Why People Sext (According To Dilbert)

Every generation does something unusually kinky that horrifies the older, more uptight generation that has spent considerable energy hiding from their kids that they once wore bell-bottoms and danced to disco music. I don’t deny my generation did some kinky things, many of which still play out in music videos, but I try to keep things in context.

For that very reason, a context for “sexting,” also known as the sending of dick pics and tit shots, still baffles me to some degree. Maybe it’s a sign I’m getting older. I’m in my 30s now. I can’t claim to be young, dumb, and inexperienced anymore. Being on this planet for 30 years gives me too much experience to have excuses.

Regardless of whether or not I’m becoming and old fart, sexting is a thing. According to a 2012 study in “Computers and Human Behavior,” over half of a sample size of young college-age students had engaged in sexting in some forms. Over half of any population means it’s not a fringe behavior. This is happening and it’s becoming common to a degree that’s dangerously close to what bell-bottoms were in the 70s.

So why do people do it? Why is exchanging sexy pictures a thing? Granted, there have been some legal issues involving sexting, but most of those cases involve individuals who are underage. Some involve exploitation and coercion. That’s an actual crime, right up there with forcing someone to wear bunny pajamas to a Rob Zombie concert.

This isn’t like smoking crack. As far as the law is concerned, it is legal to willingly exchange naked pictures of yourself. Just make damn sure the participants have been on this planet long enough to exceed the arbitrary threshold of adulthood that society imposes.

So why do we do it? What’s the appeal? To me, a guy in his 30s with an internet connection and a love of writing erotica/romance, it just doesn’t make sense to me. The internet has an almost infinite number of boobs and dicks on it. It’s really not necessary to persuade someone else to send you pictures of their bodies. A simple Google search is really all you need.

I liken it to being at a fancy restaurant and ordering a steak. However, instead of bringing you a stake, the waiter brings you a picture of a steak. It still looks good. It still looks appetizing. It’s still a fucking picture though. It’s not going to fill the same need.

I personally have never sent someone a picture of my penis. Instead, I just show them how long my ring finger is, which is a more subtle way of letting someone know you have a generous endowment. If I find a lover who is into sexting, I’ll probably feel different. For now though, I’m still confused.

Thankfully, others have thought about this so I don’t have to. Scott Adams, the creator of the famed comic strip, Dilbert, has a knack for making sense of absurdities that have little to no rational explanation. His wry sense of humor has inspired me a great deal in recent years. It has also helped me shape the course of this blog.

The writings of Scott Adams, as well as his hilarious Dilbert cartoons, have helped inspire the phenomenon of “caveman logic” that I’m so fond of citing. Most recently, I read his book, “How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big.” It was the most fun I’ve had reading a book that didn’t involve graphic depictions of female anatomy.

As such, when Scott Adams has something to say about sexting, I tend to listen. Last week, he did an article called, “D*ck Pics Explained.” Naturally, it got my interest and not just because it made me think about my own penis. Here’s the main crux of his interpretation:

Our sex drive is so strong that it largely eliminates the option for rational behavior. And as you know, the hornier you get, the stupider you are. Once a guy reaches a critical level of horniness, his rational brain shuts off and he becomes primal. And when he’s primal, he sometimes signals his availability for mating in the most basic way possible: He displays his junk in full preparedness.

If you think the men doing this behavior are extra-dumb, or extra-rude, that might be true. But it is just as likely that such men are extra-horny. That gets you to the same decision no matter your IQ because the rational brain is shut down during maximum arousal.

It is also true – as far as I can tell from discussions with women over the years – that sometimes a dick pic actually results in dating and sex. I realize how hard that is to believe. But sometimes (maybe one time in 500) it actually works. You would think those odds would be enough to discourage even a man with a temporarily suspended intellect, but that view ignores the basic nature of men: We’re risk takers when it comes to reproduction.

Okay, now I can understand it to some extent. I understand why sexting is still a thing. I’m a fairly healthy man and I can say without reservation or shame that I’ve been at that critical level of horniess before. It has led me to do or contemplate things that makes my brain want to kick my ass. It’s never gotten me into too much trouble, but it has led to some awkward situations that I prefer not to describe.

This interpretation is part of what Scott Adams calls the “Moist Robot Hypothesis.” It’s basically the idea that human brains are like robots, but they’re moist and fungible. Granted, they can’t be programmed as easily as a non-moist robot, but it can be hacked to some degree. In fact, the internet is full of brain hacks to exploit, which says a lot about the sub-par programming of our brains.

Flawed or not, the hypothesis is similar to caveman logic. It emphasizes the fact that we humans have two biological imperatives: survival and reproduction. Rational thought and a clear understanding of reality don’t always jive with those imperatives. That’s why critically horny men and women are prone to doing stupid things.

I’m not nearly as smart or as successful as Scott Adams, but I am working on that success. As such, I hope he’ll forgive me if I tack something onto his assessment. I agree in large part with his explanation for sexting. However, I would add another layer to it and it’s an extension of both caveman logic and the Moist Robot Hypothesis.

Due to our biological imperatives, which are at the forefront of our brain’s programming, there’s also a powerful need to adapt. Adaptation is a basic part of evolution for all creatures, be they human or pond scum. Think of it this way:

  • Does wearing tie-dye T-shirts and listening to Bob Dylan increase your chances of having sex? Then chances are, you’ll adapt accordingly.
  • Does wearing bell-bottoms and listening to disco music increase your chances of having sex? Then chances are, you’ll adapt accordingly.
  • Does sending naked pictures of yourself to a lover increase your chances of having sex? Then chances are, you’ll adapt accordingly.

See a pattern here? Notice how I didn’t mention the degree to which your chances of having sex will increase. It can be exceedingly small, but so long as it’s more than zero, that’s enough reason to adapt your behavior and conduct accordingly.

There’s another factor in play that inspires adaptation. That involves distance and technology. Thanks to the growth and prevalence of instant communication, long-distance relationships are a bit more viable.

I know this from personal experience because I met one of my ex-girlfriends online and a lot of our relationship was long-distance. Were it not for Skype and email, we never would’ve found each other and she never would’ve taken me on a memorable trip to Victoria’s Secret.

In this context, sexting can be seen as an adaptation of sorts and one that’s become more necessary to some extent. According to the Journal of Applied Communications Research, between a quarter and half of all relationships among college students are long distance. Naturally, college students are still going to get horny, regardless of distance. Their caveman brains/moist robot brains will require them to adapt.

This capacity for adaptation shows just how creative we humans can be when it comes to fulfilling our biological imperatives. In evolutionary terms, we’re no different from our caveman ancestors. We’re still wired to eat, hump, and survive. We just change our tactics in accord to our circumstances and adapt accordingly.

At the moment, some are adapting to new technology and distant connections by sending naked pictures of themselves. It’s not necessarily a logical adaptation, but since when does logic apply when you’re horny?

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8 responses to “Why People Sext (According To Dilbert)

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