Sexting Before Texting: PBS Explores The History of Erotic Communication
Tonight on PBS we’re turning back the clock to understand how the human race shared explicit images before platforms like Snapchat came to fruition.
Before we introduce you to the history of a multi-billion dollar industry, check out the code at the bottom of the screen for 30% off a PBS tote bag! Our durable tote bags can carry all of your baggage, physical or emotional!
In 2019, X-rated photos are distributed freely and recklessly: with a single click of a button, the image of, say, a sensitive mirror selfie can be sent from the iCloud of my ex-girlfriend, Carol, to every member of my extended family in no time. Of course, that’s just one example. Really, the possibilities are abundant. This is bigger than Carol.
Throughout time, the depiction of the nude form has been a focal point in the minds of homo sapiens. Let’s take a look backwards to some of the earliest methods of distribution…
The Fax machine
Before Snapchat and texting expedited the process, people used to have to take the time to carefully fax photos of their nasty bits to loved ones. Did you know that in the peak of fax machine usage, a notification would go off nearly every 12 seconds somewhere in the United States? That means that in the 90’s, before I’d even MET Carol, approximately every 12 seconds a teenage boy somewhere in the Midwest would rush to his home fax machine with a glimmer of hope that there’d be a provocative photo slowly printing out.
Professionally developed photos
In the renaissance period, the European upper class would often commission nude portraits to be painted and hung in their master bedrooms. The process took a brisk two to four years to complete. Today, in a matter of moments after snapping a photo of your pale, awkward torso-to-thighs region, you can get a text from your great-grandmother saying, “I didn’t survive the Holocaust to see this”! Isn’t technology amazing?
Silent black and white films
The first pornography was around the time that silent black and white films began steady production. And while there’s something tasteful to be said about a nice black and white image, there’s much less that’s positive to be said for opening up the ol’ Facebook to a photo Carol posted of your backside captioned “I’m leaving you”. What I will say is that, like a good silent film, Carol sure knows how to stir up the drama!
Some of the first nudes were drawn on the walls of caves using charcoal and mud. To impress a potential mate, a male would draw depictions of himself on rocks. It was an elaborate wooing technique, that, I’m afraid to say, had been made almost obsolete today.
Thanks to apps and LTE internet, the human form has become much more accessible, and as a result, much more disposable. Yes, Carol may have left me, turned my loved ones against me, and rented a billboard on I-95 to project explicit images of my undercarriage on, but she has also served as an example of just how far we have come. This really is an innovative and creative new world.
You’re listening to PBS Explores The History of Erotic Communication. After a short commercial break we’ll be back with a live interview with Carol! Stay tuned…
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Elsa Nierenberg is a stand-up comedian, comedic writer, and student at Bryn Mawr College. You can find more of her writing online at Little Old Lady Comedy, The Belladonna, WICF Daily and others. She performs stand-up throughout Boston and Philadelphia. Follow her on twitter @ElsaNierenberg