This is a familiar story with an interesting twist.
It comes from a friend who works in a school system. Where isn’t important, because if I say where, you’ll take solace in the fact that it wasn’t in your community but in a community far from you. But there’s no such thing as distance anymore. Social media has brought us all close.
So, in a community somewhere, or anywhere, young teen girls were sending nude pictures of themselves to young teen boys. The boys collected these pictures and traded them with one another like boys once traded baseball cards. There was a value assigned to the pictures, and it had nothing to do with RBIs, fielding or pitching statistics. If Girl A had sent out two pictures of herself, those pictures had more trading value than pictures of Girl B who had flooded the market by sending out 10 pictures of herself.
It’s the principle of supply and demand, but that is usually covered in economics, not sexting.
Parents of one of the boys discovered the inappropriate pictures on their son’s phone and were appalled. It turned out to be a vast social network that webbed kids from a variety of schools, churches, teams and programs.
Word spread quickly. Parents, most now aware there are apps that can hide pictures, checked phones. Some parents choked on their dinner. Mothers cried. Fathers were sickened.
And then it happened, the great defense of the ages went up throughout the community. Teens who sent pictures and teens who received pictures wailed in unison: “Everybody’s doing it!”
It’s one of the most widely invoked justifications of all time.
“Everybody’s doing it,” muttered the employee as he stole from his employer.
“Everybody’s doing it,” purred the woman pursuing a married man.
“Everybody’s doing it,” hissed the drug supplier offering a free sample.
“Everybody’s doing it,” bellowed the rioter hurling rocks through business windows.
“Everybody’s doing it,” chuckled the teen forwarding a picture to his friend.
“Everybody’s doing it,” sneered a girl attempting to shame a reluctant peer.
When window panes in the community stopped shaking, the rooftops stopped levitating and the dust settled, the parents who had made the initial discovery asked to see the phone of their other son.
He brought his phone. They checked it. No inappropriate pictures of female classmates.
“Why are none of these pictures on your phone?” they asked.
His brother spoke up and said, “He has a reputation. Kids sending pictures didn’t send any to him. They knew he wouldn’t want to participate.”
One went against the grain. One stood firm. One chose to go the opposite direction of the crowd.
The next time you hear “Everybody’s doing it,” call it out for what it is.
A bold-faced lie.
Not everybody is doing it.
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.