Over the weekend, NBA star Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors and Team USA joined the growing list of celebrities who have accidentally sent out a naked photo to many more people than intended. You might call it the Weiner list.
On Sunday, Green included a photo of his penis in a public Snapchat My Story. He deleted it 10 minutes later, and like former Congressman Anthony Wiener, who mistakenly publicly tweeted a photo of his bulging member in 2011 rather than sending it as a direct message, initially claimed he'd been hacked.
But Green quickly realized that story was going to fall apart under the full court press of the media and so he admitted to making the foul shot. Before a Team USA practice in Houston, he apologized and said it was "clearly not what I was trying to do."
"We're all one click away from placing something in the wrong place," Green said. "I suffered from that this morning."
Wise words. We are indeed. Before technology came flooding into our lives, with cameras, microphones, Wi-fi and sensors packaged into almost every consumer product we buy, it was much, much harder for your naked body to make its way into the public sphere.
To get a nude photo of Jackie Onassis Kennedy in 1972, the paparazzi had to find out what private Greek beach she was on, take a fishing boat to it, use a camera with a telescopic lens, and then hope she actually decided to sunbathe nude. Then magazines had to buy the photos, including Hustler, and print them. "I made over $20 million on those photos. It was the best investment I ever made," the Hustler's Larry Flynt told the Enquirer of his decision to publish them in 1975, three years after they were initially taken.
That still happens, as Justin Bieber found out when he walked around nude during a vacation in Bora Bora last October. But now you don't need the paparazzi to get nude photos. Thanks first to the Polaroid camera, which allowed people to take naked photos without having to drop them off at the local photo development place, and then digital cameras, and finally smartphones, we can now easily take naked photos of ourselves at home (or wherever the fancy strikes you). Thus was born unto the world the close-up genital shot.
And with all the cameras in your house, your own products might turn paparazzi and take nude photos of you, as when Metafilter founder Matt Haughey had his naked photo emailed out by his Dropcam, which had automatically taken the photo of him because it sensed movement in the house.
These sensitive photos aren't locked up in a safe or hidden away in a bedroom drawer. No, they sit on our digital devices or in the Cloud, just one bad smartphone swipe (or hack) away from going public.
That we might give intimate photos meant for one person to countless strangers instead is a consequence of the smartphones and social media apps that have become so deeply embedded in our lives. As sex has become sext, we've put an incredibly intimate act onto the same platforms we use to publish all the other details about our lives, and made it much easier to inadvertently invite colleagues, friends, and randos into our virtual bedrooms.
It's one of the many ways sex has changed in our modern world, a theme we're exploring this week at Fusion. Our stories will detail all the ways we will—and won't—be having sex in the future thanks to technology. Join us here.