Think of the scariest thing you’ve ever experienced. Now worry about it every day, for the rest of your life.
My greatest fear was brought to life four months ago in the university library, when my old roommate’s cousin messaged me on Facebook asking if I was the girl in “Amateur College Girls Share Good Dick.” He provided the link. When I opened the message, my heart stopped beating and I immediately felt every cell in my body become tense.
One night in college, my roommate, my guy friend and I got high on Xanax and decided to make an account on a site for internet web-camming. It was a stereotypical college story; three drugged out teenagers target their sexual energy towards an awkward pseudo-threesome for the sake of an anonymous, online audience and a couple hundred bucks to split. We were so unaware of how serious our actions were, completely ignoring the warnings of all our middle school assembles and parents’ concerns.
After seeing that message, I immediately packed up my things from the library and made a beeline back to our house. My mind was swimming. I wondered why anybody would go through the effort of recording and uploading all 45 minutes of the awkward and slobbery behavior exhibited on our broadcast. I was so embarrassed and scared. I wondered who else had seen the video. My classmates? My family? My mind was racing over so many different questions and emotions; mostly pure astonishment at my own stupidity. How could I go through with something so blatantly inappropriate? How could I believe there would be no consequences?
Barreling through the door, I grabbed my roommate and thrust the Facebook message in her face, lost for words. Her face slowly mirrored my own concern, losing color and contorting into a look between disgust and terror. She helped me craft a cryptic response to my acquaintance along the lines of “wow, who knew I had a twin in the porn industry?!” and then clicked the link to see what we were dealing with. We sat at the kitchen table and opened our laptops, spending the following three hours trying to wrap our heads around, and ultimately tackle, this problem we created.
Here’s the thing about porn: its vast availability makes it seem harmless, but that ubiquity is what makes it so dangerous. Those 45 minutes we spent streaming our naked bodies to an invisible audience seemed so innocuous at the time, but reached the laptop screens of over 6,500 people. Of those, at least 3 viewers (that we know of) downloaded our content, and uploaded that “original” content to 6 different porn sites. Those 6 uploads were downloaded a minimum of 18 times, and at least 7 new uploads resurfaced. Between all the uploads and downloads, our perceived 6,500 person audience grew exponentially. Our video on porn sites showed up to 50,000 views and hosted a plethora of comments making claims about who we were or what we were like.
Addressing the problem was a whole new kind of impossible task. First of all, we had to watch the video, which may have been the worst part.
And though we were all just friends at the time, our male counterpart had evolved from my friend to boyfriend to ex-boyfriend over the course of the past year, and I now had to watch him get a remarkably thorough blowjob from my roommate. After confirming what did (and thankfully didn’t) make it onto the uploaded reproduction of our broadcast, we then set out on finding every upload of ours that existed on the internet.
After asking a trusted friend, we were able to use his skills and resources to find the links of the original uploads and contact those websites to have the videos removed. Most porn sites are relatively responsive because copyright violation is criminal, plus they’re often worried about publishing child pornography (note: though we are all of legal drinking age, we look like 12-year-olds). The popular websites like PornHub obliged our request to take down the videos well within 24 hours, but other sites weren’t so cooperative. The process took over a month to address all the available videos, but that doesn’t even include the photos. People everywhere took screen-shots of our video at particularly hot (read: disgusting) moments and posted them to various websites, including Tumblr and personal blogs. A simple search of our broadcast account and pages of images come up; even explicit gifs were published.
Copies of our videos and photos still exist and still come up every so often. We do our best to check the basic searches once a month and address any new discoveries, but we’ll never be able to make the video disappear.
Every time I get a message on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter from somebody I don’t know, my heart drops a little. I am constantly terrified of seeing yet another link and finding yet another connection between that video and my identity. Every time I prepare for an interview, I plan how I’d address the situation if I’m recognized from my brief internet presence. I know its unlikely that anyone I know will see the video, but its completely possible.
I have nightmares about my mom watching me spread my legs on camera, or my dad seeing me give a pathetically, over-sexualized blowjob. I fear meeting my little sister’s friends and hearing them say “wait, uh, I think I’ve seen you before on some porn blogs.” I worry about my brother stumbling across the video when he searches for “amateur college girls” to watch when he’s horny.
Behind closed doors, what we did was nothing out of the ordinary. A couple college kids messing around is understood, even accepted, until a camera gets involved. This little mistake is going to affect me for the rest of my life, and all that’s left to do is run damage control. For now, I wake up every day and focus on the dreams and goals that I’ve set for myself, none of them including the rogue concern for sex tape infamy that always hovers over the back of my mind. In between the scary scenarios and mental breakdowns, I have a life to lead.