Maybe I am being too prudish. In fact, maybe I’m just a modern day Jane Austen, resurrected like a feminist, literary, female Dalai Lama. But I find the recent fashionable activity of Facebook-wanking (or Social Net-Wanking as it’s known amongst the community) really very creepy. Every time my brain erases the admittances of friends who do this, another friend pops up, also testifying to indulging in this activity. Now I may also be terribly behind the times, but I think the fact that this appears to only be a recent phenomenon suggests that there is something unnatural about this activity: it wasn’t as if on the day you discovered Facebook you thought, “fantastic, a pornography site I don’t have to pay for!” Maybe this is just yet another side effect of the economic crisis, but Aquinas is probably rolling around in his grave right now.
Maybes aside, if a male friend turned to you and said, “that’s a great new profile picture you’ve got, I spanked a big one out to that last night,” you’d probably say something along the lines of “stop it!”, only to go and wash your face several times in the closest toilet. In case you haven’t quite got the gist of what I’m actually talking about yet: there is no twist. It literally is just a guy masturbating to a picture of you on Sunday night in Fez, or those family holiday pictures you took, where you’re drinking cocktails standing next to your dad.
If you’re really looking for a good time you might save a photo to your desktop so you can use the scroll ball to zoom in and out in order to recreate the actual feeling of their head moving back and forth during copulation. Those that are really into it might actually print images off and make a perverted little Facebook scrapbook Barry George would be proud of.
Perhaps the main bulk of the creepiness comes from the fact that almost no Facebook photos are taken in a sexual context. Those that are generally get reported pretty quickly unless you’re part of those secret sex cults that seem to be everywhere these days. By masturbating over a friend enjoying a coffee in The Copper Kettle, you sexualize the nonsexual, which is spiritually equivalent to other nasties like paedophilia and bestiality. If a girl found out that you’d been using “Barbados ’09” as a masturbation aid for at least three weeks now, you would definitely be spoiling those holiday memories forever. That nice dinner they had on the beach? Wasn’t that a nice photo? Well now every time she looks at it it’s no better than an incestuous gang bang on a tropical island. Well done, really.
However, from a logical point of view, I find it difficult to justify the apparent inherent wrongness of this new, popular past time. If you consider the two activities that exist either side of it on the creepy scale, the lines of acceptable and unacceptable seem to bugger off and vanish somewhere in the ether. On the less creepy side sits masturbation over a friend using imagination alone. I have to admit that I am unable to do this due to a very good imagination. I will end up imagining every minute detail, the background story, as well as the morning after. I thus avoid imaginary copulation with acquaintances, because next time I meet them I’ll probably end up asking them something along the lines of “So, do you want to come and stay the night again?” But normal people do this, and it’s generally socially acceptable as long as you keep it private.
On the more creepy side of the spectrum is bashing one out while spying through a little hole as they shower, or get changed, or do a little poo. In every case, there are three constants. They’re unaware. They’re unharmed. You’re wanking.
You could argue that spying on them is a lot worse because you’re violating their privacy. Perhaps this is correct, because according to Facebook privacy rights, once an image is uploaded by a user it exists in the public domain, and can thus be used by any individual without legal ramifications. (There is no small-print for the word “used” either). But the more difficult boundary to draw is between using your imagination and using a Facebook picture. Maybe it’s the fact that she is staring directly into your eyes, quietly begging to be given some respect and put away. Or maybe it’s the fact that there are onlookers, such as Mum or Dad, or a peculiar sweaty man in the background, whom you have to cover up with little cut out bits of post-it note for the duration of the session because they’re off-putting. Potentially it could also be due to the fact that using a Facebook friend’s picture as a masturbation aid basically renders them a slut. The fact is, I’ve still yet to put my finger on what exactly this wrongness is. But when I do, I’ll let you know.
That said, girls (or guys), if you want to masturbate over my Facebook pictures I’d be honoured, so go ahead.