could be just a touch too risky.
3. What would your family say if the photos got out?
If a partner does share your photo on a revenge porn site, it probably won't stay on that site. That's because photos on these revenge sites are associated with all sorts of keywords and details, including your:
- Real name
- Date of birth
- Place of employment
Search engines pick up on these little crumbs, and that means your photo could quickly be attached to searches people make of your name. Your mother, grandmother, father or your kids could stumble across your photos because of those links.
If the idea of your snaps hitting your loved ones makes you even the slightest bit uncomfortable, you should reconsider sending that image.
4. How are you sending the photos?
You might be tempted to make your photos at least a little more secure by using a tool like Snapchat or Wickr. These apps are designed to delete images just seconds after they're received. In theory, you could keep yourself safe if you could ensure that the photo doesn't stick around long enough to get copied.
Unfortunately, research highlighted on CNN suggests that these apps don't work as well as they should. The images aren't really erased as much as made inaccessible, experts say, and that could mean that someone with computer savvy could find them again in time. So if you're relying on technology to keep you safe, it might be worth thinking again.
5. Could you say it with words instead?
So clearly, sending photos comes with some risks. And those risks might not be so prevalent if you use words instead of images.
A partner could still take a screenshot of something snarky you say in a text, of course, but those messages might not pop up on a revenge porn site. Those websites are made for images of skin, not images of text, so they might not be so tempting to share.
And if you want to be really safe, send the one you love a slightly naughty quote written by someone else, like Anais Nin. That way, you're not generating any content at all. You're just sharing something someone else wrote, that expresses your feelings quite nicely.
If you have been a target for a revenge porn website, these tips might not help to correct your past. But we can help you have a brighter future. We have a number of programs available that can clean up old messes and bring back clean results when people click on your name. Visit this page to find out more.
Protect your reputation online.