An article I read in The Gazette several years ago about Mae West mentioned that the legendary American actress’s home had a life-size picture on the wall of her posing nude. Not exactly a smartphone selfie, but a self-image nevertheless.
I’ve never seen the image, nor have I gone looking for it on the Internet. In truth, since I became a naturist and a nude model for artists, my view of the human body has changed somewhat. I don’t see the naked body through sexual lens as much as I might have years ago.
I imagine that Mae didn’t view that self-image through sexual lens, either. It was simply an image of her in her natural state at a certain space in time, seen only by the person who developed it for her and those who were in her home. It wasn’t on her laptop computer or smartphone, because that technology didn’t exist at the time.
But it exists now, of course, and so-called smartphone selfies are all the rage. But before the word “selfies” came into vogue in this Internet age, we’ve had digital cameras that have allowed us to click a timer and snap lots of self-images, upload them to our computers, and share them on social media sites.
Which is mostly pretty cool, yes?
Well, not exactly. We’ve all heard about images of teenage girls that have spread like viral wildfire, with sometimes tragic suicidal consequences.
And we’ve heard recently about actresses whose smartphones were hacked, and whose nude selfies were stolen and posted on the Internet by people who, perhaps, oversexualize when it comes to images of the body in its natural state.
And there was even one actress not that long ago who says she accidentally posted a topless image of herself on Twitter. At the time, I thought her explanation was ridiculous, but I’ve had a rethink of that this week, after a bout of paranoia involving some of the technology I am using.
In truth, I barely (forgive the pun) understand the technology in my laptop and smartphone, the latter purchased only a few months ago when I upgraded from a flip phone. It’s a Samsung Galaxy phone with a big screen, as close to a tablet as you will get with a smartphone. And I only learned this week that I could transfer music I had ripped(?) onto my personal laptop over to my smartphone.
So, there I was at work with a couple of hours to kill before my shift started. I had my laptop and my smartphone with me, so I figured I would try to transfer some of aforementioned music. I did a bit of research — i.e. how to transfer music — and read that it was simply a matter of connecting the two, opening the smartphone window that would appear on my computer, and dragging the laptop’s music files into the smartphone’s music folder. So, I opened the music folder on my computer and was all set to do the transfer.
Well, not exactly. A window popped up saying that in order to “synchronize” the two devices, it would have to go online to get the right time. Huh? Synchronize? WTF? But I pressed “OK,” anyway. My smartphone was in wi-fi mode, something else I only learned about this week, and only the second time I had ever used it with that device.
Next thing I knew, files were being transferred automatically. The devices seem to have a mind of their own and I had no control.
While it was doing its thing, I asked a younger colleague (i.e. 20something) what might be going on with my smartphone. He explained that it was probably preprogrammed to do the transfer itself once it had been hooked up.
OK. So, clearly, the instructions I had read earlier were outdated.
The transfer took a while — say, 10 minutes, which seemed kinda long for 10 music albums. Once it had finished, I made a startling discovery: not only had my music files been transferred, but so had all of my photos taken over the last six years or so along with all the example photos that had come with the laptop.
Hey, I didn’t request that. I didn’t want that to happen. Why wasn’t I given the option of declining the photo transfer? I deleted all of them from my smartphone immediately, and thought little more of it that day.
The next day, my day off, a nagging thought: what if those photos got onto the Internet somehow during the transfer? After all, the “synchronization” process involved going online to get the time. Hmm . . .
There were no sexually compromising images or anything. But there were nude images of myself — I am a nude model and a naturist, after all — as well as examples of posing positions from nude models among the photo files.
Then I got to thinking about hackers who are able to get into our smartphones and our laptops, and about the actress who inadvertently posted a topless photo of herself on Twitter . . . and I started worrying about just how safe our images and other files really are in online devices — which seemingly have a mind of their own, or some hacker’s mind, sometimes.
Finally, I realized that I am just not technologically savvy enough to completely trust my Internet devices, or to trust myself with them. It’s too easy to screw up and make a mistake. I never did any banking online, anyway, and only minimal credit card purchases with a low-limit card.
So, to make this long story a wee bit shorter, I purged all of my modelling photos — naked and clothed images — from my laptop, along with many others.
Of course, I would still like to have some nude images of myself, to look back on when my body is old and withered. Maybe I’ll do what Mae West did: take one image and have it blown up into a poster, then hang it in my home . . .