IT HAPPENED TO ME: I Wound Up On A Porn Site, And My Friend's Reaction Was the Most Traumatic Part

I’m not Ms. Porn Manners. I don’t know WHAT the appropriate social protocol is when you find a porn-y picture of your friend on the Internet.
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Publish date:
October 15, 2014
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Tags:
porn, the internet, revenge porn

I met my first college boyfriend at my first real keg party. He played rugby and drank beer out of cans. We broke up by the end of fall term by mutual silent agreement: He stopped calling and I started dating a bearded bass player.

Twelve years later, we wound up as all amicable exes do -- coolly regarding each other’s lives on Facebook. He got married, I got engaged once or twice (or three times; what’s it to you, huh?), we moved to the same city but didn’t make an effort to hang out. We didn’t interact much online, aside from the occasional Change.org petition or cute dog picture like. If he had thoughts about me -- lustful or otherwise -- I never knew what they were.

Then one day, I received a message from him, informing me that he’d found a photo of me on a porn web site. Given that my 17-year-old self’s taste in sexual partners tended toward the illiterate, his message was surprisingly respectful and articulate:

You’d think I’d be shocked and embarrassed, but after thoroughly investigating the nature of the photo and determining that it couldn’t have been him that posted it, I was a little flattered: More than a decade later and this dude could still recognize my butt (and manage to be polite about it). Fantastic!

Further, he gave me a direct link so I could take any action I wanted -- including checking to see if it really was me (it was), asking the site owner to take the picture down (I did), and chortling at the “especially gross” comments.

However, other, more seemingly innocuous people in my life did not handle the porn discovery so smoothly. An old school friend’s husband sent a series of cryptic, vaguely flirtations messages filled with thinly veiled hypotheticals:

Now I’m not Ms. Porn Manners. I don’t know WHAT the appropriate social protocol is when you find a porn-y picture of your friend on the Internet. I could, however, think of a zillion cooler things to do other than what this guy did.

You could, for example, say nothing, and instead just smile smugly whenever you hang out with your secretly porny friend. Hey, having secrets is kinda fun! Or, you could just be a grown-up, and say something straightforward. Or take the slightly lower road and make a joke about it.

This guy, though, took a different path. He continued to badger me with baiting questions and winky faces. At first, I just ignored him. It bugged me, though. It began to bug me even more than the fact that my image had been posted on a porn site without my permission.

It’s one thing when you imagine sad strangers wanking to your booty (it’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it), it’s another one entirely when you imagine your friend’s husband doing it -- and then relentlessly messaging you about it.

Eventually, I broke down and blocked him. I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of getting a rise out of me (despite the fact that I’d seemingly gotten one out of him). Mostly I’m over it -- the photo itself, and all the weirdness surrounding it, was, for whatever reason, more lighthearted amusement than traumatic violation to me.

But my “friend’s” reaction -- creepy, crawly, oogy -- still squicks me out. It was his reaction -- not that of the gross commenters, not that of the few friends I did share this story with -- that traumatized me the most.

Somehow, he took what I thought was a pretty innocent and frankly funny happenstance, and made it what I suppose it was meant to be all along: A violation.