One Direction is an extremely popular band with tremendous influence on their fans: one of their songs “Live While We’re Young” has received over 86 million views on YouTube, but that’s only half the number of views as “One Thing“, and a third of the views of “What Makes You Beautiful“. As with most of their videos, Live While We’re Young is full of fun-loving bright colours, smiles, and teens just hanging out, having a good time enjoying each other’s company. Yep. Just a bunch of teens thinking about how they’re looking forward to ‘getting some’:

Let’s go crazy, crazy, crazy till we see the sun
I know we only met but let’s pretend it’s love
And never, never, never stop for anyone
Tonight let’s get some
And live while we’re young
Oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh
And live while we’re young
Woahhh oh oh oh
Tonight let’s get some

Because there may never be another opportunity to take pictures of each other on your phone:

Hey girl, it’s now or never, it’s now or never Don’t over-think, just let it go And if we get together, yeah, get together Don’t let the pictures leave your phone, ohhhh

Not only is the song replete with the kind of living-for-the-moment lets-get-me-some [action] hedonism, which defines life in their song, there’s an assumption that photos of said action will be taken. This is not a maybe. The only maybe comes from trying to convince the girl to not think about it too much.

‘Sexting’ – sending explicit images or text messages by mobile phone – is practised to varying degrees by teens. Here’s an extract from a handy infographic produced by Pew Internet Research on teen cellphone use:Another study, reported on Huffington Post, puts the percentage of teenagers who have ‘sexted’, as high as 20 per cent. The Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics associates ‘sexting’ with sexual risk while another says that such behaviour is not yet normative; to say nothing of the destruction wrought by the unwanted distribution of explicit images through mobiles or on the internet.

One Direction does not explicitly endorse the practice of ‘sexting’ in the song, but they at least lay the foundations for it: Firstly, by implying that raunchy images are an assumed part the experience; and secondly, the overall light-hearted good-time nature of the song seems to (unintentionally) trivialize the risks, given the stakes. (I’ll leave it to them to prove me wrong by writing a cautionary song discouraging their target audience from the practice.)

In contrast, keeping one’s bits to oneself all but eliminates the risks that teens may not yet be ready to handle: the risk of pregnancy, the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, the risk of images of your anatomy being broadcast on the internet; issues for which society and individuals must pay and endure long political debates over, when a little self-control would go most of the way to prevention.

One Direction suggests that taking photos of sexual experiences is expected; the risk of such photos getting out is but one of many they are prepared to take for their own self-fulfilment. But hey, that’s living!

At least they’re honest in saying they would only be pretending to be in love.

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