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Selfies: I Need Some ID For That….

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on August 11, 2014 in Immoral Conversations |

If you imagine that the fad for selfies begins when a person – especially a woman – is mature enough to understand the effect they could have, when she has left puberty and entered that period when almost anything is legal, than you will undoubtedly be surprised, if not shocked, to discover that this simply is not so. If an uneducated ape in the middle of a forest who has never come across a camera before – not that I am comparing intelligence levels – can manage a good selfie, then so can an under-aged minor who is too young to really know what a certain pose, a certain facial expression can portray or suggest to others.

Viktoria Michaelis: Photography, Young, Selfie, Self-Portrait

Photo Source: unknown, via imgsrc

Admittedly the ape isn’t likely to turn up in a court of law with its parents and fight over who owns copyright to the photograph, nor battle over the rights and wrongs over a minor having their highly suggestive images sent to all and sundry over the Internet. We, as viewers or voyeurs, however, do need to cast our minds towards the legalities of what we can and cannot see, show, republish, Tweet, share or even send out to close friends as a personal favor. And still the Internet is full of them, these self-portraits of women, and men, who are clearly nowhere near the legal age of consent.

Sometimes it is hard to tell. Even at a very young age there are those few younger women who insist on dressing themselves up, especially in the make-up department, to appear considerably older than they really are. I see them on the bus sometimes, as I travel in to college: someone wants to buy a ticket, is surprised by the price and then exclaims: but I’m only twelve! They’re done up with all the trimmings as if into their late teens, some of them so badly or so overdone you could imagine them as young mother or, worse still, approaching the age where the slightly derogatory terms Cougar and MILF come to mind.

Viktoria Michaelis: Photography, Young, Selfie, Self-Portrait

Photo Source: unknown, via imgsrc

And so of them are so sweet and innocent in appearance you’d be surprised to learn that they were of adult age, let alone in their twenties. But society seems to think even an eight year old must have a cellphone these days, and it is increasingly hard to find one which does not have both a camera and Internet access built-in. Parents may be well advised to counsel their children on the hazards of Internet usage, the areas where they should be careful, where they should not go at all, but with a smart phone? Over the (admitted) age of thirteen and with a Facebook profile, the app downloaded and installed, what’s to stop them taking that quick ‘does my ass look too fat in this bikini‘ and sending it off into the wide world for all to see?

Viktoria Michaelis: Photography, Young, Selfie, Self-Portrait

Photo Source: unknown, via imgsrc

The sad thing is that there is a market for such things. We all know about the child pornography rings, those who collect, those who create and distribute such offensive, vile works. We all know that there are perverted men and women who can only get off, it seems, when they see something innocent sexually abused and their life ruined. With underage selfies, though, we are in a sort of gray zone, an area where the law, where good taste and morals hardly seem to have an opinion. Of course everyone can see that a selfie of a far too young woman with her hand inside her panties, or her legs spread wide or even nude is very much on the wrong side of the line, but that doesn’t stop them being there. That doesn’t stop these children from taking them; perhaps just for someone they imagine to be the love of their life; perhaps just to see what it looks like; perhaps because they believe themselves to be old enough, mature enough.

Viktoria Michaelis: Photography, Young, Selfie, Self-Portrait

Photo Source: unknown, via imgsrc

And how can any adult, faced with the fact that their pre-teen or only just a teen daughter has a smart phone, has access to the Internet, has friends on her long list who she doesn’t physically know are real or who they say they are, know what is going to happen? Younger women are becoming ever more self-aware, ever more precocious, ever more advanced in their outlook, egged on by easy access to the Internet, by their friends and schoolmates. Once an image is on the Internet, no matter what any social network may claim when it comes to actioning complaints – and none of them reacts immediately, no matter whether it is copyright theft, child abuse, revenge porn or whatever – it is out of anyone’s control. A few clicks and it is saved on a hard drive somewhere, ready to be sent out again or to be sold to those with a deeper interest.

Parents and schools can educate as much as they want or even more than is required, but that is going to stop no one. The thing which stops them, which makes them think again, is when someone they know, someone they are close to, is faced with the problems such an image can bring with it. I don’t mean the fairly innocent images I’ve produced here, although there are plenty of people who can use their imaginations to go a little bit further than the photographs show or their Internet abilities to find out exactly where a person lives, but those which go a stage further. The ones with just underwear or less, the sexually provocative poses, the private, for one person only explicit images. And then, for that one person who has lived, or is living, the results, it is too late anyway. The image is out there and has garnered a response.

Viktoria Michaelis: Photography, Young, Selfie, Self-Portrait

Photo Source: unknown, via imgsrc

And yet, as far as the social networks are concerned, it would be so easy to combat. Those who make millions of dollars could invest some of that ready cash, that income into making the Internet and their site a much safer place for younger women, and men. Rather than leaving the privacy settings entirely up to the user, have a moderation system in place for images, each one needing to be approved and rated. That doesn’t help with the privately sent images, the one-on-one messages, but it is a start and everything needs to start somewhere.

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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