Is Your Phone An Archive Of Past Sexts?


When I was a senior in college, I worked at a small think tank. It was an ideal job: I was intellectually stimulated, worked on issues I cared deeply about, and had brilliant and cool supervisors I genuinely got along with. Needless to say, I was thrilled when I got a fellowship to attend a UN conference with them during my winter break. I was flown out from the tundra of my university town to a tropical location for a week to meet with diplomats, attend high-level presentations and panel discussions, and go to international networking events—all with a beach in the background and, in the evenings, a margarita in hand.

I was in a long distance relationship at the time; my boyfriend was finishing his masters degree thousands of miles over an ocean away. Like many couples in our situation, we exchanged NSFW photos to get through the periods of separation, and the timer function on my camera was getting a lot of action.

On the first day of the conference, I asked my favorite boss to take a photo of me at the entrance of the major event pavilion. I handed her my camera, told her how to turn it on, and posed. When she looked at the screen to take the picture, her eyes bulged, she blurted out, "I don't think I'm supposed to see this!" turning her face away and holding the camera as far from her body as possible like it was about to explode. I walked over to see what had happened and immediately felt my heartbeat skyrocket and started to sweat profusely. The camera had been on review mode, and the most recent photo taken featured yours truly splayed in an uncompromising position.

Somehow I managed to turn the camera on the correct setting, hand it back to her and re-pose for the picture without following my panic instinct to shriek and run away. I spent the remainder of the day at the conference hiding from the rest of my group and figuring out how I could possibly fix this before our evening event. I sat in front of my computer for hours drafting, revising, deleting, and re-writing the following:

"So sorry about the camera incident—it is an understatement to say that I am mortified."

After I hit "Send," I read and re-read the email, frantically Gchatting my boyfriend about what had happened and refreshing my email inbox every few seconds via the crappy hotel internet.

My heart sank when when I got her reply:

"I had already forgotten about it :) Not to worry. Glad it was me and not someone else. You can mark it down as another thing you learned—don't mix personal and professional!"

Later in the conference, a prominent attendee propositioned us for a threesome and a drunk colleague started a "Wonderwall" singalong on a public bus, so my faux pas ended up being just one of many. While I can't say what impact the camera incident had on our relationship, we have never acknowledged it again, years later, and remain close—I still consider her a role model and the best boss ever. I also always make sure to delete intimate images ASAP...and I can't be the only one this has happened to, right?


Photo by Tom Newton.

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  • Jenni

    Haha I love this! I remember one of my friends once telling me that she was sexting her long distance boyfriend and accidentally sent one picture to the woman that she did babysitting for! She was the next contact down in her contacts so an easy mistake to make but she was never called to babysit for them again...oops!


  • Denisse

    I'm glad everything ended well for Anon, but I think that's why I wouldn't send those kinds of pictures. Mostly because even if you manage to keep people from seeing them on your phone, you never know what the other person is doing on the other side. Especially if the relationship ends.

  • LisaLDN

    I would've had a stomach ache for days over this! Glad it worked out so smoothly :)

  • Miss Y.

    Wouldn't send spicy pictures anyway, you never know where your relationship will be in the next # years or if your phone gets stolen, account gets hacked or whether you're just plain clumsy. People should know better by now.

    • Luna

      That kind of sounds like, don't go late at night or wear revealing things because you never know who's going to do what at a party, we should know better by now.

      • allhailandhallelujah

        Luna, you are killing it in these comments. Not trying to pile on the OP, everyone has a right to an opinion, but the responsibility and shame should fall on those leaking the photos, not those who took them. THEY should know better, and they do.

        • Miss Y.

          I wasn't trying to shift the blame, just pointing out that I've heard and witnessed the story of people ending up in sticky situations because they feel that desperate need to share their most private parts via the internet. Whatever people want to do is their business, just don't expect me to feel sorry if something goes wrong afterwards --> (and that does NOT include the sad situation where accounts get hacked with the specific intention to steal people's private information, to me that's a criminal offence)

  • Jennifer

    Ahahaha I love this! The thing is most people do this (I'm in a long-distance relationship, too) but all people pretend nobody take this kind of photos. I heard so many bad comments about what happened to J.Law (just to mention a name). Most of the people I know (maybe I do know stupid people, I don't know) were shocked by the fact the she took the photo and I was shocked but what they were saying. It's your phone and you can do everything you want with it. Anyway I do delete those images ASAP because once I left it in a café and I was scared to death someone found it before me!

  • sassiel

    I just so happened to have sent similarly elicit images (and videos!) to my boyfriend (err,'s complicated) FOR THE 1ST TIME days before this celeb nudie pic controversy. It's certainly got me thinking. I deleted the images (and videos!) from my phone immediately, but they're still in our text conversation and I'm wondering if I should worry there too. Call me naive, but what I'm not worried about is him using them against me in the future or sharing them. He's not that kind of man. He wouldn't do that. I trust him. So sue me.

  • Eliza

    Ahhh the new and interesting nude selfie issue! I read a lot of comments re: the celeb nude photo leak saying that it's the same as sexual harassment (and that saying, "Don't take the pictures" is the same as victim-blaming/slut-shaming), which is interesting to me because I never thought of it that way. I kind of agree, though--women should not be shamed into feeling that they can't take certain types of photos, while the people leaking the photos are somehow absolved of all blame. The person leaking photos is the creep, not the person taking them. I get that in the cyber-age it's maybe not the "smartest," because they'll be around forever, but I still think the responsibility falls on the person who has the photos to be a decent human being and oh, maybe don't show anyone?

  • Bike Pretty

    In twenty years, no one will care. This is definitely progress.

  • Clever Girl Reviews

    I've never had anything like this happen although I did take some sexier snaps for my husband that he showed off to his military friends. At first I was very upset but since there was nothing ultimately compromising and no one was seeing any more than they would if I was in a bikini, I let it go. I'm always very careful about what I put on my phone. I'm not paranoid but you never know what could be stolen or used against you. I feel bad for all those celebs that got hacked recently. I know some of them were not even phone snaps but pictures they just backed up using the cloud. I guess fame comes with a heavy price at times.

  • Haiku Jew

    Spicy private pics
    that you wouldn't want mom to see
    shouldn't be shared online.

  • Layla Corcoran

    An ex used to send me pictures of himself with his shirt yanked up showing his chest as he wanted me to reciprocate. I would send him pictures of my green hat instead. He hated that hat SO much.

  • ktc

    I tend to delete stuff from my iPad after I take it. Polaroids, however, are forever, and I recently had a little bit of an awkward experience with a male friend looking through a stack of my photos at home. I dealt with it by shrugging tit (meant to write "it," but decided to keep the Freudian slip) off as "art" when he commented. Inside, though, I definitely died a little.

  • Luna

    I can't agree with this. Yes, famous people compromise their privacy, but they don't deserve it, not to this level. It doesn't mean they don't get to be human. Also remember that all the nude leaks were of women, not men. It is a violation to download their pictures and spread it. To think that they deserve it because they were famous sounds like victim blaming.

  • Natalie

    My phone is like a bomb. So many of these incidents just waiting to happen.

  • Fancypants

    I recently had an employee take my phone to switch my background to a funny photo of him that he knew was stored in my phone. Normally, I wouldn't care, but I later was looking through how many pictures he had to scroll through to get to his pic and I realized that he would have seen a few pictures of myself from when I was recently bra shopping. I couldn't decide and I wanted my BF to be the tie breaker! I prefer to think the employee was more embarrassed than I was- he's very gentlemanly and is probably scared to touch anyone's phone again.

  • Alyssa

    Oh my goodness! I feel like every girl has an extreme embarrassing moment like this. Thanks for sharing yours though, Anon! :) xx

  • zuk__m

    snapchat. problem solved

  • Dailypolish

    I would never take any photos of myself, I am always happy to receive...but I don't trust anyone else to house photos of me that could get me in trouble